Thursday, August 31, 2006

Red Sox are almost as insufferable as Yankees
There was a time, not too long ago, when I liked the Boston Red Sox.
They were never a favorite team of mine, but I had a certain amount of sympathy for them. Though I never completely understood why Boston fans complained so much (Celtics or Patriots, anyone?), I could appreciate the heartache they had been through.
Bill Buckner was a great player, not a punch line. Roger Clemens will always be remembered as a Red Sox ace.
Boston deserved better. Then came 2004. That season changed everything.
Boston not only ended the fabled “Curse,” but it did so in grand fashion. Down three games to none to baseball’s version of the Prince of Darkness, Boston somehow rallied in the American League Championship Series, and beat the Yankees.
Beating the Cardinals in the World Series was really an afterthought to the rest of the country. I felt good for Boston.
For about 10 seconds.
Then came documentaries interviewing Denis Leary (who I think is great) and Michael Chiklis (who once suggested Grady Little threw the 2003 ALCS to the Yankees).
Then came a romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. Then came endless talk on sports shows about the “Yanks” and the “Sawx.”
Then David Ortiz stopped being known as David Ortiz, instead being called “Big Papi” by every broadcaster. Unless he plans on becoming a pro wrestler, I don’t think he needs that prominent a nickname.
Then Ben Affleck started being shown on TV at games.
I hate the Red Sox. They used to be the long-suffering rivals of the Yankees, the team you pulled for. But after 2004, the team has gone through an almost Animal Farm-like transformation.
For the last two seasons, it has been hard to tell the two teams apart.
Like the Yankees of the last 30 years, the Red Sox have had soap opera. Between general manager Theo Epstein’s job status, Manny Ramirez’s weirdness and Johnny Damon’s ship-jumping, it doesn’t stop.
The Yankees spend more money on players than any other team ($194 million). The Red Sox spend the second-most, at $120 million. The Red Sox total is $17 million more than the third team on the list, the Angels.
You’d think last season, when both the Yankees and Red Sox were dumped in the first round of the playoffs, would give pause to the hype. Instead, it’s worse. Every time the two teams play, it’s as if the rest of the baseball coverage takes a holiday.
Is it fair to blame the Red Sox for this?
Probably not. But their fall from the top of the standings over the past few weeks has left me somewhat less than sympathetic.
What will ESPN talk about if Boston has no chance of playing the Yankees for the American League Championship?
Oh wait, I know the answer. It will talk about how Boston won’t play New York for the AL championship.
Can’t wait.
Also can be read at

Bengals are good, nothing more
It’s hard, at this moment, not to jump on the Carson Palmer bandwagon.
I saw the game Monday night and Palmer not only looked healthy, but he looked like one of the top five quarterbacks in the league.
He’s a great player, and he will be for a long time, barring another injury. While I still find some of his actions hard to stomach (shaking hands and smiling with O.J. Simpson? Was he alive 10 years ago?) I can’t deny his ability on the field.
With the questions about Palmer’s health all but answered, and the fact Cincinnati destroyed Green Bay Monday night, Cincinnati has emerged as one of the picks to win the AFC.
I cannot jump on that bandwagon. Cincinnati may win a high number of regular-season games, but I don’t see them as anything more than a one-and-out team in the playoffs.
Some may see this as sour grapes from a bitter Browns fan. Maybe it is.
But the Bengals have yet to convince anyone they can play solid defense. Yes, Cincinnati won 11 games in 2005. But it gave up at least 27 points six times in the regular season. While the high-octane offense was strong enough to overcome that in many games, it wasn’t enough when the playoffs started.
People in Cincinnati have already started the “what would have happened?” game about Palmer’s injury in the playoff game against Pittsburgh. Some have speculated if Palmer did not go down, the Bengals might have prevailed and perhaps advanced all the way to the Super Bowl. But Pittsburgh proved how good they were in the following weeks. Yes, Cincinnati had a 10-0 lead at one point, but the Steelers had the better defense. Cincinnati’s defense yielded 31 points to the Steelers. I don’t know if Palmer staying in would have meant a Cincinnati win, but it would have been difficult. So, now it’s 2006. Palmer’s great, but what about the defense? Cincinnati’s run defense was the big problem. The Bengals tried to combat that by signing defensive tackle Sam Adams. I was going to make a joke about how they should have signed the 18th century patriot, since he’s probably younger. A check of his profile, however, shows the new Bengal is just 33, so he probably has a few years left. Still, it might not be a stretch to say the Bengals have the worst defense in the AFC North, with the Browns’ improved personnel in the 3-4 defense, and the Ravens’ perennially strong squad.
The offense will probably be enough to outrun those problems. But after that, it’s unclear if the Bengals can become serious contenders.
Also can be read at

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Christopher Hitchens to Bill Maher's idiot audence
"F*** you."--said with a middle finger extended.
Hey, that's mild. I have always been amazed at the type of crowds Maher attracts. Hitchens said this about George W. Bush, when pressed on if he was stupid:
"I've been on the Jon Stewart show; I've been on your show. I've seen you make about five George Bush jokes a night. There's no one I know who can't do it. You know what I think? This is now the joke that stupid people can laugh at."
That's exactly how I've felt. And Hitchens isn't done.
"I was at Oxford with Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton is more intelligent in some ways; better educated than George Bush. But Bill Clinton would change his mind according to the last expert he met, or the last book he read. George Bush knows one thing ... These people mean us harm; they are our enemies. There is no compromise with them ..."
Bill Maher made more tasteless jokes, proving he's not as smart as he thinks.
"Behead and Shoulders," with former Sen. Max Clelend laughing along.
It continues to amaze me how Maher is tough with conservatives (or in this case, Christopher Hitchens), then throws softballs to Markos Moulitsas, asking him "Why are you the biggest blogger?"
Moulitsas says Bush is at 30 percent approval. According to RCP, Bush is closer to 40. Not good by an means, but there is a difference.
Hitchens coughed a word after the interview, but I couldn't hear it.
Maher called Hillary Clinton a "nice person."
I'm also constantly amused that "liberals" talk about the polarazation of the people, like it's Karl Rove's doing. Does Maher read Daily Kos?
I'll say this for Maher: He's one of the few people who gets me to write long political posts. Generally, you have to make me angry to do that.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Patience and Optimism: The Ballad of the Cleveland Browns fan
To be a Cleveland Browns fan, you have to have patience and optimism. Without the two, it’s hopeless. The Browns have been like a bad soap opera lately.
Some people say, correctly, that Cleveland has not been any good since returning to the NFL in 1999. That’s true, but it’s only part of the story.
The truth is the Browns have been bad since way before the move to Baltimore in 1995. Cleveland has had just one 10-win season since 1988.
Since that season, the Browns have won seven games or less in a season 11 times, and have made just three playoff appearances.
Since 1988, the Browns have had seven head coaches, and they didn’t even have a team for three of those seasons.
But the fans keep coming back. The Browns have sold out every home game since 1999.
The Indians won 93 games in 2005 and just drew 2 million fans. The Cavaliers are only drawing because of LeBron James and the promise he brings. It’s true Cleveland went NBA-crazy last May, during the Cavs’ playoff run. But before LeBron, the Cavaliers were an afterthought.
Some say the Cavaliers were a bad team, but they certainly were no worse than the Browns have been.
Yet the Browns keep packing them in.
The fans have kept coming because Cleveland is a football city. I grew up in the Cleveland area, and even though the fans have gone nuts for the Indians and Cavs, the Browns are different. The Browns are like part of your family. A dysfunctional part, but an important part. How much do people care about the Browns? Here’s a few things I’ve seen:
• On a 1992 Sunday I attended church, and the priest finished with the usual “Go in peace to love and serve the lord.” Then he followed with: “I hope the Browns do better.”
• In 1995 I attended a Cavs game. The JumboTron was showing random fans on the screen, and there was little reaction. Then they showed a fan wearing an Andre Rison Browns’ jersey. The place erupted in boos. Rison had been critical of Cleveland fans after the Browns announced their move. Now, the poor kid had to pay the price. It was the loudest the arena got all night.
• In 2002 I served on a jury in a civil case involving the wife of a former Browns’ player. The player had since moved onto another team, and the attorney for the woman wanted to make sure none of us would hold that against her. She was serious.
These events all occurred years after the Browns’ good period in the 1980s. Then, the whole city appeared to be in orange and brown. After many difficult seasons, fans keep coming back, because they’re the Browns.
They keep coming despite not having a team for three years.
They keep coming because Charlie Frye will be as successful as Bernie Kosar or Brian Sipe. They keep coming because Kellen Winslow will stay away from bikes and live up to his promise.
You keep thinking loyalty will be rewarded. You keep thinking Tim Couch, Courtney Brown and Gerard Warren will not be first-round busts. You keep thinking well-spoken con men like Butch Davis actually believe what they’re saying. But most of all, you keep thinking next year has to be better.
Cleveland was 6-10 last year under new coach Romeo Crennel. Browns’ fans know it might be a few years before the team wins big again.
So we wait. And we hope.
What choice do we have? You don’t neglect family.
Also can be read at

Friday, August 25, 2006

Too many Fridays
Today marks the beginning of the high school football season. I never played high school football, for obvious reasons.
I can't say I've ever really understood the passion in which some people follow high school football. But that's probably because neither I nor my brother played.
Now, don't get me wrong. When I was in high school, I attended as many games as I could, and often videotaped the games for my school. I always loved, and still love, the atmosphere.
But sometimes it goes too far.
Having covered high school football for two seasons now, I know of a select group of people who take the games a little too seriously. Winning and losing are important, and sports writers, officials and even other fans sometimes get undeserved wrath.
When I ask about the value of prep athletics in our society, I'm often told it builds character in our youth, that it teaches discipline and sportsmanship.
Usually, I see that attitude from the players. The fans are at times another story.
My message to anyone going out tonight is simple: Enjoy yourself, cheer for your school, and enjoy the moment.
But if a call or a play does not go your way, keep perspective. The officials and players are doing the best they can. If parents and other fans show good taste and sportsmanship, it can only carry on to the field, and beyond.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

They're gonna make a big star out of Me(ars)
Steve Mears always impressed me when I worked with him in BG. He was by far the best hockey announcer in the Bowling Green Radio Sports Organization.
In the state. While still in college.
Now, Steve has hit the big time, becoming the play-by-play voice for the New York Islanders.
I'm sure I speak all of us BGRSO alums when I say we are thrilled for Steve, and congratulate him on his well-deserved success.
And thanks to Panel member Phil Prusa for the info.

In the film Two for the Money, Matthew McConaughey places a bet on a crucial Monday Night game. The participants? Carolina and Cleveland (who I believe are in the little-used alternate red uniforms. God bless copyright). We all know this is as ridiculous as having Ghandi watching a DVD.
The Browns on Monday Night Football? Since the movie appears to take place in 2005 (not 1986), that's just ridiculous.

Hostages alive
It's a reminder to sports writers everywhere that while we are complaining about certain things, there are those out there taking enormous risks to do their jobs. Sometimes it takes tragic events to put that in perspective.
Thoughts and prayers go out to the journalists' families at this difficult time. Hopefully Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig are released soon and get home safely.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Kerry goes after Lieberman
As usual, John Kerry is opening his mouth and making no sense. He called Joe Lieberman "out of step" with Connecticut voters, despite Lieberman owning an 11-point advantage over Ned Lamont in recent polls.
Lieberman, as usual has taken the high road. Remember, he spoke at the Democratic convention in support of Kerry. And this is his reward. Joe shows more restraint than a lot of us would have. But Lieberman realizes Kerry's remarks have little to do with him. Kerry is gearing up for another run at the top.
If the Democrats turn to Kerry again in 2008, they will lose. As strange as some Democratic decisions have been over the years, I don't see them being that stupid. In presidential races, Kerry is a loser. You don't go back to a loser and expect a different result. The only man who did it was Richard Nixon, and he waited eight years after losing a national election. Actually, I'm still not entirely sure how he pulled it off.
Did Michael Dukakis run again in 1992? Did Walter Mondale give it a shot in 1988?
Well, I don't know. If they did, they were ignored, just like Bob Dole would have been had he'd run in 2000.
My message to Senator Kerry would be this: You had your chance. A good chance. You lost. Serve the country in the senate, and let someone else have a shot at the top.
It just makes sense.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Stewart won't be back with Reds
What is it with my favorite teams and announcers lately? First the Cavaliers axe Michael Reghi, and now the Reds have opted not to bring back Steve Stewart, in his third season as the club's radio announcer.
In a period of cheerleading public relations guys (ehhhehehUnderwoodehehehe), Stewart struck me as a very solid, professional announcer, who walked into a difficult spot and did very well.
Replacing someone as beloved as Joe Nuxhall was not easy, and I'm really surprised the Reds have gone in another direction.
Two good announcers gone from Ohio in less than a month. Look out.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Possiblities at Browns' Center
Here are a few people the Browns have called:
Mike Baab (1982-1987, 1990-1992)- He was the glue in the 1980s offensive line. I bet he still has the size. Plus, he lives in the area. And he's better tha Melvin Fowler.

Gregg Rakoczy (1987-1990)- Baab's replacement who never quite lived up to expectations. Hey, if at first you don't succeed ...

Steve Everitt (1993-1995)- Maybe the best offensive lineman picked by the Browns in the last 20 years. Hey, he can't be that old. Bring him in.

Peter Navy Tuiasosopo (Manumana in Necessary Roughness, circa 1991): Hey, if he could protect 61-year old Scott Bakula, he has to be pretty good. Plus, he won't be snapping to Kathy Ireland this time, so he won't be distracted.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Suggs fails physical; sent back to Cleveland
Just when we started getting used to the idea of life without Lee Suggs, Browns fans found out today that often injured running backs are like Ted Danson: They keep coming back.
It had gotten to the point where Curtis A. was all but certain William Green wasn't on the team anymore, since hardly anyone talked about him during the early days of training camp.
Well, he's still here, and so, as it turns out, is Lee Suggs. Gone is Derrick Strait, the cornerback the Browns had acquired in the deal.
In reality, this is bad news for the Browns. You get back a running back who may be disgruntled about being traded, and is without question still injured.
So what happens now? Does Suggs just get released eventually?
Worse, the Browns lost a cornerback who was promising. Aside from center, it was the team's biggest need.
Still is.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Gooden back with Cavs
Drew Gooden has always been the classic case of promise against production. He has the physical tools to be a dominant force beside the LeBron James for several years to come.
That's what the Cavaliers are hoping, now that they have signed him for three years.
I like the signing because much like last season, Cleveland didn't have a better option.
Still, if Gooden plays the way he did in game two against the Wizards in last year's playoffs more often, it's a steal.
The question is not talent. It's whether Gooden can stay motivated and productive. I think he can, and if that's the case, the Cavs will win a champioship.
Yes, I said it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Time Warner threatens legal action in NFL dispute
Can you guys settle this so I can watch BGSU players in exhibition games? Please?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tuesday Night Politics
Things are not looking good for Joe Lieberman, on this night anyway. It's no secret Lieberman is one of my favorite Democrats, a man I admire and have faith in.
I once confided to a professor in college there was a time when I wished Al Gore would win the election because I had so much faith in Joe.
Of course, I had no faith in Gore, which is why I voted for Bush in 2000.
Lieberman's recent battle has made me wonder about what some "liberals" stand for. The campaign against Lieberman has seemed, from an outsider's perspective, to be quite nasty. Lieberman may still run to retain his seat (as an Independent), but what happens from there is anybody's guess.
I have wanted to write about some of the things that have been directed Lieberman's way recently. I wanted to write the crowd has hijacked liberalism, and turned it into something dark and anger-filled. I used to say liberals I knew were always open to arguments and discussion. Until you disagreed with them.
This is not the case of all liberals. And I think most liberals are not represented by the Michael Moore, crowd.
But the situation has been troubling to more than a few liberals.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Great Moments in Broadcasting
NFL Network's Rich Eisen
"At the first preseason halftime, we'll honor Bruce Willis--pardon me that's Bill Willis."
Darn, I was waiting for that tribute.

Blogging the truth
If today's correction and withdrawal of a Reuters photograph teaches anyone anything, it should be the value of weblogs.
Just like two years ago, the blogs have stepped up and corrected a media error.
Of course, the situation here was more than an error. Someone at Reuters worked to make a photo of an attack in Beirut.
What hasn't been made clear is why the changes were made. What are the photojournalists under Reuters' employ trying to accomplish here?
Regardless, this is another black mark for big media, and another victory for the blogs.
I've seen a number of columns from "old journalists" who complain about the blogs' accountability. Certainly, some weblogs are better than others, some more accountable than others.
It's just like newspapers. Some are trustworthy, and some you can get while waiting in line at the grocery store. You just don't believe it when someone writes that pieces of Noah's Ark were found.
It's not hard to decide which blogs are which.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

NFL Network's dispute with Time Warner has positive result
Sometimes life is good and you don’t realize it. But I was blessed this week, and I finally figured out that yes, my life is pretty good.
Thank-you cards to the NFL Network and Time Warner Cable are in the mail.
Being on vacation and away from work, there just wasn’t much for me to get upset about in the past week. I was staying at a house that had Adelphia Cable, and therefore had the NFL Network, which I love.
Earlier this week, that all changed when Time Warner took over Adelphia. The result was the NFL Network was no longer available. That’s because Time Warner has not carried the NFL Network, and has yet to reach a deal to do so.
In the past, this would have been a minor annoyance. But this year, the NFL Network is not only showing every preseason game, but broadcasting eight regular season games as well. I spend a lot of my off time at this house, and I want to see the games.
Having already sent out emails requesting Time Warner pick up the station, I did what all good bloggers do: I blogged about it. Perhaps I was expecting the 15 readers of my site to show Time Warner the error of its ways.
Regardless, as I was checking the Internet to see if the millionaires at Time Warner and the millionaires at the NFL had worked out a deal to make enough millions together, I had a thought: This is pretty ridiculous.
The NFL Network is running commercials on the radio encouraging viewers to complain to the cable company. In response, Time Warner has started a website for viewers to complain to the NFL.
Lord knows what the eventual result will be. But we do know the immediate result: Millionaires are not only satisfied to be bitching themselves. They want everyone not as fortunate to bitch for them.
In the end I suspect both sides will win, reaching a deal that will compensate the NFL and the cable network.
But I also think the fans and subscribers will lose. Either they won’t see what they want on TV. Or they will, but have to pay more for it.
Still, there is an overwhelming positive. If getting a TV network on my cable package is one of the great gripes in life, things must be pretty good.
Thank you Time Warner. Thank you NFL Network. Your pettiness has shown this fan just how blessed he really is.
Also can be read at

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A question for the Indians
Why is Andy Marte not playing every day? He'll only get better with at-bats at the Major league level. And yet, Wedge is resisting, as if playing Aaron Boone three times a week is:
A) An upgrade
B) A chance to give Marte a much needed break. How does someone recover from three straight games anyway?
Of course, this is a guy who believes the world will end if Travis Hafner even looks at a baseball glove, as if Hafner could be any worse at first as Victor Martinez is at catcher.