July 28, 2014

The Wahoo debate has changed, but where do the Indians stand?

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There’s something vastly different about the Chief Wahoo debate this year. The protests have been going on at Opening Day for years, but the movement spawned a new arm since last season. There’s a new @DeChiefWahoo Twitter account that doesn’t have a ton of followers, but don’t be mistaken: This debate has moved beyond those activists directly impacted and into the fan base. Last week, I spoke with Brian Spaeth about the film he was making at the, but he never even had a chance to get any footage out before a photo from the scene by Peter Pattakos of Cleveland Frowns went viral. This site and others have talked about the Cleveland Indians and Chief Wahoo plenty already, so I’ll skip covering that same ground again. There’s one overriding feeling that I can’t help but focus on: The Cleveland Indians — most notable the Dolan family — is failing to lead on this issue.

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YELLING TRIBE, BROWNS AND TWITTER WITH @sportsyelling – WFNY Podcast – 2014-02-28

WFNY Podcast LogoI was very happy to welcome in @sportsyelling for the first time on the WFNY Podcast. She (yes, she) is a Tribe first sports fan, so we talked a lot about the Indians. We talked about Ubaldo Jimenez, the rotation, Chief Wahoo, and Ervin Santana. We also touched on the Browns and how the NFL has dominated the sports world to the point there’s really no “off-season.”

Check out this episode!

Plain Dealer editorial board joins anti-Wahoo chorus

wahooIt’s not going away. I’m speaking of the conversation about Chief Wahoo. We’ve talked about it here. It’s been talked about many other places as well. It’s not going to go away until the Chief goes away for good. Love it or hate it, that seems to be the inevitable truth. Now the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editorial board has joined the chorus in their editorial.

But Americans have a long history of giving up on once-acceptable traditions when they come to realize the consequences — as unintended as they may be — of keeping them going.

The bottom line is that having Wahoo on the roster won’t provide the team with a right-handed power hitter, a shutdown closer or a third baseman who can hit. Wahoo contributes nothing to the performance of the Indians on the field, and makes the team seem hopelessly backward in the eyes of the world.

It’s not unlike a lot of things that have been discussed ad nauseum right here on WFNY. It seems that there will never be wholesale agreement on the topic, but my current position is one of pragmatism even more than anything else. We know enough about the cultural shifts in the country over time to unequivocally know that the Chief won’t last forever. Oddly enough, as much as Chief Wahoo offends or even de-humanizes people, it serves as a catalyst for Cleveland and its fans to stand in the line of fire.

My plea is for it to end, if for no other reason, than to stop the shots being fired at Cleveland from judgmental, scornful outsiders. Bending to outside pressure isn’t a lot of fun, but we know how this thing is going to end. Might as well hit the fast forward button. I’d like to just talk about baseball again. There’s only one way to do that.

Andrew at WFNY discussed the topic most recently in October. Make sure you read his post.

It’s time to say goodbye to Chief Wahoo

Mark Shapiro and Jimmy Haslam react to Michael Sam’s announcement

In the wake of Michael Sam’s announcement to the world that he is gay, the issue of gay individuals in sports has taken over the discussion landscape, even larger than it was when Jason Collins came out on the tail end of his NBA career back in May. As a result of the sheer size of the story, it’s found its way to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Indians President Mark Shapiro for comment, both of whom say that they would have no issue employing a player who was openly gay.

“Sexual orientation has not and never would be an area of consideration,” said Mark Shapiro. “And it certainly would not prevent us from acquiring a player we felt could help the team be in a better position to win a championship.”

And of course, in the NFL where teams are directly impacted by Sam’s decision to come out before the draft, owners have been going on record. Said Haslam, “Absolutely we would welcome Michael Sam to the Cleveland Browns organization if he can help us win games and he’s the right football player for this team. We are intent on creating an environment that is supportive, accepting and respectful of individual rights and differences.”

One consistency between both Haslam and Shapiro is first and foremost establishing if a player can contribute on the field. In the end, that’s supposed to be the only characteristic that should bias a professional sports franchise when it comes to player acquisition. Can they play at a level to help us achieve our goals? As these archaic barriers continue to fall, we move closer and closer to that truly being the only thing that matters.

Talking Browns, Cavs, Chief Wahoo, and poetry with CBthePoet – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-26

WFNY Podcast LogoI don’t go to the “friend” card on the podcast very often but when you have a friend who works in the business of the spoken word, it seems like a good place to go. My friend Chris grew up in Cleveland and relocated to Charlotte about 15 years ago. He keeps up with all the CLE sports just like the rest of us and sometimes uses them in his art, namely his poetry. CB has a poem he recently did about his revelations about Chief Wahoo and we talked about that… you know after we got the Browns and Anthony Bennett talk out of the way.

You can follow Chris on Twitter and you can check out the movie he referenced about slam poetry. Asphalt Revolution.

Check out this episode

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...]

MLB News: Indians manager Terry Francona named A.L. Manager of the Year

It was a good first year for Terry Francona in Cleveland. Francona guided the Tribe to the playoffs and now he’s been recognized for his success. Francona was named American League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

CLEVELAND, OH – The Baseball Writers Association of America today announced Cleveland Indians Manager TERRY FRANCONA has been selected the American League Manager of the Year, beating out Boston’s John Farrell and Oakland’s Bob Melvin.

In his first season managing Cleveland, Francona led the Indians to a 92-70 (.568) record and a berth in the American League Wild Card game as the Indians became the first Major League team since 1971 to end the season with a 10-game winning streak. The 24-win improvement over 2012 (68-94) matched the largest year-to-year win improvement in the history of the franchise, joining the 1986 Indians. 2013 marked the sixth time Francona has led a club to the postseason and the ninth straight season in which a Francona-managed team has won at least 86 games, the sixth-longest such streak in MLB history.

Today’s award is the first earned by Francona over his 13-year Major League Managerial career and marks just the second time an Indians Manager has been selected, joining ERIC WEDGE in 2007. The BBWAA began voting on the Manager of the Year Award in 1983.

I always wondered if Eric Wedge’s award was more of a snake bite for the team that wouldn’t be able to fire the Mustachioed grinder. I have no such reservations with Terry Francona. This is a great way to cap off the season and kick off the hot stove period. It can’t hurt the Tribe’s chances at following up their breakout first season with Terry Francona at the helm.

[Related: MLB News: Jimenez rejects offer, Indians likely to receive compensatory pick]

Survey Says? Digging deeper into the Cleveland Indians fan survey

Indians SurveyLost in the kerfuffle of the Cleveland Indians allegedly polling season ticket holders about their opinion on Chief Wahoo was the fact that said inquiry was literally one of roughly three dozen questions pertaining fans and how they relate to various aspects of the team. Drowned out by all of the noise and nostalgia surrounding the polarizing mascot was the fact that the team was conducting an exit interview of sorts, gauging fan thoughts on items like concessions, ticket prices, and most importantly, the roster of players who wear Cleveland on the fronts of their uniforms.

We have long discussed how attached fans are to the current roster. Gone are the days of having the same group of guys fill the Indians lineup card season after season; Kenny Lofton isn’t walking through that door, as much as he would probably like to. And while the stark reality of another 455 straight sell-outs continues to loom as an impossibility, the team wants to know how much they—despite still rocking their faded navy blue t-shirts with “BAERGA” on the back—assimilate with guys like Swisher and Kipnis and Bourn and Brantley. They want to know how important it is for the owner to be more out in the open, discussing the team’s direction and their plans for the future. They want to know, in addition to price adjustments at the concession counter and box office, what it would take to get that season-ticket base back up—how can they get you to invest in this team’s future?

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All of the Indians tweets after the AL Wild Card loss

Sometimes, sports are tough. A perfect example would be Wednesday’s gut-wrenching 4-0 loss by the Cleveland Indians at home in a one-game do-or-die playoff game. As we wind down the team’s incredible run to a 92-70 record, I felt it was appropriate to recap some of the team’s best tweets over the past few days since that loss. Hope you enjoy and that this makes you even more pumped for 2014.

The Tribe’s pitching coach got it all started shortly after the game ended with this quick post. [Read more...]

Early thoughts on the 2014 Indians: WFNY Roundtable

Following Wednesday’s AL Wild Card loss to Tampa Bay, the WFNY staff was still giddy about the Cleveland Indians’ 2013 season. But, some were already not as optimistic about the picture for 2014. Here’s another look inside the WFNY email thread to see what we were talking about yesterday with regards to the Tribe’s future.

WFNY_roundtable

Jacob: From 1995-2012, 58 MLB teams had .600+ records in 1-run games. Of those 58 teams, 44 regressed the following season: 75.9% of teams. In total, those 58 teams regressed by an average of 5.8 wins/162 games the following season.

Sure, that’s probably just regular regression to the mean for good teams anyway, but still notable. I don’t think winning 1-run games is a skill however, unless you have Mariano Rivera. The Indians went 30-17 (.638) in one-run games this season, second in baseball to the Yankees: 30-16 (.652). Both could be prime candidates for 2014 regression. [Read more...]

Despite the loss, this was a game Cleveland needed

Tribe Pano Smaller

Last night’s Wild Card playoff was a game this city desperately needed. No, one game is most assuredly not “enough.” No, I’m not satisfied that the Indians peed down their leg with runners on base last night.1 All the same, last night was a game that this city needed and it was a game that the team needed. As I said yesterday, this city has been doing a lot of bickering and in-fighting over the years since LeBron James left town and took all of Cleveland’s playoff hopes with him. What was left was a lot of self-loathing, bitterness and negativity.2 It’s been wearing on this city’s fans and filtering to the players too. With those things in mind, I’m elated with the fact that Cleveland got at least one playoff game so the city could explode positively for a night.

It was absolutely electric, except that’s something everyone says. It was more than electric. The pride, excitement, and nearly palpable effort by Clevelanders last night to will their team to victory was everything we all remember as kids growing up with the 90′s Tribe. It was another taste for those of us in this age bracket, but it was even more important for so many people who hadn’t seen it before or were too young to remember. But that’s just the fans. It was also imperative for Cleveland Indians players to see it. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. I’ll leave the real recap work to the experts. []
  2. Some justified and some probably a bit over-the-top. []

Meeting Paul Dolan, rooting for the Tribe, and balancing criticism

WFNY Goon Squad Dolan

In case you missed it, we had a chance encounter with Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan yesterday. Given that it’s not every day that I meet a billionaire who happens to own the team which I root for on a nightly basis, I’ve been thinking about it a lot since it happened.

I’d be lying if I didn’t feel a bit strange when we were taking our photo with Paul outside of Progressive Field. I’ve been pretty critical of him and his ownership of the Cleveland Indians. Even as recently as this season, I feel as if I’ve crushed a great portion of the Indians organization. I don’t think I was wrong about many or most of my criticisms, but it still felt a little bit strange to take my picture with the man who had been a subject of many of my critical words for years.

After thinking about it for a while, I’m feeling a lot better, because I know I have always wanted the Indians to do well. I never wanted them to fail so that I could look smarter for being so very critical. And now that they’ve had such a great September and gotten themselves in the hunt, this is when we’re all supposed to get along, right? Isn’t this how these things are supposed to work? [Read more...]

WE DID IT!

Nick SwisherFor weeks, when implosion after implosion happened……When the bats couldn’t be colder if they were naked in Alaska….When the bullpen went into their slide….when Corey Kluber got hurt….when Detroit treated them like their personal pinata….when Justin Masterson got hurt….I tried to tell you all, wait until September. Just wait. Big things will happen. Nick Swisher, one of the veteran leaders of this now 92-win bunch, told the media this weekend that his team shouldn’t have to apologize for anything. And he was right.

“As a direct quote to everybody else, no one was complaining about the schedule when we lost 94 games last year,” said Swisher. “That’s enough of that schedule stuff for real. No one was talking about the scheduling when we were playing the Yankees, Boston and Detroit. If everybody feels that way, make it an even schedule. Let everybody play everybody the same amount of times so no one can complain about it.” [Read more...]

Scott Raab discusses the Tribe, Browns, the end of Chief Wahoo and Sigur Ros – WFNY Podcast – 2013-09-16

WFNY Podcast LogoI’m a bit tired from being out at a concert last night, so I don’t have much to say other than it was a good conversation and the notes below tell the story of what we discussed today.

Sigur Ros show at Nautica
LeBron’s wedding on Yom Kippur
The Cleveland Indians and their ability to grab the casual fans
Michael Bourn and the attendance question
The beginning part of the Bourn quote
The Indians pitching staff with Kluber, Salazar and Ubaldo Jimenez
Carlos Carrasco and his ability to be in the bullpen
The Indians never sign one of their own guys so they don’t have the leverage
Grady Sizemore and his star power
The Indians sold that they were the smartest in the room and people bought it
Looking at the attendance from series to series and game to game
The front office should initiate the conversation about year over year attendance
Would the Indians sellout a home playoff game?
Who asked the Michael Bourn question?
The Cleveland Browns and the lack of entertainment
The Cleveland Browns and how they don’t have an NFL quarterback
The pass to Chris Ogbonnaya and the sideline reaction to him missing it
The Browns coaching staff and what’s happening with the Browns offense
What’s the deal with Trent Richardson?
Just how boring it is to watch the Browns
The penalties and the delays of games and illegal formations, etc.
The element of despair for long-time Cleveland sports fans
Chief Wahoo and the Cleveland Indians name
Being on the wrong side of history with your team name
Cleveland fans as crabs in a bucket
Barkevious Mingo looking good [Read more...]

Scott Raab on the Browns prospects, Indians playoff run and the end of Tebow – WFNY Podcast – 2013-09-02

WFNY Podcast LogoAs I’ve been doing the last few weeks, I’m passing on writing notes as the podcast goes along so that I can be “in the moment.” So, here’s the email I sent to Scott on Sunday night that sparked the rest of the podcast.

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Tebow is cut. Nobody makes a waiver claim. Is the NFL finally free of Tim Tebow? More importantly, we know Bill Belichick is great, but can we stop pretending like he can turn dog poop into gold? He has a track record of finding good players and finding ways to use them to their maximum. He’s never been known for taking non-players and doing anything with them other than cutting them… which is what he did to Tebow yesterday.

Good news! Buster Skrine rose up and won the second cornerback job opposite Joe Haden. Maybe these guys know what they’re doing, but they’ve really left their chins open on this one if Buster get burned early and often this season.

Same with kicker. I got a Facebook message from a friend who went into his fantasy draft and took Shayne Graham because USA Today had him rated as the fifth best fantasy option at kicker. Apparently not so much for the Browns who still don’t have a kicker after having a punter kick field goals in the fourth pre-season game. [Read more...]

Scott Raab on Andy Samberg, The Freedom Tower, “cart-offs,” the Browns and Tribe – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-19

WFNY Podcast LogoThis week, I’m going to save you the bullet points. Instead I’m going to share my pre-show email to Scott Raab (@ScottRaab64) with my ideas to discuss on the show. Doing this enabled me to stay in the podcast a bit more without typing notes as I went along. So here (with very few edits) is what I sent to Scott the night before we were ready to talk.

I enjoyed the Q&A with Andy Samberg. I just wanted to talk a little bit about how big he would have been in a different era with all his different talents around comedy. Just like we can’t have another Beatles because of the change in the music business, it’s increasingly difficult – even with the same TV show as a launching pad – for there to be another Bill Murray or even Sandler or Will Ferrell.

I enjoyed your Freedom Tower piece too. I wanted to discuss how anything 9/11-related is such a difficult “sell.” World Trade Center movies haven’t done particularly well. Kathryn Bigelow wins awards, but largely doesn’t blow anyone away with box office receipts. And here you are telling an important story about the political dynamics of what should be the most important part of the re-development at the WTC site, and I still get the feeling that nobody wants to talk about it. What is it? Is it a defense mechanism? Fatigue? Something else? Do the blustery politicians from your piece prefer it that way? [Read more...]

TD talking Tribe, Browns and turkey sandwiches – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-14

WFNY Podcast LogoI couldn’t get a proper cold cuts conversation out of Brian Spaeth, so I saw an opening with TD and I grabbed it! Also, make sure you let us know what you think of the two songs I put together as potential replacements for our opening sounder.

  • The Indians collapse
  • Craig tries out two new songs as potential openers for the podcast
  • Is it good enough to just contend late in the season?
  • Do the Indians have any more free agency options in the bank?
  • Dropping the payroll to the bottom of the league in payroll
  • Asdrubal Cabrera probably won’t be in Cleveland next year
  • Where does the growth come from in Terry Francona’s second year?
  • Has Prince Fielder been a problem of a contract?
  • Asdrubal Cabrera as cleanup hitter is a joke
  • Mark Reynolds had one of the strangest seasons I’ve ever seen in my life
  • Lonnie Chisenhall and what he can become or not
  • Nick Swisher and how nobody kills him
  • Chris Perez’ time in Cleveland is just over [Read more...]

Scott Raab discusses Bernie Kosar, Peter King, Johnny Manziel and the Tribe – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-12

WFNY Podcast LogoScott Raab (@ScottRaab64) and Craig Lyndall (@WFNYCraig) talk about all the Cleveland sports topics from Bernie Kosar to the floundering Cleveland Indians. Here’s what else we talked about.

  • Marketing 101 with Brian Spaeth (@brianspaeth)
  • Bernie Kosar’s comments about Kellen Clemens and the Pope
  • When you take local comments national the context changes
  • NFL AM hypocritically mocks Mark Sanchez after slapping Bernie Kosar’s wrists
  • Wolf Blitzer vs. Walter Cronkite
  • Casa D’Barons memories from Scott Raab
  • Peter King and Jeff Fisher sharing the same agent
  • Nate Jackson’s book and how they worked with the same editor
  • Bernie’s demons and how fair game they are
  • Should Joe Banner have apologized for Bernie?
  • Sports has turned into a reality TV show
  • Johnny “Football” Manziel and Scott’s thoughts on that
  • The hatred for people with money from Manziel to Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton [Read more...]

What can the Tigers teach us about the Indians attendance numbers?

I know, right? Another attendance article about the Cleveland Indians!

I can’t help it. This is what I’m thinking about right now, and I have no choice but to write about the things I’m thinking about. Hopefully this won’t continue a trend of simplistic posts that are focused on singular details. Rather, I wanted to try to continue to build off the excellent work that Jacob did last week talking about the significant “honeymoon” effect of new stadiums. I also wanted to try and point out the fact that attendance can be micro-analyzed from game-to-game and series-to-series, but ultimately in a system that thrives off of season ticket holders and sales of multi-game packages, a true audience appears to be built more year-over-year. And when you really look at the high-level view, it’s easy to see how attendance is driven by looking at annual attendance numbers that don’t get lost in the details.

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Les Levine on Indians attendance, Browns stadium changes and more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-07-30

WFNY Podcast LogoIt’s always a love-fest when I get Les Levine on the podcast. I won’t even apologize for it. We discussed the Indians attendance, the perception of the Dolan family and the latest Browns announcements that came out yesterday.

  • When was the last time Les was nervous for a shift on radio?
  • Les’ history in the radio business after Ohio State
  • Jasper Indiana near French Lick Indiana
  • Les’ career playing with the Jasper Red semi-pro baseball club
  • Cleveland Indians attendance discussion
  • The hatred of the Dolans and whether it’s fair or not
  • Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti and whether or not they get a fair shake from fans anymore
  • Matt LaPorta was a really desirable commodity
  • The Cleveland Indians need to make the playoffs
  • It’s all about playoff appearances
  • Browns tailgating culture and how the Browns are going to attack that
  • Happy hour in order to get fans in earlier
  • The really “off-the-rails” fans
  • The new Browns executives and how they’re not from Cleveland at all
  • The drum corps but not the cheerleaders [Read more...]