Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Turning Point
If you had hopes of the Cavaliers returning to the NBA Finals this year, even after only attaining the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, give it up.

The Cavaliers' inability to close out Washington at home, even with a five-point lead and the ball with 1:37 left in the game, is a clear sign the team is not going anywhere.

At this point, I'm actually expecting the team to lose the next two games to Washington. Even if the Cavaliers advance to the second round, it will likely end there.

The Cavaliers had a chance to put away a team on their own home court. They had a chance to make the series one no one will talk about.

Instead, they came out with the "we'll get around to winning it when we feel like it" attitude, and Washington took advantage.

To not have the killer instinct -- after a series where the teams have gone back and forth verbally and physically -- is inexcusable.

Gilbert Arenas didn't even play, and the Cavs still couldn't put Washington down.

I think Washington will win the series, and the Cavs will go into the offseason wondering how they let the Wizards up.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Did anyone else hear the bizarre rant Tom Hamilton went on during the eighth inning of the Indians game Saturday?

Hamilton, the Indians radio voice since 1990, went after umpire Derryl Cousins after the latter missed a call at second base (he called a Cleveland runner out on a force when the Yankees' Robinson Cano never had possession of the baseball at second). Tribe manager Eric Wedge came out to argue, and was ejected.

Hamilton (and fellow radio voice Mike Hegan) said that Cousins was out of position, then criticized him for not getting help on the play.

Then things got really weird.

Hamilton brought up how Cousins was brought up to the Major Leagues during the 1979 umpires strike, implying that:

A) he was a bad umpire who was only in the majors because of a decision he made 29 years ago


B)was unethical in crossing the line -- again, 29 years ago.

What B had to do with missing the call at second is anyone's guess. Hamilton can get rather negative sometimes, but this was a different level. It wasn't constructive criticism; it was just mean.

From what I heard, Hegan didn't comment on Cousins' past, only the play itself.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Phil Prusa's NFL Mock Draft
1. Dolphins - Jake Long, OT, Michigan
Miami has already sealed the deal and signed Long to a 5 year contract.

2. Rams - Glenn Dorsey, DT, Louisiana State
Tough decision between Dorsey and Chris Long, but Dorsey is the better player.

3. Falcons - Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
Atlanta needs to move on from the Michael Vick PR mess.

4. Raiders - Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
Hardly a need pick, but this selection would have Al Davis fingerprints all over it.

5. Chiefs - Chris Long, DE, Virginia
With two picks in the first round, Kansas City can replace the traded Jared Allen.

6. Jets - Vernon Gholston, OLB, Ohio State
With their top two choices (McFadden and Ryan) off the board, New York needs to address the linebacker slot.

7. Patriots - Keith Rivers, OLB, USC
The selection of Rivers would be a welcome addition to an aging linebacker unit.

8. Ravens - Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
Baltimore's secondary was old and injuries last year. McKelvin is the best CB in the 2008 Draft.

9. Bengals - Sedrick Ellis, DE, USC
Cincinnati has loved Ellis for weeks now and is hoping he lasts until their ninth pick.

10. Saints - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
At some point, the Saints have to be able to prevent the big pass play constantly torching their secondary.

11. Bills - Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State
Could be a nice one-two punch with Thomas and Lee Evans at the receiver position.

12. Broncos - Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
The tackle position was a trouble spot for Denver all last season.

13. Panthers - Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
With holes at multiple positions, Harvey plugs the biggest need.

14. Bears - Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
Time to acknowledge Cedric Benson is a bust.

15. Lions - Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
Having just missed Mendenhall, head coach Rod Marinelli takes a linebacker that can play inside or outside.

16. Cardinals - Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Edgerrin James is still productive, but he's on the wrong side of his career age-wise.

17. Chiefs - Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
At some point, Kansas City has to address the offensive line which was putrid last season.

18. Texans - Brandon Albert, OT, Virginia
Ever since entering the league in 2002, the tackle position has been a problem for the Texans.

19. Eagles - Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
The typical Andy Reid selection which should fill a huge need.

20. Buccaneers - DeSean Jackson, WR, California
After an easy schedule last season, Tampa Bay now needs some offensive weapons to continue their success.

21. Redskins - Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
Either him or Phillip Merling. But with Merling coming off a hernia operation, Malcolm Kelly should be the right move.

22. Cowboys - Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
Stewart backs up Marion Jones his rookie season, then can take over as the starter in his second year.

23. Steelers - Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
Pittsburgh's usually strong offensive line had an off year in 2007, which led to a high amount of QB sacks.

24. Titans - James Hardy, WR, Indiana
Here's a novel idea: How about getting some receivers for Vince Young to throw to?

25. Seahawks - Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue
Seattle has nothing at the tight end spot right now.

26. Jaguars - Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
There are character issues here, which is why Talib drops on my board. With Peyton Manning in this division, the move is worth the risk.

27. Chargers - Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
Could go for an offensive tackle, but corner is the more pressing need.

28. Ravens - Chad Henne, QB, Michigan (Projected trade with the Cowboys)
Knowing teams above them could nab Henne in the second round, Baltimore pulls the trigger on this trade and makes a deal with Dallas.

29. 49ers - Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
Adding Isaac Bruce is nice, but he can't play forever.

30. Packers - Tyrell Johnson, S, Arkansas State
Age is creeping up on the Green Bay secondary. Packers most likely address that with their first round pick.

31. Patriots - FORFEITED

32. Giants - Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
New York can fill one of the few needs they have by selecting Phillips.


The Fourth Annual Andy Barch Pre-Draft Interview
1. Did the Dolphins make the right selection?

Yes, I believe they did because like John Holmes, they had a TON of holes to fill. The Dolphins needed Warriors to win the trenches on both sides of the ball and Bill Parcells knows that. They are aging quickly on defense, but I think they'll be able to address that in the second round. Getting Jake Long will give them two good offensive tackles (Vernon Carey being the other) and that will allow them to fill their other needs later in the draft.

2. Who is the best quarterback in this year's draft?

The guy who will give you the immediate results is Matt Ryan. The scouts say he's a sure thing because of his intangibles. I don't know about his arm strength and he threw too many interceptions last year, but he will be the first QB taken. I personally like the long term potential of Andre Woodson. He's got a long throwing motion which will need to be changed, but his pocket presence and athleticism will set him apart from the rest of the QB's in this draft when we look back at it five years from now. I like Woodson's arm, I like his athletic ability, I like his pocket presence, the only thing I don't like is his release. He will be the best of this class five years down the road.

3. Was it a good idea for the Cowboys to grab Pacman Jones?

Not at all. Its too big of a risk but Jerry Jones likes to take risks. How can you bank on that guy not "making it rain" several times throughout the year? That place (Dallas) is a complete circus. The locker room is split in half already because people don't know who to tie their allegance to; is it the current head coach Wade Phillips or is it his eventual successor Jason Garrett? By grabbing Pacman, they just added one more clown to the circus. Pacman is a great player, but he's done nothing to make me believe that he will change his ways and be a different person.

4. Any chance Chad Johnson gets dealt tomorrow?

I'd be SHOCKED, especially if these reports are true about the Redskins offering the Bengals a FIRST ROUND PICK and potentially another first rounder for him. If they are sticking to their guns, then I think they are applying the kind of stubborness that eventually gets people fired. First off, Chad Johnson is OVERRATED. He's had one season with double digit touchdowns. That's not enough for me to justify surrendering a first round pick for that guy. Second, you know that he's got some baggage now. If he wasnt dealt for a first rounder before the draft, then I have no reason to beleive that he wont go for anything less during the draft.

5. Is there any reason for Browns fans to watch the draft?

On day one? no. On day two, certainly. Like any team, they need to get deeper and they need to find ways to stabilize that secondary. I think if nothing else, for Browns fans it will be fun to see what their AFC North Opponents do. But with no picks on day one, it will be very tough to get involved if you are Browns fan. Be sure to check out our mock draft at


James Clyburn calls Bill Clinton's behavior "bizarre"
Join the club. Some of us have been saying that since 1992


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reds thoughts
Wayne Krivsky's firing as Reds general manager likely had nothing to do with the team's 9-12 start.

Krivsky's ticket out was punched the day Walt Jocketty was brought to the organization. Some of us were surprised Krivsky made it through the winter.

But the problem with the Reds over the past 12 years has been a lack of stability. Actually, there have been thousands of things wrong with the franchise since its last playoff appearance in 1995. But the most glaring is that the ever since Jim Bowden was fired in 2003, the team has been through four general managers and not one winning season.

Walt Jocketty is a very good baseball man. His track record with the Cardinals (7 playoff appearances in 12 years as Cardinals' GM, a World Series title in '05).

In reality, Krivsky was not given enough time to build a winner. But Reds' owner Robert Castellini has shown he's an impatient man. He wants the Reds to win now. In fairness to the owner, Jocketty is like an all-star pitcher, while Krivsky is a young flame thrower with loads of potential. Castellini saw the chance to grab a star, and he did.

It may not work out the way he hopes, but Reds fans are used to that by now.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Time's "Green" cover
Just plain disgraceful.


Curtis A. on the radio
That's my brother. Doesn't he sound good?


Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Indians have only one batter in their regular starting lineup batting better than .300 (Victor Martinez).

They have two batting less than .200 (Casey Blake, Asdrubal Cabrera), and three batting less than .230 (Travis Hafner, Jhonny Peralta, Franklin Gutierrez).

Fans have seen this type of thing ever since the team rebuilt in 2002. For some reason, no matter how potent the lineup appears at times, there will be a few periods during the season when the Indians go into a collective slump.

This is not 1995 anymore; the Indians can no longer afford an all-star at every position. I get that. But figuring out how the Indians have constantly managed to go hot and cold together for five years can be maddening.

Let's look at the five players in the lineup who are under-producing.

1. Blake- Everyone knows my feelings here. He's hot for a few weeks, gets on base, goes cold, gets warm, stays cold. For the first 19 games, the fifth-highest paid player on the Indians roster has been disappointing. But I'm confident he'll warm up to an acceptable level. The Indians know what they have in this guy; they paid him $6.1 million, but just for one year. I really believe Indians general manager Mark Shapiro will look for another option after this season, but until then, Blake is great, horrid, and lukewarm. Depends on the week.

2. Cabrera- Assuming Eric Wedge's fascination with Jamey Carroll wears off, Cabrera will get time to improve on his cold start. Josh Barfield is just waiting by the phone at this point, but I don't see the Indians demoting Cabrera unless he stays around .200 into mid-May.

3. Hafner- Are the days of his ridiculous production behind him? It's still April, but Hafner has not exactly inspired fear so far this year. He has one big hit (the homer in Anaheim) and a few good games, but the consistency which alluded him last year has followed him. The Hafner of 2006 was an MVP candidate. The Hafner since has been an overpaid pro wrestling fan.

4. Jhonny Peralta- You just never know. A few years ago I thought he may win a batting title. Now I am content if he can keep his average above .260. People scoff when I tell them the Indians should trade this guy. It's true Jhonny may realize the superstar potential in him somewhere else. But I'm beginning to doubt he'll ever find it here.

5. Gutierrez- He looks less and less like an everyday player every time I see him. He's out of options, so he's here for good unless the Indians deal him. A tremendous defender, to be sure, but is like so many others on this team -- he gets hot, then goes frigid and makes you wonder why he's out there.

Note: I leave Jason Michaels off because I think he's a lost cause. He will likely up the average, but he has failed every time the Indians have given him steady playing time. He's a National League bench player. That's it.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Just what does Bill Maher have to say to make him culturally irrelevant? This guy is not a political pundit or a commentator. He's an asshole.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sabathia, Indians
C.C Sabathia is an entirely different pitcher.

Not just from last year. The truth is we have never seen the guy that was on the mound Wednesday night before.

The optimists (which, pretty much means the Indians announcers, everyone employed by STO and most in the Cleveland media) want to tell you it's early, that this club can turn it around.

Go back to 2006 and you'll pretty much hear the same thing.

But forget everyone else on the team. If Sabathia doesn't turn it around soon, this team is a lost cause. His inability to get out of the fifth inning in back-to-back starts is alarming. Tonight's offense pretty much called it a night after David Dellucci's homer, knowing that if C.C wasn't going to get it done, what chance did they have?

I don't have any idea what's wrong with Sabathia. But if he continues to pitch the way he has, the Indians will be lucky to win 75 games.


Browns coach Romeo Crennel told reporters after last season that the Browns would be aggressive in the offseason in trying to improve themselves.

His reasoning was that teams either get better or worse, but never stay the same. It was late December when he made those remarks, but they stuck with me. The Browns made a number of changes this offseason.

The Indians, coming within one game of the World Series last year -- essentially stayed with what they had.

Fifteen games in, it looks like the Indians have gotten worse.

In Wednesday's lineup, three of the nine hitters were batting less than .200. When the game got out of hand, Wedge brought in Jason Michaels, who went 0 for 2 and is now hitting below .100.

It didn't matter how the Indians hit Wednesday night, and they seemed to know it. Even manager Eric Wedge, who doesn't criticize much, said his team was giving away at-bats.

Maybe this is rock bottom for the Indians. Or maybe it's just the beginning of what will be a disappointing season.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Close the book on Borowski
You knew the Indians were in trouble before Joe Borowski even threw a pitch.

The team was leading Boston, 4-3, going to the bottom of the ninth. That alone should be setting off bells, since Borowski usually needs a few runs to work with.

But Borowski's problem so far this year is more specific than in the past. His fastball Monday night was topping out in the low 80s. He threw David Ortiz a pitch the slugger should have destroyed. Instead, it fell in shallow left for a hit.

But throwing fastballs to Manny Ramirez is hard enough. Throwing 81 mile per hour fastballs is disaster.

The Indians have problems all over the place, but the most pressing is the bullpen. Rafael Betancourt gave up a solo homer tonight, setting the stage for Borowski's meltdown.

Jake Westbrook pitched well, but he can't go nine innings every week. If Borowski is hurt, or for some other reason needs to be removed as closer, the Indians could be in trouble.

The only reliever on the staff who has closed is Jorge Julio, and he's a middle reliever on this team.

What happens from here is anyone's guess. But there is no way the Indians can expect to compete with the upper-tier teams in the American League without a consistent closer.

And it's looking like Borowski can no longer fill that spot.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

There will come a time this season when a loss by the Indians frustrates me to no end.

Luckily for readers of this blog, this is not that time. So the Indians are 4-7. So the team is inconsistent in every area. So the team looks as motivated as me before a math exam.

So what? The Indians are streaky, and have been ever since Eric Wedge took over as manager. Jason Michaels, David Dellucci and Franklin Gutierrez will never remind anyone of all stars, at least not this season. But they are streaky as well. So is Casey Blake, Jhonny Peralta and even Travis Hafner.

There are a number of question marks on this team. Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko are the only players in the starting lineup I am really certain of.

But it doesn't matter. The Indians can afford a bad start from Fausto Carmona, C.C. Sabathia and Paul Byrd from time to time. What they cannot afford is three bad starts in the same week.

But you have to think Sabathia will turn it around. You have to think Carmona's start Saturday was a blip on the radar.

Byrd I'm not sure of. But Jeremy Sowers is a phone call away.

If the bullpen keeps imploding, then it could be a long year.

Maybe the Indians are only meant to contend in odd-numbered years. But there's no reason to worry too much. The Indians will get good at some point.

But we have seen this before. The Indians have shown they can come out of streaks like this. I'm guessing they will again.


Friday, April 11, 2008

The stupidity of Barack Obama's remarks
The problem with Barack Obama is he might be starting to believe his own hype.

The man who has consistently been credited for being eloquent was anything but in a speech where he used a rather condescending tone to describe rural Americans:

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

I live in the Midwest, and I'm not a man who is much for guns or religion. But I know people who are.

They don't "cling" to anything when they vote. They vote for the issues that are important to them; they vote for who they think is best. It may not be the issues some want to hear about, but it's better than what some Obama supporters have said when asked why they're supporting him.

It seems to me there are two things the senator is saying here. He's saying he knows what people need more than they do, and he's saying they are not smart enough to know what he does.

This may be why Democrats have struggled to win in places like Ohio and the south. They talk down to the voters there, while their supporters mock them as simpletons. And then they wonder why these people vote Republican.

Obama's response to the criticism wasn't much better. Sometimes, it's OK to say you made a mistake, instead of using it as a chance to flex your verbal muscle.


Byrd, others won't face discipline
Once again, baseball chooses to sweep its past under the rug. And who'd have thought Byrd not being suspended would be bad news for the Indians?


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

After 9 games
Paul Byrd pitching badly does not bother me so much. At best, he's the fifth starter (albeit a well-paid one).

The Indians somewhat poor hitting doesn't bother me that much. They are streaky; they have been for years.

But there's one thing that is more concerning to me than anything else -- the erratic bullpen.

Joe Borowski blew a save in amazing fashion Monday, giving up a grand slam and a two run lead in the ninth inning to Torri Hunter. That in itself is something we just have to accept will happen from time to time, as long as he's the closer.

But what's more troubling is what happened the inning before, when Rafael Betancourt allowed a solo homer (also to Hunter) that broke a tie.

The bullpen hasn't exactly been great so far this season. Jensen Lewis, one of last season's most dependable relievers, could not hold a deficit at two.

If you don't have hitters, you will be OK if you have great starting pitching. Have subpar starting pitching, that can be helped by a very good bullpen.

But a bad bullpen can negate everything. Remember 2004?

And that's what concerns me.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Some answers on the Indians
Is it time to worry about the Indians? No, not yet. We're five games into the season, and this team's offense always runs hot and cold.

Still, I think the last few games does show how crucial Victor Martinez is. It's obvious when you see that Jason Michaels is batting third. One day someone will need to explain to me why Ryan Garko is always buried in the lineup. Wouldn't today's order been more imposing with Garko third and Michaels somewhere far, far away?

- Still, the Indians will be fine as long as the pitching holds up. I was worried about Rafael Betancourt before he even threw a pitch this season, simply because it's almost impossible to duplicate a season like the one he had.

C.C. Sabathia doesn't concern me too much. He won't have to pitch in Oakland again until he's either in the playoffs or in another uniform. For whatever reason, he struggles out there.

Cliff Lee will be making his first major league start since tipping his cap to fans after getting shelled in a game last summer. He needs a good game, if for no other reason than to restore his confidence.

- Curtis A. has a very good saying about baseball. He says divisions are never won in April, but they can be lost in April.

We are still very early in the season. But if the last few games have shown anything, it's that Victor Martinez is the MVP of the offense. Can you imagine if he went on the DL, or worse, went into a Travis Hafner-like decline?

The more I see of Hafner, the more I wonder if his elbow problems will prevent him from ever being the type of hitter he was a few years ago. And the truth is, the Indians need him to be a .300, 40-homer guy. They paid him way too much to be a glorified Marty Cordova.

- Again, it's early. But it wouldn't be like me to not be looking for signs, even in the first week of the year.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Great Moments in Indians Broadcasting
"Leadoff walks and two-out walks always seem to be a nagging problem for pitchers.-- Matt Underwood, in the ninth inning of today's Indians game.

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Fonda for Obama
Celebrities don't gain politicians votes. But some, like Jane Fonda, could cost politicians votes.

Now, Barack Obama didn't hold a press conference with this rather dispicable lady, so I don't want to blame him for her support.

If I were on the Obama campaign, I'd be calling Fonda's people, trying to get her to change her position to neutral, at least publicly.

This happened before I was born. But for those who don't know why Fonda is such a controversial figure, even today, here's why.

Jimmy Carter, too. Maybe The Common Cold and Mosquito Bites will support him tomorrow.


Bengals give up on Chris Henry
That Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry was in trouble with the law again this week surprised no one.

That the team finally released him was a surprise.

I'm not a fan of the Bengals, but I give the team credit for finally deciding keeping the receiver on the team just wasn't worth it. He was always going to be a problem, and the team did the right thing.

As for Henry, when the Bengals have had it with you, where do you go? Maybe Baltimore or Oakland.