Monday, July 31, 2006

There was a time when I tried to see the best in Mel Gibson. The man appears so modest in some interviews, and so likable in some films, I didn't want to believe he was anti-semetic.
I did not see that famous film of his last year, though I had heard it was somewhat questionable.
But Gibson's tirade when pulled over last week appears to make what a lot of people suspected -- that Gibson was a Jew-hating nutcase-- the truth.
I have, on occasion, been in the presence of friends who have had a few too many. The language gets more crude, the humor gets less controlled. But I have never been around someone who has developed an entirely new political philosophy while drunk.
Most of my friends hit the "I love you" stage, or the "that girl ruined my life stage." Usually, these are feelings these people have, but have kept under wraps.
So what happens to Gibson now? Well, I don't care. But any positive image I have of the man, and any lingering doubts about his insanity, have all but evaporated.
We conservatives often joke about insane Hollywood, whether it be radical "liberalism," the strangeness of some films, and so on.
But Gibson appears to have reached some other kind of crazy, the kind that should make any right-thinking theater-goer spend their money elsewhere.
Christopher Hitchens has never exactly been a fan of Gibson, and he lays in.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Got NFL Network?
Since I'm on vacation, I'll address an issue that has been on my mind for almost three years, but have generally avoided here because I like to stay impartial on some matters.
I have Time Warner Cable, and despite my immense satisfaction with it, one thing bothers me: Time Warner still does not carry the NFL Network. It didn't bother me too much, because I had never seen the network. But last summer, things changed.
My parents had another cable company, and they got the network. I started watching it, and got hooked.
They carry all the exhibition games, a thrill for an NFL-crazed sports writer. I missed the NFL Network when at home now, as opposed to just wishing I had it.
But now I won't get to see it at all. Time Warner is taking over my parents cable, and the result is no NFL Network. My father and I have logged our complaints, but as of now, the Network will be cut tomorrow.
Please, TW, keep the Network. And while you're at it, add it to the rest of the packages in the country.

Cleveland Indians offering high value players at low, low prices
A memo sent by the Cleveland Indians to other Major League Baseball clubs has just been leaked:
Disappointed with the players you have? Check out Jacobs Field, located in the heart of downtown Cleveland.
This is a once-every-two-years occurance. Good, affordable players are available for barely anything more than a promise of beanstock beans.
Need a good second baseman? Ronnie Belliard, an All-Star just two years ago is on the block. Outfielders? Todd Hollandsworth (seven homers off the bench) can be had. Pitchers? What kind do you need? Jake Westbrook and Guillermo Mota can be yours! Everything MUST GO! Except for outfielder Casey Blake, that is.
Call Mark Shapiro, or call 1-800-FIRESALE.
Here are some testimonials of satisfied customers:
Cincinnati Reds' general manager Wayne Krivsky: "We were predicted to be in last place by almost everyone, until Indians GM Mark Shapiro called. We got star second baseman Brandon Phillips for a Single-A pitcher. Suddenly everyone's calling me a genius. And all because Phillips couldn't get along with Indians' manager Eric Wedge. Thank you, Indians!"
Braves General Manager John Schuerholz: "People have asked me, 'how did you pry an all-star reliever like Bob Wickman in this pitching-starved market?' Ha. I just told them to call 1-800-FIRESALE. They'll get rid of anyone who may cost them money. I got Wickman for a Single-A catcher. I'm good, but not that good. Before I hung up on Shapiro, I told him I'd be putting his number on speed-dial. Whatever they're doing over there, I hope they don't stop."
But remember, this sale can't go on forever. Don't allow the waiver-wire to get in the way of one-sided deals. Call 1-800-FIRESALE now. The deadline is coming at 4 p.m. tomorrow. Deals like this can't last forever. Just ask Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi.
"I got two .300 hitters (Eduardo Perez and Ben Broussard) for AAA ballplayers," Bavasi said. "I almost feel guilty. Ha, not really."
Call 1-800-FIRESALE today. Indians scouts are standing by.
Also can be read at

Belliard Traded
Ronnie Belliard came to Cleveland over two years ago, and at the time, I scoffed at the signing.
But Belliard surprised everyone by putting up very solid offensive numbers. He made the all-star team in 2004, hitting 12 homers and driving in 70 runs. He was even better in 2005, smacking 17 homers and driving in 78 runs.
It was his competence that, at first, made the trade of Brandon Phillips understandable. But the Indians fell way out of contention this year, and Belliard's contract was up. So the Indians dealt him to St. Louis.
Belliard is not a great fielder, but he's not horrible at second either.
In return. the Indians get Hector Luna, who's 26, has the ability to play almost anywhere, and, more importantly, makes about $3.5 million less than Belliard. He doesn't appear to have much power, but then again, is used as a 10th man.
So we traded a former all-star for a utility man. Great. That quicksand in the middle of the infield will not be cleared up any time soon.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Gatlin says he failed drug test
What a great week it's been for anti-drug movement in sports

Wickman: Another trade?
The Braves acquired Danys Baez from Los Angeles yesterday, and the team responded by dropping their last two games.
It got me to thinking. The Braves are now six games under .500, and fading out of the wild card race. If Atlanta drops a few more games (against the Mets, that's likely), might it consider packaging some veterans for youth?
Bob Wickman, acquired from the Indians, might be tradable to the same teams that called the Indians. And Wickman is no longer a 10-5 player.
Could the Braves deal Wickman, and perhaps, more interestingly, could Atlanta get more for him than the Indians did?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The top 10 ways Wednesday could have been worse for Browns fans
While all of us who bleed brown and orange are hanging our heads over center LeCharles Bentley's season-ending injury, things could have been worse.
1. Butch Davis could still be the coach. He would have described LeCharles' injury as a "minor setback" and added that LeCharles success (with other teams) was the result of the system he imposed for LeCharles this season.

2. Dick Vermeil could be the Browns coach. Imagine the rivers that would have been cried during the press conference.

3. Carmen Policy could still be in charge. Called away from his wine garden, he would have put a positive spin on things by saying Bentley was "the nicest guy the doctor ever met."

4. A quick question: Did Reuben Droughns fumble on the practice play? No.

5. Bentley could have been a Steeler. Then he would have been healed and on the field by Friday. Maybe that's not worse.

6. Bentley could have taken the play off, like some linemen in the team's past. Yes, he got injured. But at least he's showing effort. And he was putting some good swings on the ball. Oh wait, Indians manager Eric Wedge-mode off.

7. At least Bentley didn't make us all excited before getting hurt. Jamir Miller gave us a quarter of excitement in the 2002 preseason before blowing out his ACL. At least Bentley made it quick.

8. Bentley could have called a press conference and admitted his injury came because he quit on his team. Then Romeo Crennel could reward him for his honesty. Man, this Indians-mode has me all screwed up.

9. David Modell could have owned the Browns, then ... David Modell could have owned the Browns. What is worse than that?

10. I stole this one from Matt Sussman: Be thankful the Cleveland LePlayer who got LeInjured was LeCharles Bentley.

Oh, and apoligies to Erik for using some of his format. I figured I'd give it a shot.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Obscure Indians Reference Team
When I was in college, my friend Ryan and I had a game where we would attempt to name the most obscure Indians players of our youth. Rich Yett always clinched a win for me.
With the Indians scuffling, almost in a retro way, I figured I'd make an All-Obscure Reference team.
Ground rules:
I was born 26 years ago, and started following the Indians about 20 years ago. Mostly, the game is limited from 1986-1993, while the Indians were still doormats. While the occasional Rene Gonzales and Terry Clark (who faced Randy Johnson in 1997 in perhaps the most lobsided pitching matchup ever) would make the list, the idea was to remember the not-so-memorable Tribesman who sat on the bench in the cavernous Cleveland Stadium. Also, thank goodness for . The names come from memory, but the stats from the web.
Let's go:

C- Tom Lampkin (1988) - Played four games for the Indians in 1988, and went 0-4 at the plate. Was shipped to San Diego for Alex Cole in 1990.

1B- Luis Medina (1988-'89, '91) - Never played more than 30 games in a season for the Tribe, but somehow managed to hit six homers in 51 at-bats in 1988, getting fans excited. He finished his career with 10 homers.

2B- Tommy Hinzo (1987, 1989) - In 1987 the Indians lost over 100 games. The biggest benefactor may have been Hinzo, who somehow got 257 at-bats that season. You know what else? He wasn't that bad, managing a .265 average and three homers. He drove in 21 runs, but made nine errors. Somehow, GM Hank Peters figured he wasn't in the future plans, dealing him to Atlanta in 1990 for the infamous Jeff Wetherby and Miquel Sabino. I'd have Wetherby on my team, but honestly had no idea of his existence until I looked it up.

SS- Paul Zuvella (1988-'89) It really is shocking to me, looking this up, that Paul only played parts of two seasons with Cleveland. The way I remembered it, Paul was always playing with the Indians --in September, when the Indians finally accepted the season was over. Unlike most players, Zuvella appeared to thrive in Cleveland. He managed just two homers in his eight-year, four-team career. Both came in 1989, with the Indians. The Indians were so impressed by the power surge they released him in April of 1990.

3B- Tom Brookens (1990) This is not an easy choice, and not because there are so many choices. The Indians have been remarkably strong at third base, with Brook Jacoby (two-time all-star) giving way to Jim Thome, giving way to Matt Williams and so on. Brookens was a veteran the Indians signed away from the Yankees in 1990. I guess Peters decided the Indians didn't have enough mediocre talent to roam the bench that season. Jacoby spent most of the year at first base, and Carlos Baerga was not quite ready. The result was Brookens, who had been servicable to the Tigers, getting playing time. Brookens hit .266 and smacked one homer in 1990. He retired after the season, and the result was the beginning of strength at the hot corner for the Indians.

LF- Carmen Castillo (1982-1988) Carmen Castillo was more of a name from my youth. I imagined he had spent, at most, three years with the club. Imagine my surprise when I found out he spent seven years with the big league club, and over a decade in the Indians organization. Still, Castillo struggled to find time in the Indians outfield. He never played more than 89 games in a season, despite reaching double figures in homers three times. But he rarely drove in runs, and the Indians dealt him to Minnesota for Keith Atherton. No, I didn't remember him either. As for Castillo, he made over $2 million in his career, and attained a ring by playing with the 1991 Twins. Or maybe he didn't. He played 13 games that season.

CF-Dion James (1989-1990) I'm not entirely sure what James did well. I just remember he came from Atlanta for Oddibe McDowell. Oh, and while with the Braves, he hit a fly ball to left that struck (and I believe killed) a bird just unlucky enough to be cruising over Shea Stadium. James was so excited he clasped his hands as he reached second. He enjoyed far less notoriety in an Indians uniform, hitting just four homers with the team. The Indians released him after 1990.

RF- Brad Komminsk (1989) Brad has the distinction of being one of my brother's favorite players. I would make fun of my brother, but considering my favorite players included Cory Snyder and Beau Aldred, I really have no reason to joke around. Komminsk is known for not a game or a season, but rather for a play. It was in Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, and Cal Ripken hit a ball deep to center. Komminsk went back to the wall and jumped, snagging the ball, and falling over the wall in the process. It was ruled a homer, because I believe the ball came loose. Regardless, Brad hit eight homers in 71 games. Komminsk, a Lima OH native, was managing in Akron (the Indians AA team) in 2003. Here's an interesting twist: Komminsk was traded from Atlanta to the Brewers in 1987. Who'd Atlanta get? Dion James.

Starting Pitcher
Cecilio Guante (1990) Guante pitched for eight years, as a reliever for Pittsburgh, the Yankees and Texas. When he arrived in Cleveland, the Indians decided it was time to give Cecilio Guante a new role -- they started him. Here's what I remember: Herb Score, the Indians broadcaster, said he approached Guante and asked him how he felt about starting. Guante didn't know what he was talking about. Score told him he was starting, and Guante said "you're kidding." Guante's start was a bomb, and he was released soon after. The Indians couldn't even put pitchers in the right positions.

Relief Pitcher
Rich Yett (1986-1989) What can you say about Rich "Not ready for prime time" Yett? Not much, actually. The name says it all. He came to the Indians in a 1985 deal with the Twins that brought Bert Blyleven to a better team. As for Yett, he was just a guy the Indians got to go with Jay Bell and two others. I know what you're thinking: "Wow, Jay Bell! Great trade!" Well, it would have been had the Indians not unloaded Bell three years later for Felix Fermin, who had as much power as Tom Brookens. Of course, perhaps we should be thanking Yett--the deal eventually, indirectly, led the Indians to Omar Vizquel. That is, sadly, Yett's best contribution to the team. His earned run average was constantly over five, and my late. wonderful grandmother always groaned when the blond, moustached Yett made the trip from the bullpen. Usually with good reason.

Other Obscurities
Barely Mentioned goes to:
Beau Aldred (1989-1991) OF
Oddibe McDowell (1989) OF
Jerry Browne (1989-1992) 2B-OF
Junior Noboa (1987) SS
Ron Washington (1988) SS (Ron's probably wondering where that one write-in All-Star vote in 1988 came from. Look no further, Ronnie.)

Rod Nichols (1988-1992)
Jon Perlman (1988)
Dave Otto (1991-1992)
Scott Bailes (1986-1989)
Scott Scudder (1992-1993)
Jack Armstrong (1992)
Denis Boucher (1991-1992)
Mike Bielecki (1993)
Mauro Gozzo (1990-1991)
Jeremy Hernandez (1993)

Shuffling My Ipod II
Five songs at random. Here we go:
Harvest-- Neil Young
The title track from one of the best rock albums ever, Neil Young hits a laid back tone with this song and it works. It's certainly a mood song, as much of Young's work is. The thing that stikes me when I listen to Young is how strong his vocals are. No one does, and perhaps no one can, sound like Neil Young. I bought this album when living in very rural Ohio, and the result is I always think of that period when this song comes on.

'Til I Can't Take it Anymore-- Charlie Rich
If you don't like Behind Closed Doors, there is something wrong with you. The title track is a classic, but the album is amazingly strong, showing one of country's most talented singers of the 70's at his peak. The song is short, and is a sweet, sad love song, but Rich's voice is so suited for the material that you're left wishing the song had another two minutes in it.

The Philosopher's Stone- Van Morrison
Perhaps the best song Van has written in the last 10 years, Philosopher's Stone tells the story of a man at the crossroads, a man looking for meaning. Van Morrison has in some ways always been searching for meaning (at least his music seems reflect such things). The song mixes organ, piano and harmonica quite nicely, and Van's vocal is outstanding. The album (Back on Top) is as well. The song is beautiful, but I usually play it while in a reflective mode. This is not a song to work out to, and I probably wouldn't play it at a party, but it is one of my favorite Van songs ever.

Words (Between the Lines of Age)- Neil Young
From the Harvest album, the song has a harder edge than most of the collection. It is more intense, and just as strong as the acoustic songs on the record. The electric guitar backing parts are very good. It's the last track on Harvest, and it brings a driving conclusion that seems quite fitting. Young continues to sing as well as ever. It's over six minutes, which is a tad long on an Ipod. Hearing the two songs on this shuffle makes me wish I owned more Neil Young.

The Unfaithful Servant- The Band
It's the vocal of the late Rick Danko that makes this song, along with the brass put in by Garth Hudson. Danko's voice seems to almost ache in pain as he sings the lyric, which makes it perhaps my favorite Band song. Truth be told, I sometimes have trouble distinguishing between Danko's vocals and Richard Manuel's. They both have very good voices, but sometimes I'm not sure which is which. Robbie Robertson's acoustic guitar solo is somber and almost chilling here. Interesting fact: Danko recorded the lead vocal on the first take. Amazing.

What's on My Ipod--July
From my generally unchanging top 25 list:
1. Hickory Wind-The Byrds
2. Caravan-Van Morrison
3.Caravan-Van Morrison (With The Band)
4. Wheels- Flying Burrito Brothers
5. Tura Lura Lural - Van Morrison (With The Band)
6. Return of the Grievous Angel- Gram Parsons
7.The Unfaithful Servant-The Band
8. You Ain't Going Nowhere- The Byrds
9. Troubadours- Van Morrison
10. Pretty Boy Floyd- The Byrds
11. We'll Sweep Out the Ashes- Gram Parsons
12. We Can Talk- The Band
13. The Weight - The Band
14. Son of a Son of a Sailor- Jimmy Buffett
15. In a Station- The Band
16. Changes in Lattitudes -Jimmy Buffett
17. Helpless- CSNY
18. Dark End of the Street- Flying Burrito Brothers
19. Long Black Veil- The Band
20. Kiss the Children- Gram Parsons
21. In My Hour of Darkness- Gram Parsons
22. Such a Night- Dr. John (with The Band)
23. Christine's Tune-Flying Burrito Brothers
24. Image of Me-Flying Burrito Brothers
25. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down- The Band

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Wickman's Braves' debut
Bob Wickman came into the ninth this evening with the Braves leading the Phillies 5-1. Wickman retired the Phillies in order, like he did oh so many times with the Indians. Perhaps there's a trace of sarcasm in that remark.
By beating Philadelphia tonight, the Braves moved within five games of Wild Card leading Cincinnati.
Here's the difference between the National and American League right now: The Braves are five games under .500, but are buyers at the deadline. It's true they are five games out, but Atlanta is tied with three other teams at five games out. There are seven teams tied or better than Atlanta in the race.
This is beginning to remind me of the AFC in the 90s. I was in high school before I saw an AFC team win a Super Bowl (I started watching the game in 1986, when the Bears clobbered the Patriots). The NFC had the 49ers, Redskins, Cowboys and Giants, who won two Super Bowls each during the following years.
The American League has the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox and Tigers. The only team close in the National League to that level is the Mets.

Buck O'Neil should be a Hall of Famer
Baseball seems to love a great story.
When Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s cosecutive-games record in 1995, it was touted as a wonderful moment, one that would bring the fans back after the 1994 strike.
In 1998, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were celebrated as titans, power-hitting supermen who saved baseball with their clout. Of course, time has made baseball’s salvation seem as plastic as a Cher body part.
In truth, I was brought back a month after the strike.
Ken Burns’ PBS film Baseball got a great deal of hype, but I was still bitter about the greed of the players and owners, so I avoided it. My father watched the first part of it. Then he called me up from the basement.
“If you really are a baseball fan, you have to watch this,” he said.
So I watched. And it was not actor Billy Crystal, historian Doris Kearns-Goodwin, or writer Robert Creamer (all interviewees) who brought me back to loving baseball.
It was former Negro League star Buck O’Neil.
O’Neil’s joyous stories about Satchel Paige, and his thoughts about how baseball will always come back, were moving. He had plenty to be bitter about (dealing with racism in the game), but if he was, he hid it well. If this man can still love baseball, I thought, so can I.
The grandson of a slave was interviewed as much as the others, but he stole the show.
O’Neil is now known as a goodwill ambassador for the sport, but in fact, he is much more than that.
According to the 2006 ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia, O’Neil was “a slick fielding first baseman who hit for high averages.”
But he’s not a Hall of Famer, although he should be.
O’Neil was good enough to play from 1938-1955, missing two years while serving in the Navy in the Second World War. He was also the first black scout, signing Ernie Banks and Lou Brock for the Cubs.
Earlier this week, O’Neil became the oldest professional player ever when he took two at-bats in the Northern League All-Star game.
A 94-year-old all-star is a nice thing. A 94-year-old Hall of Famer would be better. It'd be a great story.
This can also be read at

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friends in low places
The Axis of BG-vil is all over the Wickman deal:
-Erik says the Indians are going around in circles. A team's greatest fear is becoming a perpetual rebuilder. The Indians are in a better position than, say, the Pirates, but it's getting scary.

-Joel can't believe the Indians got so little for Wickman. In truth, they had two million reasons to trade him for so little.

-Matt has a really interesting picture on his site of pre-hot dog Wickman, as well as a look at the deal from the Braves' perspective.

I should also point out Joel's new site, which I must say is impressive. And I'm not just saying that because he's one of my best friends. Take a look.

Further Wickman thoughts
The Indians have conceded the season, which is a relief. The team is 10 games under .500, and has no chance of catching Detroit or Chicago.
Getting rid of Bob Wickman makes sense. The closer is doubtless at the end of his career, and leaving him on the roster would have served no purpose.
But my first thought when I saw the Indians aquired A catcher Max Ramirez was "that's it?" For a guy who saved 45 games last season, in a bullpen-starved market?
I know Wickman had 10-5 rights, but getting this little for him is a tad perplexing.
And I'd like it if just once, Indians General Manager would describe a baseball move in baseball terms, instead of using the term "market" every five seconds.
I know the Indians are a small market team. Believe me Mark, the last four seasons have made that reality quite clear. I also know Shapiro is sharp, and his hands are often tied.
But it'd be nice if we could hear about baseball and baseball only in baseball decisions. Continually suggesting otherwise sounds like an excuse.
We all know selecting prospects in a trade is like throwing darts. But receiving a single A player, and only a single A player, for a 2005 All-Star makes the deal seem money-oriented. Trading for prospects is playing darts. Trading for single A players is like playing blindfolded.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wickman traded to the Braves
That's the latest. For a catching prospect.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Indians Outake
Call me a cynic, but I'm getting pretty tired of the Indians announcers talking about how hard the Indians play. It's as if they expect their effort to offset this mess of a season.
Forget about how ridiculous the claim is in light of the physical and mental errors fans have become accustomed to. These guys make six-figure salaries, at a minimum. Is it too much to ask to have them hustle and have their heads in the game?
I appreciated Casey Blake's hustle last season, but it hardly made up for his miniscule average with runners in scoring position. Professional sports is about results. No matter how the Indians try to spin it, this season has been a disaster, with plenty of blame to go around.

Wedge watch
Despite my criticism of Eric Wedge, I don't believe he should be dismissed as Indians manager. The man is niether Casey Stengel or Joe Adcock. We know he's competent, and in the American League, that's all you can ask for. It just seems whenever things go bad in Cleveland sports, people scream for the manager/coach.
But it doesn't make a difference. Players are the ones who have to get it done.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Being a Bush Apologist
In the spring of 2005, I sat in a restaurant in Tiffin Ohio, having lunch with my aunt and her husband. It had been a cordial conversation, as always. The bond between nephew and aunt had long been established over nearly 20 years.
We were both writers, both big baseball fans, and both had (what we believed) were wonderful senses of humor.
Still, despite our similarities, there was one major difference.
My aunt votes one way, I vote another. We have a lot to talk about, a lot to laugh about. But inevitably, it comes up.
So, at about the 45-minute mark, my aunt took a sip of soda, smiled and said, with more than a trace of sarcasm, "you know, it's been a great year for your boy."
"My boy" is President George W. Bush. I make no apologies for this. While most of the country has turned on him, I remain supportive.
In 2005, I again made my case: The Iraq war was the right decision. Saddam had to go, as he could never be trusted. Bush had kept America safe. He wasn't right on social issues at times, but I had become a one-issue voter. In the War on Terror, I felt Bush was right, and that was the main issue.
I still feel that way. It's true Bush misspeaks. Every night at work, I'm treated to Bushisms on the David Letterman show. When the news is on, I constantly hear about Bush's dropping approval ratings, as though a second-term President needs to worry about poll numbers.
My contention is Bush will be vindicated in the future, much like Harry Truman.
In the future, I wonder who will control the President's legacy. Will it be historians who will look at his policies and their results, or will it be the Hollywood-inspired Michael Moore types, who rely on television clips? Media plays a roll in this. Somehow, Jimmy Carter is considered one of the best ex-Presidents in history.
Fine. But he is only called that because his term was such a disaster. And I have a bone to pick with the St. Jimmy Carter philosophy. Just read some Bernard Goldberg to see what I mean.
When my aunt questioned me on my support of the President some months ago, I froze. My aunt is smarter than me, and a better person than I will ever be. We agree to disagree. I hope she never changes.
But when others ask, I answer with my feelings. It's hard now to write about peace in the Middle East with what's going on now.
The current crisis is not Bush's fault, but some will blame him for it. And I'll be defending him to friends, bringing up points they won't listen to. Saddam is gone. The Taliban is out of power in Afghanistan. New societies are being built. It's not perfect. Too many people have died. It will take a long, long time.
But I still believe Bush was right. If he's not, than I'm responsible, because I voted for him twice.
Here's hoping he's right.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Gammons out of hospital
Peter Gammons has been moved from a hospital to a rehab center, which is good news. ESPN isn't the same without him. Here's hoping for a continued recovery.

Volkoff for Congress
It would be easy to joke about this, but I'll hold off for the moment. Nikolai is best known for the pro-Soviet, anti-American character he played in the WWF. He riled up crowds by attempting to sing the Russian National Anthem before his matches.
The character made him money, but it didn't reflect the man. In fact, Volkoff fled the Soviet Union because he hated it there. Now, he's running for congress as a Republican.

Monday, July 10, 2006

LeBron's extension means a title
One can only assume what happened in Cleveland Saturday. Maybe the church bells rang out; maybe the organists played “Alleluia.”
If it did not happen, perhaps it should have. The Cavaliers’ LeBron James agreed to sign a five-year extension with the club. The contract means many things.
First and foremost, it means Cleveland will win a World Championship. I can see my fellow Clevelanders shiver in fear. Yes, I said it. The Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA Championship.
Keep him away from motorcycles. Don’t let him star in a remake of The Dirty Dozen. Make sure he doesn’t get traded for Harvey Kuenn. If LeBron stays healthy, he will deliver the city’s first major title since 1964.
Friday, I was driving back to my home, listening to a national sports talk show. The host was talking about LeBron wanting to go elsewhere. It was as if the national media wanted LeBron somewhere else. It was talked about on ESPN, and just about everywhere else.
Carmelo Anthony agreed to an extension with Denver almost as soon as it was offered; Dwyane Wade did the same with the Heat. LeBron got his offer July 1, and waited. Why the delay?
Maybe Spike Lee offered him a movie deal if he agreed not to sign. Maybe Jay-Z was giving him a tour of Brooklyn and telling him he could build him a recording studio in two years. Maybe Phil Jackson was teaching him meditation. Perhaps the delay was just another twist in Cleveland’s bizarre and unfortunate sports history.
In the end though, LeBron simply allowed the drama to build. He pledged himself to his hometown team for the next five years. Instead of going to a bigger market, LeBron will keep his 31.4 points, seven rebounds and six assists a game in Ohio.
And eventually, he will give the people of Cleveland something new. Or something old. After the last championship (by the Browns) Cleveland fans could have celebrated by taking in an exciting new film: A Hard Day’s Night.
I wasn’t there for that. Generations of Clevelanders have no idea what a championship feels like.
LeBron will fix that.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

LeBron's deal for three years?
That's what sources have told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith. Take it with a few spoonfulls of salt.
The report is "premature and flawed" according to Brian Windhorst of the Beacon. As soon as you see the name "Stephen A. Smith" behind a report, you're best assuming that's the case.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Indian Summer
Isn't it amazing what five weeks can do to a city?
Well, maybe five weeks. Maybe 12 days.
The Cavaliers have offered LeBron James a deal, and he hasn't signed it. Of course, he can't sign it until Wednesday.
Still, LeBron is silent, and the national pundits are pouncing on the story like a 6-year old on a waterbed.
Would I have liked it if LeBron had told everyone he would sign the extension? Yes. But the truth is I don't know what he's thinking and I would prefer not to guess.
All Cleveland sports fans know the feeling. Erik knows it. I know it. The writers at the PD and Beacon know it.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I assume the national writers hate having to come to Cleveland to cover LeBron. Just like Ken Griffey Jr., the writers can't see how an athlete can be happy outside of New York, Boston, Chicago or L.A.
Griffey just wanted to go home to Cincinnati. Junior's fortunes declined, and the media began dumping on him, and writing about how things have gone badly in Cincinnati.
But Griffey was traded before the 2000 season. It's now 2006. Junior is beloved by his teammates, and cheered loudly by the fans. He doesn't have a ring, but watching his interactions with players and fans, he doesn't appear unhappy.
Maybe LeBron will stay in Cleveland, and maybe he'll like it. Maybe he'll bring the fans a title. Maybe he'll go to New York or Chicago. Or New Jersey.
The point is, he has two years to sign the extension. He has two years left in wine and gold.
If he wins the city a title, just one, I don't care where he goes.
All I know is LeBron James will be here next year. On that alone, the Cavaliers are contenders to win the NBA title. None of the other teams in the city can make that claim.
Hey, I'm still thrilled we got the guy in the first place.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Song quote of the day
Our house
is a very,very very fine house
with two cats in the yard
life used to be so hard
now everything is easy cause of you-- CSNY

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Things could be worse
Yes, the Indians blew a seven-run lead in two innings. Yes, the team is a disaster and there is no relief in sight.
But after watching today's White Sox-Cubs game, I now recognize yes -- the Cubs have it worse.

Remembering a few things
Three years ago, when I was finishing up my time at Bowling Green State University, I thought I'd inherited the greatest job in the world.
Here I was, a 23-year old who just two years earlier had been wasting away his college years. But looking at BG's football schedule, all I could think was that someone up there must like me.
A few months earlier, I had gotten the job as the sports editor of the BG News. One of the perks of the job was being able to hire myself for one of the best beats -- football.
I looked at the schedule and saw that the Falcons made trips to Purdue, Ohio State and Miami University.
The trip to Oxford, looking back, was the most rewarding. I met some big names that night-- ESPN's Mike Tirico (great guy, by the way) and hall of famer Anthony Munoz -- and then got to watch a young Ben Roethlisberger play a great game.
I did also get a chance to see Tom Archdeacon, but was too afraid to introduce myself.
Archdeacon, a writer for the Dayton Daily News, had been a writing idol of mine. My aunt, who lives in the Dayton area, occasionally sent stories he had written.
They weren't game-stories, but human-interest ones with a sports touch.
This, I thought, is the type of writer I want to be.
I finally introduced myself to Archdeacon in December of 2003, before the MAC championship game between Miami and Bowling Green. I told him he was a big reason I became a writer and it was always a thrill when my aunt sent his articles.
Archdeacon smiled and talked to me for a few minutes. It was something I'll never forget.
A few weeks later, the final act of my college career was played out, when Bowling Green beat Northwestern in the Motor City Bowl.
I covered the game, and came away impressed with Wildcats' coach Randy Walker. He made no excuses and answered all the questions. He thanked his seniors for their hard work, and spoke well of the team that had just beaten his.
This is a class guy, I thought. Most coaches would have been short with the media or bitter. Walker may have been down, but he didn't show it. He impressed me.
The news of Walker's death is a shock not only to Northwestern, but to the entire sports world.
Walker graduated from and coached Miami University for nine years. He was from Troy originally. Many people have written a great deal about the coach and the man.
Tom Archdeacon's article, as usual, stands out.
Rest in peace, Mr. Walker.