Wednesday, November 29, 2006

An introduction:
Senator-elect Jim Webb, meet George Will.

My prediction:
I don't want Romeo Crennel fired. But if he is, here's my thought:
The Browns will never win as long as Randy Lerner owns them.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My father left me a message on my cell this morning about Casey Coleman.
Coleman, the Browns sideline reporter who has been a part of every Cleveland sports fan's life, died of pancreatic cancer. With that, a connection between several generations of Cleveland fans is gone.
Coleman worked at Channel 8 in Cleveland when I was growing up. My grandmother watched him every night.
"The Indians are going to trade Joe Carter to Boston for Wade Boggs," I remember her saying once, attributing the remark to Coleman. If Coleman said it, my grandmother believed it. Of course, the trade didn't happen, and for all I know, my grandmother was just trying to get a rise out of her sports-obsessed, eight-year old grandson.
Maybe she was just wanting to talk baseball, and assigning Coleman's name to the rumor would validate it. That's what Coleman meant to her, and in many ways, to me at the time.
My grandmother died almost 17 years ago. But when I think of Coleman, I almost always think of her.
My father remembers Coleman's father, Ken, as a great announcer for the Browns. It's a job his son would hold, but only briefly. Coleman was the Browns play-by-play announcer for two seasons -- the last two seasons of the old Browns. Coleman's job was difficult for a number of reasons. The first was he took over because of the death of Nev Chandler (who died of colon cancer in 1994). Chandler was the voice of the Browns during the mid-to-late 1980s, when Bernie Kosar was quarterback and the team was so popular that everything associated with it was gold. In my opinion, Chandler was the best announcer the Browns have had in my lifetime. He was popular and lovable, and his death seemed to forever close the door on that era.
I was often critical of Coleman as a play-by-play man. Looking back, I'm not sure if those were fair criticisms. Coleman came after a beloved figure, and came in when the Browns were led by an unpopular coach and an owner whose word wasn't really worth much.
Coleman also called games in 1995, the year the Browns announced their move. Casey's job couldn't have been easy. He had to watch a team that had seemingly quit, in front of fans who were angry and beaten.
Coleman stayed in Cleveland after the Browns left, and when they came back, became the sideline reporter, a position he held until his death. Even in recent weeks, Browns' announcer Jim Donovan has referred to Coleman's replacement --Andre Knott -- as "filling in" for the stricken broadcaster. It gave hope that Coleman would return.
Coleman could have spent his final year on a beach somewhere. He could have traveled the world. But instead, he kept working. In March, he was on a draft day radio show, and was infuriated that the Browns were pursuing quarterback Joey Harrington.
He also sat in for a few innings on an Indians' telecast this past summer, doing play-by-play (and doing a better job than just about any of the normal announcers). Coleman, when I heard him, never talked about his illness. He did sports as if he would keep on doing it forever.
I didn't know Casey personally. But like Chandler before him, I felt like I did. I have yet to hear anyone say a bad word about him. He battled his disease with amazing courage, something evident to anyone who saw or heard him in the final year of his life.
God bless you, Casey. Rest in peace.
Erik shares his thoughts.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

According to Sports Weekly, the Indians offered Moises Alou a two-year deal, which he declined. The years change, but the Indians still remain the same. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of players who don't want to sign here.
* So I ask the question: What will the Indians do to improve from last season? The Reds saw they needed a better defensive shortstop and a reliever. They filled those holes. The Indians needed a starting second baseman, a better bullpen, and a more consistent offense in the form of an outfielder or corner player. They traded for Josh Barfield, but have yet to address the other two needs.
* Anyone else not buying the Indians pursuit of Luis Gonzalez?
* As of right now, this is the lineup
C-Casey Blake
1b-Casey Blake
2b- Casey Blake
ss-Casey Blake
3b-Casey Blake
rf- Casey Blake
cf-Casey Blake
lf-Casey Blake
dh-Casey Blake
-Oh wait, sorry. That's Eric Wedge's dream lineup.
Here's the actual one, as I see it.

C-Victor Martinez
1B- Ryan Garko
2B-Josh Barfield
SS-Jhonny Peralta
3B-Andy Marte
RF-Casey Blake
CF- Grady Sizemore
LF-Shin Soo Choo/Jason Michaels
DH-Travis Hafner
* Not exactly the '27 Yankees, is it?


Thanksgiving thoughts
Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday of mine, because it comes at one of my favorite times of the year. Football, turkey and family drive the holiday, which also makes it enjoyable.
Knowing I should write about things I'm thankful for is one of the things about Thanksgiving that gives me pause: should I write seriously? Should I write about sports?

* I'm thankful for a supporting family and friends, who have helped me through more than they can imagine.
* I'm thankful we have people in this country who sacrifice themselves so we can live in this country, and keep it going. Many will not spend today with their family today. We owe these people so much.
* Everyone have a good holiday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Steelers 24, Browns 20
Honestly, I don't remember the last time I was so down after a Browns' game. But what sticks with me, 36 hours later, is a strange feeling of optimism.
The last four times the Browns have played the Steelers, they have been blown off the ball.
Not Sunday. The Browns are getting better and playing very hard. Some will say winning is all that matters, and I subscribe to that line of thinking, to a point.
But let's face it. From the moment the Browns began play in 1999, the franchise has been in shambles. The hope, after the hiring of Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage, was that the organization would do things the right way, and get back to respectability.
Anyone who would have expected Savage and Crennel to turn it around in two years was nuts.
But I think the Browns are headed in the right direction.
* It was great seeing Josh Cribbs take a kickoff 92 yards, but it had a bad side -- the defense needed a break. The three and out on the Browns second to last possession didn't help.
* I wish the Browns knew how to save timeouts. The last one taken before the TD really hurt them.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Top 5 Browns moments:1999-2006
As I write this, it’s early Sunday morning. The Browns-Steelers game is less than 12 hours away.
Both teams are 3-6, but I don’t think there’s a debate on who is the better team. The Browns are still rebuilding, while the Steelers are a year removed from a championship.
Basically, if Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers destroy the Browns today, I won’t be shocked.
Earlier this week, I was ready to write a column about how the Browns-Steelers rivalry is not really a rivalry anymore. The days of Joe “Turkey” Jones sending Cleveland into frenzy by throwing Steelers’ quarterback Terry Bradshaw on his head are long gone.
Since the Browns returned in 1999, they have played Pittsburgh 15 times (including one playoff game). The Browns have won three of those games.
I was going to write another sob-column about the new Browns, about how bad they are. But tonight, as I was looking for a video tape, I found one marked Browns-New Orleans, 1999. This was the Browns first win since being back in the league. It brought a smile to my face, and gave me a new objective: The top five post-1999 Browns moments.
Here we go:
1. Rookie running back William Green breaks a 64-yard run late, and the Browns secure a playoff spot (with the help of a Jets win later) for the first time since 1994 with a 24-16 win over the Falcons in the 2002 season finale. Green rushed for 178 yards and looked like a star. Sadly, he never was to attain such greatness again.
2. In 1999, Tim Couch throws a 56-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Johnson as time expired, giving the Browns a 21-16 win over the Saints, their first in almost four years. As I mentioned, I have the game on tape and it’s a horrible one. The Saints committed five turnovers, but the finish makes it a classic.
3. Two weeks later, Chris Palmer does his greatest coaching job, and the expansion Browns avenge a 43-0 loss to the Steelers earlier in the season with a 16-15 win. In Pittsburgh, no less. Watching in Cleveland, I started hyperventilating as Phil Dawson’s game-winning kick went through. Thankfully, my mother supplied a paper bag. Had I been smart, I’d have used the bag to cover my head for the rest of 1999. The Browns finished 2-14.
4. Butch Davis brought optimism, competitiveness, and hope in 2001. Five years later, Browns fans shake their heads about the man’s era, which was filled with failed draft picks and overall chaos. But in 2001, he looked like a magic man. And on a rainy October day in Cleveland, he led the Browns to a 24-14 home win over the defending Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens. Tim Couch threw two late TD passes, one to Johnson, one to rookie Quincy Morgan, and gave the fans a moment we had only dreamed about. The win also improved the Browns to 4-2.
5. Davis looked like Superman a few weeks later, when, led by some running back named Ben Gay, the Browns again beat the Ravens, this time in Baltimore. A sweep over the Ravens made the season a success. Again, the success didn’t last, but for as much heat as Davis has taken, Browns fans should be grateful to him for giving them hope – and joy – by beating Baltimore twice.
Honorable Mentions:
2002: Quincy Morgan catches a last-second 50-yard pass against Jacksonville as time expires to beat the Jaguars, in almost a carbon-copy of New Orleans in 1999.
2004: Jeff Garcia leads the Browns to a 20-3 win over Baltimore in the season opener.
I’m not really sure if I feel better or worse about the Browns after writing this.

Michigan probably doesn't deserve a rematch
It was billed as the Game of the Century.
I'm not sure if it was the greatest game I have ever seen (or even the greatest Ohio State-Michigan game I have ever seen), but it was very good. But as great as the game was, it leaves a complicated aftermath.
The Buckeyes have punched their ticket for Arizona. Now the question will be who takes them on.
Some will say, after Ohio State's 42-39 win over Michigan Saturday, that there should be a rematch for the national title. I'm not in that line of thinking, but the closeness of the Wolverines' loss will certainly make it interesting over the next few weeks.
I don't favor a rematch for a few reasons. OSU coach Jim Tressel said earlier this week that a team should win its conference in order to play for the national title. This was a very gutsy statement to make, in the days before the big game, but I think the coach has a point.
Ohio State is considered by almost everyone to be the best team in the country. Saturday was Michigan's shot to knock it off. Though it was a valiant effort, the Wolverines came up short. Even if Michigan were to play Ohio State and beat it, that still wouldn't really prove anything. Ohio State plays Michigan twice. The two teams split. Which is the champion? Michigan.
I'm not saying the system is fair, but we don't know how USC, Florida, or Arkansas would do against the Buckeyes. We do know how Michigan did.
If two of those teams finish the season with one loss, they have as much right to the championship game as any team. And those two teams could claim conference titles, something Michigan does not have.
Notre Dame could also finish with one loss, but in that case, I can't see how anyone (not even me) could justify putting the Irish in the title game, after what Michigan did to them.
Of course, if January comes and Michigan is the only one-loss team left, they should face the Bucks again.
Which pretty much makes the whole thing moot.
And isn't that the point?
Also can be read at

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Panel Special: OSU-Michigan
Joel Hammond: Michigan because this is the defense built to stop a Troy Smith offense. Fast front seven to contain him. Tough front seven to force him into third and longs. Good ENOUGH secondary to get ENOUGH stops to get them the win.

Nihar Vasavada: OSU because although Michigan has a strong defense, Ohio St. has too many weapons. Also, Chad Henne doesn't frighten me. In short, Ohio St. will win because of Troy Smith, Jim Tressel, and Lloyd Carr.

Vivek: I think the Ohio State passing game is going to come through ... they have too many weapons.

Curtis A: Ohio State by six, because of Troy Smith, and the balanced offense.

Zach: Anyone who knows how I pick knows why I'm doing this: Michigan

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bo Schembechler dies
It doesn't matter where you're from.It doesn't matter where you graduated, or what school you cheer for. Bo Schembechler's death today was a shock and turned what had been a fun week into a sad final days.
Schembechler was a great coach, and one of the biggest reasons the rivalry is what it has become.
May he rest in peace.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

John Edwards in the news again
Hey, where else are you going to find a Playstation?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Browns 17, Falcons 13
Without question, Sunday's contest was just the tonic this conservative needed after a "thumpin" Tuesday. It wasn't that I was so much behind the Republicans, but actually, the media response afterwards has made me want to hide in a cabin, without electricity.
Speaking of media overhypes, the Browns' game Sunday was Michael Vick's second against Cleveland in his career. He's 0-2, mainly because the Browns confused him both times.
The Browns, in 2002, employed a bend-but-don't-break system that yielded 16 Falcons' points. Sunday, it was 13.
While PTI and other shows focus on why Vick lost, I prefer to focus on why the Browns won.
* Kellen Winslow: Any doubt now he's the best player on the team?
* Kamerion Wimbley: The Browns have not had a linebacker this good since Jamir Miller, and in reality, Wimbley will surpass him soon enough.
* No interceptions: Charlie Frye still makes me wince (his fumble at the end of the first half was essentially Murphy's law on a last-second pass), but the kid from Willard threw the ball away when he needed to, took a sack when he needed to, and didn't get picked off.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veterans Day
Today I got up, went to work, wrote a few stories, and went home. Tomorrow I plan on seeing my family, as I have done most Sundays this year.
But what if there was no Sunday? What if I didn't see my family for years? What if I went away to a far off land to serve my country so others could live life the right way?
I haven't done that. But many others, better people than I will ever be, have.
On Veterans Day, I usually think about my grandfather, who sacrificed years of his life -- away from his family, friends and normal existance -- so I could be doing what I am today. He came back, and some 35 years later, I was born. I got to know him well, but I am not sure if I ever said thank you to him. I probably didn't. He passed away when I was a child.
But what my grandfather, and countless others like him, have done should never be forgotten. I got to know my grandfather. Some people aren't as fortunate with their loved ones who served.
To everyone who has sacrificed to keep this amazing experiement of a country going, thank you. We owe you so much.

Happy 44th birthday
To former Indians' outfielder Cory Snyder, my favorite player growing up. More on this later.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Oh, right ...Indians trade
In typical Indians' fashion, they have found a way to fill a need without spending any of Larry Dolan's cash.
Enter second baseman Josh Barfield, who was acquired today from the San Diego Padres for third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and pitcher Andrew Brown.
On the surface, Barfield reminds me of Brandon Phillips, since both are good defensively (Barfield had a .987 fielding percentage in 2006),have gap-power (13 homers for Barfield in a large park) and a hit for a solid average (Barfield hit .280).
Remember how the Indians traded Phillips last season and got nothing? Now they gave up two solid prospects for a Phillips clone.
Which is not to say I'm against the deal. But I need to be convinced the Indians will spend the money they do have to improve the club.
Barfield is a better option at second than any of the ones being discussed, so I'll rest on that positive and take a wait-and-see approach for the rest of the offseason.

Super Wednesday
So, the Democrats have taken control of the House and likely the Senate. I personally agree with Sen. John McCain when he says conservatives have "lost their way," but I think there's more to it.
* The Republican party in my state, Ohio, has been decimated by scandals and general incompetence. The truth is that in Ohio, Republicans deserved to lose. And they did.
* Then again, it was upsetting to see Mike DeWine go down to someone like Sherrod Brown. Many papers endorsed DeWine, and I had hoped a late push could save his seat. But DeWine was a victim of circumstance. He got pulled into scandals he had nothing to do with, and became a member of a club that the voters just wanted to get rid of.
* I watched the coverage on CNN last night. Bill Bennett and J.C Watts were on, so I can't go on about unbalanced coverage for the left.
But really, how does a hate-filled partisan hack like Paul Begala get a job at CNN?
* Andrew Sullivan certainly appears to be gloating over at his site. I still respect Andrew's opinions, and respect him in general. But he seems to be jumping the gun on the celebration today. He calls himself a conservative, but when he writes a headline like "Catholics come Home" to describe Catholics and their return to the Democratic party, he sounds more like a Democrat cheerleader.
* Did John Kerry really call Ted Kennedy "The best Senator in the history of this country" last night? I'm asking, because that's what it sounded like. If true, the Republicans need to keep cameras by him at all times.
* I called for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation over two years ago. But the criticism on him is unfair, if only for this reason: The Secretary of Defense offered his resignation before, only to have the President refuse it. If you're upset with Rumsfeld, blame Bush. He's the one that has left him there.
* Michelle Malkin suggests the President could go for a minimum-wage hike. Are we sure he's really a conservative?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Chargers 32, Browns 25
Sunday was the first time I thought about Charlie Frye not being the answer to the Browns' never-ending quarterback situation.
In 2001, Tim Couch started all 16 football games. Before that (dating back to 1990), the Browns have always had a question of who the quarterback is, or will be.
So here we are. Frye throws for 236 yards, but could have been picked off about four times. He also still plays like an all-out gunslinger. That's good, to a point. But the best quarterbacks know when a play is destined to fail, and know when to either go down or throw the ball away.
It doesn't help Frye is running for his life out there. That's not his fault. And remember that most great (or even good) quarterbacks take a while to develop.
* The defense was fine until LaDainian Tomlinson ran wild on them in the second half. That's what the greats do.
* What was with CBS announcer Gus Johnson's "Ya-HAH" when LT broke loose? He sounded like a male cheerleader. I've said it before: Of all the networks covering the NFL, CBS is by far the worst. FOX has the best talent (Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are fantastic), NBC has the best camera work, and ESPN has the best theme song. CBS has the great James Brown. But why is Boomer Esiason not in a booth as a color commentator? On MNF radio calls, he's great.
* The Browns are a work in progress. But I do believe they are getting better.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

John Kerry just doesn't get it
It's not about what John Kerry said about U.S. troops that annoys me. I don't think he meant to imply troops are stupid. Of course, a quick look at Kerry comments over the years has caused me to believe he doesn't really mean to imply anything.
He's a career politician. He panders. He makes bad jokes. He talks about his favorite non-existent Red Sox players.
When I look at the outrage caused over Kerry's remarks, I understand a lot of it. But I am not going to pretend to be offended by John Kerry. The man lost in 2004, and if he had any sense, he'd realize he will never be president. His best chance was two years ago, and I don't think the Democratic leadership will put their stock in him in another two years. He lost in his best opportunity. He's done.
My biggest problem with Kerry is that he seems to have this idea that he deserves the presidency, as if it's his destiny. It makes him come accross as smug and arrogant.
So when he makes a stupid remark, and then doesn't apoligize for it, I don't get angry, I don't ask him to apoligize. I just hope that eventually, he realizes his career has reached its peak and he goes away.
* Isn't it funny how ABC World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson refers to Kerry's comment as an "idle political remark?" After three years of every Bush mispeak being shown and reshown?
What about Trent Lott? Was anyone in the national media calling his ridiculous comments about Strom Thurmond "idle?" Maybe they were, but it didn't seem like it at the time. But just as Kerry didn't mean troops were dumb, Lott didn't mean we'd be better off with Thurmond policies from the 1950s today (Lott certainly didn't help himself afterwards, and I don't mean to say his remarks were OK. But he certainly didn't mean them any more than Kerry did his).
If we learn nothing from politicians and their mispeaks, we must learn this: In the spotlight, everyone says dumb things. But we're either harsh on all or harsh on none. We can't select based on political party what we'll be offended by. The media this month has struck me as very one-sided. Maybe that's just my bias, but it seems the major networks really want to jump on with a Democratic victory. That's fine. But honestly, if Fox News gets a bad rap for being biased (in many ways deserved), then liberals in this country shouldn't act as though that network is the only one with a bias.
Ask yourself: If Dick Cheney had called farmers dumb while trying to tell a joke, would Gibson call it idle? Or would he, and the rest of the major networks be talking about a disconnect between the GOP and rural America? Would it matter if Cheney was taking a dig at Willie Nelson or John Mellencamp?
Probably not.