Wednesday, January 28, 2009

10 more things
- I hope to one day try to spend so much money so irresponsibly that I can refer to it as a "stimulus."

- I'm taking the Steelers by about 10 points in the Super Bowl.

- Al Gore sure has some odd timing.

- I guarantee you my friend Vince will comment on this post.

- If Bob Dylan had the ability to sing the way he did during his Nashville years, why didn't he sing that way all the time?

- LeBron James in the MVP of the NBA, but Mo Williams is the MVP of the Cavaliers.

- Tony Kornheiser asking Warren Sapp about fans that are grandmothers is an effective way to waste time on PTI.

- World Wrestling Entertainment will not be around in 10 years. At least not as an American-based company.

- The Indians have the best public relations people in baseball. If you wonder why, you haven't read the blog much.

-Pizza Hut ESPN commercials? Dear God.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ten things
1. LeBron James' first buzzer-beating shot tonight at Golden State? He's just ridiculous. This is the year.

2. Why haven't the Browns hired a GM yet?

3. Jon Gruden. Herm Edwards. Both were not unemployed when owner Randy Lerner pulled the trigger on Eric Mangini. Both would have been better choices, in my estimation.

4. Barack Obama is president. I won't get on him too much for a while. He needs time to formulate his ideas. Jumping on every one less than a week in strikes me as counterproductive.

5. I hope the Indians at least call Manny Ramirez.

6. Haven't seen The Wrestler yet, but I want to.

7. I never got Joni Mitchell music.

8. John Anderson's Semonole Wind is still one of my favorite songs.

9. Why do people always forget the first 150 years of this nation when discussing the worst president ever?

10. Favorite TV show right now? Chuck.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vizquel keeps on going
One of the best shortstops in Indians history has decided to keep going, even though he's north of 40 and hit .222 last season.

Omar Vizquel's best days are no doubt behind him. But he apparently still enjoys going out and playing the game the way only he can. But the Rangers certainly seem like an odd fit. Then again, the Giants did too.

But the Rangers more so. Do they even allow ground balls in Arlington?

Some players were born for teams. Pete Rose was a Red, so was Johnny Bench. Mike Schmidt belongs to Philadelphia and Rickey Henderson, despite his seemingly endless travels, always looked right with the A's.

Omar was meant for the Indians. Jhonny Peralta has more power and is a decent hitter, but he's just not on Vizquel's level. It's like watching a singer trying to follow a Frank Sinatra performance.

Did I want the Indians to sign Vizquel? No. But I hope that no matter how he finishes his career, he never does anything to make people forget when he was at his best, when he made the ridiculous look routine, and when he was so good even the big cities knew who he was.

If Omar wants to keep going, then great. But seeing him in a Rangers uniform will be weird, to say the least.


Monday, January 19, 2009

The end of the Bush years
There is no way to say now whether George W. Bush was a good president, bad president.

I am confident that some historians will conclude that his presidency was neither disaster nor complete triumph. And, as I have in the previous eight years, I'm sure I will defend Bush against the most ridiculous of criticisms.

Bush neither destroyed our civil rights (as the revered FDR and Abraham Lincoln came the closest to) or brought our country great shame (I'm sure a lot of you will disagree; I don't care). He wasn't impeached, like the last guy in office. He didn't neglect humanity (I'd love one of these bashing columns to use the word "Africa" just once).

Some are sure he lied about the Iraq War. Some think he loves torture. Some think he is racist.

Most of all, people think he's dumb.

He's not. Two-term presidents generally know something. Conan O'Brien and Dave Letterman can crack all the jokes they want. Bush isn't the one who seems to think it'll be 80 degrees in January next year in the north (step outside, Letterman). He also isn't so desperate for material that the only other people he makes jokes about are B-list celebrities (wow Conan, making fun of Paris Hilton again. EDGY.).

Of all the criticisms about Bush, there is one in particular that is true -- he's not popular.

One of the things I have liked about Bush since his first day in office is how little stock he has put in popularity.

I hope President Obama shares that trait. I think a president must be concerned with the job, not renting out the Lincoln bedroom to donors.

In these times, I can say Bush was not a great president. He was too slow to act when Iraq was deteriorating, and too passive during Hurricane Katrina. Those are the two black marks on his legacy, and they will remain.

But I'm not sorry I voted for him twice. Christopher Hitchens writes on that topic.

As for President Obama, I will hope and pray he does a good job. Now's not the time to be petty. He's in office, and he needs support.

MSNBC and CNN and the AP will sure do their parts. I'll do my best to do mine.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

An idea for the Indians ...
Ken Griffey Jr. is still available, and according to some, could be had for between 3and $4 million a season.

Yes, Griffey is 39. Yes, he is injured.

But he still hit 18 homers last season and is saying he is healthy.

The Indians need insurance when (or, to some, if) Travis Hafner can't reach his healthy potential this season. I also would be nice to have a power threat in left field, and alternate Ben Francisco and Shin Soo Choo in right.

It makes sense to me, but it probably doesn't to the Indians, who fear the idea of bringing in anyone who could possibly be perceived as moody.

I don't believe that about Griffey, but others certainly do. But would it kill the Indians to bring in someone who has a little attitude, and a burning desire for a ring?

It wouldn't, but Eric Wedge might disagree.


Monday, January 12, 2009

My Top 10 Albums (As of this moment)
1. The Beatles -- Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Favorite Song: A Day in the Life
Favorite Line: "I read the news today ... oh, boy"

2. Bob Dylan -- Blood on the Tracks
Favorite Song: Tangled Up in Blue
Favorite Line: "There was music in the cafes at night and revolution in the air."

3. Imagine -- John Lennon
Favorite Song: Oh My Love
Favorite Line: "Oh my love, for the first time in my life, my eyes are wide open"

4. Moondance -- Van Morrison
Favorite Song: Caravan
Favorite Line: "Turn up the radio, let me hear the song."

5. The Band -- The Band
Favorite Song: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Favorite line: "Back with my wife in Tennessee, when one day she called to me, 'Virgil, quick come see, there goes Robert E. Lee.' Now I don't mind choppin' wood, and I don't care if the money's no good. You take what you need and you leave the rest, but they should never have taken the very best."

6. Randy Newman -- Sail Away
Favorite Song: Sail Away
Favorite line: "Sail away, sail away, we will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay"

7. Abbey Road -- The Beatles
Favorite Song: Something
Favorite Line: "You're asking me will my love grow. I don't know. I don't know."

8. David Bowie -- Hunky Dory
Favorite Song: Oh! You Pretty Things
Favorite Line: "Oh you pretty things. Don't you know you're drivin' your mamas and papas insane."

9. John Denver -- Rocky Mountain High
Favorite Song: Prisoners
Favorite Line: "Sometimes it's the TV. She'll try to write a letter, oh, they don't come too often anymore."

10.Flying Burrito Brothers -- The Gilded Palace of Sin
Favorite Song: The Dark End of the Street
Favorite Line: "I know that time's gonna take its toll. We'll have to pay for the love that we stole."


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Steelers or Ravens? It's oh so easy
Ten years ago, I probably would have sided with the Steelers in a game of this magnitude.

Times have changed.

Art Modell (and his son) are out of power. So is the arrogant Brian Billick, condemned to the fired coaches retirement home (otherwise known as the NFL Network). I don't hate new coach John Harbaugh. I don't yet hate quarterback Joe Flacco.

In fact, of the 53 guys on the Ravens roster, the only one I don't care for is Ray Lewis. Just seeing a purple and black uniform doesn't make me cringe anymore.

A yellow and black one does.

The Steelers have beaten the Browns 11 consecutive times. At the end of most of those games, Pittsburgh players could be seen on the sidelines yucking it up and grinning.

Ben Rothlisberger comes across as super-arrogant. Hines Ward is a great receiver, and acts like he knows it.

But it really boils down to this. The Steelers are Cleveland's closest rival, and they are a much better team than the Browns.

It took me a few years to understand why my father hated Pittsburgh so much. Now, I understand. Like the 70s, the Browns are mediocre at best and the Steelers are always at the top of the league.

It's like watching your chief rival in social studies class always taking the cheerleader to the prom.

I hate the Steelers. I just don't hate the Ravens. I have rarely cheered for them, but in next Sunday's AFC championship game, I'm willing to make an exception.

For one day, I'll be hoping the Ravens win. And I think they will.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Cavaliers wear 1980s Nuggets uniforms, still beat the Celtics
Seriously, what the hell are those uniforms?

Announcers keep referring to them as "throwbacks" which I find odd because the Cavaliers have never, ever worn blue and gold. I think what they are going for is a blend of the 1970s with the late 1980s. But it looks like they borrowed from the Dave Valle uniform booklet.

It's a shame the uniforms are so bad, because the team is outstanding. ESPN analysts are still clinging to the "Kobe Bryant is better than LeBron because he won a ring five years ago" argument, but LeBron is taking his team, the fans, and the community to new heights.

The team around him is better, but LeBron James is better to, taking the game over early, and then taking it over late and making the Celtics look old in the process.

It was one game. But for one night, the Cavs proved they are the best in the NBA right now.


Five things I don't like about the Eric Mangini hire
1. The Browns hired the coach first. True, the Cavs did it and made it work. But that's a totally different situation (the Browns don't have LeBron). The timing of the hires, even if they bring in a Mangini ally to be the GM (and the Browns will) gives Mangini the power. It didn't work for Butch Davis and countless others. Why would it work now?

2. Randy Lerner is still looking for the next Bill Belichick. He tried to find him before, with Romeo Crennel. It seems Lerner has organization envy. Admittedly, if you're going to copy one, that's the one to copy. But I think Lerner's fascination with the Browns' old coach goes further.

The Browns were 11-5 in 1994. Many believe the Browns 1995 season was derailed by the move (I don't believe that, but some do). Lerner was a fan back then, and might believe that had the Browns organization then stayed in place, the team could have had the run of success the Patriots had six years later. It just seems that instead of creating success, Lerner wants to copy by getting a new Belichick. That sort of thinking usually doesn't work.

3. Mangini was a head coach as of two weeks ago. For all the talk about learning from his mistakes, he hasn't really had the usual "cooling off" period coaches get between jobs. Belichick was an assistant for four years after being fired from the Browns. There's no break, no contemplation time, no re-learning the system. Mangini in many ways was never without a job, since Lerner fell for his pitch a mere hours after he was let go.

4. The Browns still don't have a general manager. Perhaps rehashing of reason No. 1, but I still think it's pretty important.

5. Randy Lerner made the decision. Simple enough.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Five things I like about Eric Mangini
The new Browns coach has several positives. Here are the five that impress me the most:

1. He has NFL head coaching experience. This is an obvious one. The only coach the Browns have hired in my lifetime that fit the above description is Terry Robiskie, and he was just an interim coach (and his previous experience was interim). Mangini will know what being a head coach means in this league when he steps on the field for his first exhibition game. That will be a huge plus going into next season.

2. Mangini is still very, very young. At 37, Mangini has to know this may not be his last stop as an NFL head coach, If he coaches the Browns for 20 years, he'll still be about the same age Romeo Crennel was when he was hired by the team. It's an interesting dynamic of some experience and the youthful hunger.

3. Mangini has a lot to prove. Getting run out of New York after a winning season probably isn't what Mangini had in mind when he took the Jets job three years ago. He probably feels like he is the scapegoat for the Jets collapse, and probably only because Brett Favre might not be around to take the hit. With the Jets being a franchise that is hit and miss, Mangini probably sees a chance to build a strong organization, then look back and laugh as the Jets hire and fire again.

4. Mangini has ties to the Browns. He started what turned into a coaching career in Cleveland. He gets the city, gets the passion, and should understand why it's so important to the community that he succeeds.

5. Mangini is not Brian Billick. That shouldn't need much explanation.

Tomorrow: 5 reasons I don't like the hiring.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ohio State thoughts
In Cleveland, you get a fill of moral victories.

Ohio State doesn't have a Cleveland curse. What it did have was back-to-back years of getting whipped in title games. Add that to a miserable showing by the Big Yen in bowl games this year, and Ohio State was playing for respect as much as anything else.

Late in the third quarter, it appeared another drubbing was in the offing. But the Buckeyes battled back. Todd Boeckman and Terrell Pryor combined to lead a 15-point comeback.

But the end was the same -- a loss.

Texas deserved to win. Colt McCoy shredded OSU's defense for most of the game, and when the Buckeyes needed a big stop in the final seconds, they couldn't get it.

OSU got some short term praise for almost winning, but no one will remember that in two weeks. The score is all that remains.

Jim Tressel is a great football coach, but what he has isn't enough to win another national title. Since that seems to be the goal of most Buckeye fans, it seems reasonable to say that any year without a No. 1 standing is a disappointment.

Tressel needs to make a few changes, either in recruiting or in his staff, to reach the final level.

We'll see what happens.


Monday, January 05, 2009

The Indians grinder system
When the Indians allowed Casey Blake to sign with Los Angeles last month, it appeared they were heading in a different direction.

With Blake out, it seemed the Indians had finally decided to move the human statue, Jhonny Peralta, to third base, and allow Asdrubal Cabrera to play his natural position of shortstop.

Maybe the Indians would hand Josh Barfield a glove and say, "You're our second baseman, play like it."

I'm not saying this would work, but it would it would improve the defense and allow the Indians some wiggle-room should they be contending in July.

Then, just before the new year, the Indians went back to the Grinder plan.

They traded three minor leaguers to the Cubs for Mark DeRosa, a decent player who is coming off a career year.

The deal makes DeRosa the team's regular third baseman, despite the fact he played only 10 games there last year.

It also means Peralta will continue to turn routine plays into better than good ones, better than good ones into errors, and errors into base hits at short.

DeRosa is very much like Blake. He can play anywhere, hits for a decent average and has some power. But he's also 34 next month and coming off a year that was stronger than every other one in his career.

DeRosa hit 21 homers and drove in 87 runs for the Cubs last season. Before that, he had never hit more than 13 homers in a year, never driven in more than 74 runs. Before 2006, DeRosa was barely more than a bench player.

And, this is the last year of his contract.

As an Indians fan, I'm willing to say I have seen enough of Peralta at short. If the Indians want to use DeRosa in the outfield or somewhere other than third, fine.

But Peralta has been the shortstop since 2005, and has played it below average.

It's time for a new plan. Everyone the Indians come up with seems to involve a "grinder" in his mid-30s.


Browns coaching search
So the following has happened with our beloved Cleveland Browns in the last eight days.

- They fired their general manager.
- They fired their head coach.
- They were rebuffed by Bill Cowher, owner Randy Lerner's personal Vince Lombardi.
- They were put on hold by fired Broncos coach Mike Shannahan.
- They interviewed fired-Jets coach Eric Mangini.
- They fell in love with fired-Jets coach Eric Mangini.
- They seem ready to hire another first-time GM, again from the Baltimore Ravens.

It's a lot to take in. What troubles me most is not who the coach or GM will be, but who's guiding the ship.

Randy Lerner is not a football guy. He's a rich man who owns a successful soccer team and lives in New Jersey.

Since 2002, when his father, Al Lerner, died, Randy has done some odd things. He gave Butch Davis full control and a contract extension, then a year later changed direction, and gave Davis a ton of money to go away.

He hired a general manager, then less than a year later wanted to fire him. He hired a coach, then two years later came close to firing him. After one good season, he gave his coach and GM extensions. A year later, after a horrible year, he fired them.

Boy, doesn't this look like an appealing work environment?

Personally, I'd like the Browns to bring in someone who has held the general manager position -- in the NFL -- before. I want that man to make the football decisions, including the hiring of a head coach.

The Browns need to build an organization of competence, so they aren't always doing this "search."

The problem isn't who is hired or when they are hired. The problem comes from within. When a franchise goes through four coaches in 10 years, and the team is bad for eight of those years, one comes to the conclusion that the issue isn't the coaching. It's the chaos.

Who's responsible for that?

I think it's obvious.