Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sen. Max Baucus' argument
Some are suggesting the senator is drunk in this video. I don't know. But he was certainly ranting and making the argument about the need for bipartisanship. That Republicans got scared and saw a chance to gain by opposing health care.

This is a rather ridiculous argument, because it makes the mistake of thinking that "reform" is about something more than itself. President Obama and his friends in congress wanted a public option. Republicans would not support a public option.

As a libertarian on spending, not only was I against the various healthcare proposals, but I wouldn't have voted for any congressman who supported any of them.

But Democrats have the edge in congress right now, so they could pass something liberal. Those on the left of the party wouldn't have tolerated less.

So it's the Republicans fault? Believe me, I have not been happy with Republicans for a while, and see myself as more of a libertarian now than anything else. But anyone who ran as a Republican couldn't support the health care plan and still be a Republican.

The Republican party is supposed to be one of small government. The members of congress who voted against the bill did the right thing, in my view.

Was Baucus drunk? I don't know.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Top 10 Browns players of the decade (the candidates)
Everyone can leave their suggestions (or votes) in the comment section or through email. I will start doing bios and commentaries next week on the winners.

From this list, I'll pick 10, based on what everyone thinks.

The Candidates
Tim Couch, Josh Cribbs, Kellen Winslow, Braylon Edwards, Phil Dawson, Joe Thomas, Dennis Northcutt, Kevin Johnson, Ryan Tucker, Jamir Miller, Lawrence Vickers, Jamal Lewis, Andra Davis, Kamerion Wimbley, Ryan Pontbriand, Leigh Bodden, Sean Jones, Shaun Rogers,Eric Steinbach, Derek Anderson.

Is their anyone I'm forgetting (bracing for sarcastic picks like ... well, everyone not listed above)?

Actually, in most NFL organizations, some of these picks WOULD be sarcastic.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Interview with college football expert Joel Hammond

1. Did Brian Kelly make the right decision leaving Cincinnati?

No doubt about it. All those who claim “you can’t win in college football today with those academic standards” miss Weis’ brilliant recruiting in his tenure: You don’t get Jimmy Clausen, Golden Tate, Michael Floyd and the linebacker from Hawaii by accident.

Weis’ problem came in bravado, an inattention to defense and, plain and simply, poor coaching.

I didn’t see Kelly’s introductory news conference, but I’ve read snippets and reaction from fans. It instantly re-energized that program; hell, I wanted to drive over to South Bend and suit up. He’s already established in Ohio, and clearly recruited well to Cincinnati, a basketball school. What’s to stop him from continuing recruiting well at Notre Dame, with the mystique in place?
Kelly will be the man to turn that program around.

2. A MAC guy, Turner Gill, is taking over at Kansas. Do you think the MAC will always be a minor league training ground for big-time programs?

Undoubtedly. Like it or not, small schools, like Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and Central Michigan, to name a few, are unable to generate the amount of revenue necessary these days to compete in college football. I mention those three specifically because they’ve been the most successful MAC schools, and they’re still at the bottom of the food chain, paying their coaches some of the lowest salaries in the FBS. Without significantly more revenue, how can they compete?

If Turner Gill likes Buffalo (it’s really, really snowy there, so why he would I don’t know), he’d likely stay there if he was offered a job with a $10,000 raise. While I haven’t seen what Kansas is paying him, you can bet it’s a significant raise over what he was making at UB, and who could turn that down? Add in the egos that all these guys have — not always a bad thing, mind you — and you have a perfect storm: a better chance to make a national name for yourself and more money with which to do it. Who wouldn’t make the move?

That’s why I was confused by Urban Meyer’s move to Utah, at the time at least. I didn’t see the step up in that move, but he apparently saw something there — and give him credit, because he was right — that was going to offer him a better opportunity to establish himself than he did at Bowling Green. You’re not going to see BG or NIU or CMU coaches make lateral moves, but there always will be bigger schools with more cash looking for the next big thing.

3. Does Cincinnati have a shot at Florida?

There’s too much working against the Bearcats, I fear. Meyer has too much pride (and too big an ego) to become the next Oklahoma or Alabama, BCS schools disappointed to be in the bowl in which they played and subsequently lost to a lesser opponent. Add in Kelly leaving UC — though, admittedly, there is potential of a “see what you’re missing?!” performance from the Bearcats — and Tim Tebow’s last game, and I suspect this one won’t be close.

4. Who do you like in the title game?
I’m not breaking any news here, but this one could be a laugher. Texas has played exceedingly poorly lately, and given Alabama’s performance in big games against top opponents, I can’t imagine a scenario where the Crimson Tide loses. The wild card is the Colt McCoy/Jordan Shipley offensive combination: What happens if the Longhorns can jump ahead early? I don’t think Nick Saban wants to have to put the ball in Greg McElroy’s hands, though McElroy has played better as the season has gone on. But Saban most likely wants to ride Heisman winner Mark Ingram to the title, and he may have to abandon that if McCoy/Shipley catch fire early.

5. Of all the Heisman candidates, who has the best shot in the NFL?

Ndamukong (I had to look it up) Suh likely will go in the top three, so it’s him, but given the increased focus on running back depth in the NFL — the Redskins are on starter No. 5, who ruined one of my fantasy football playoff games this weekend — Toby Gerhart and Ingram could have a future. The questions, though: Is Gerhart even interested? He’s a good baseball player, smart as heck and might simply bypass the NFL to not risk injury. Has Ingram peaked too early? Just a sophomore, there’s a natural fear about too much tread on those tires.
Tebow will have a cup of coffee, and McCoy has a chance, but his stock is dropping and could even further if he plays poorly in the title game.
So it’s Suh, because he’s good but also be default.


Andy Barch NFL Interview
He used to be of the West Virginia Power, now he's of Notre Dame College. Congratulations on the new job, AB.

1. As of right now, the top pick in next year's draft likely is to be ...
Ndamukong Suh out of Nebraska. If you havent seen this guy play, then do yourself a favor and check him out in Nebraska's bowl game against Arizona on December 30th. He's different than a lot of other defensive linemen that have gotten all the hype and been selected in the top five, and become busts. His versatility is what makes him so special. Not only is he big, and quick, but he can drop back in a zone blitz package and bat passes down 5-10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. He's got an endless motor, he's constantly in pursuit to the ball, and ontop of all that, he's EXTREMELY smart. He's got the instincts you just cant teach. He can be great as a tackle in a 4-3, and he'd be a great end in a 3-4 defense. Personally, I dont see how any team drafting first overall could overlook him. I think it's a no brainer.

2. Between the Saints and Colts, who is more likely to go undefeated?
Indy has Jacksonville, the Jets, and the Bills left on their slate while the Saints entertain the Cowboys, Bucs and Carolina. Indy's road is a little bit tougher, but for both teams, this isnt exactly a tough stretch. However, the Saints are hosting the Cowboys this coming week, and we all know just how great the Cowboys are in December. Jacksonville always seems to give Indy a tough game, and the Jaguars are fighting for their playoff lives right now. I think the Jags are going to give Indy an extremely tough test this Thursday, and the Jets aren't out of the playoff picture either. I'll go with the Saints for the time being. It also appears as though the Saints want that undefeated accomplishment more, as they've discussed it a little and talked about how they do not want to rest any of their starters in the coming weeks.

3. Am I crazy, or are the Chargers maybe better than the Colts right now?
I dont see that right now. I think the Chargers are very good, but they're not as good as the Colts. The Colts have been stout on defense, even with out the remarkable Bob Sanders. Offensively, I'll take Manning over Rivers any day of the week. Dallas Clark has a slight edge on Antonio Gates, and I think Indy's receivers are a little better than San Diego's. Defensively, their numbers are pretty close across the board. However, Indy is 13-0, and they've won both blowouts, and close games. Both teams are battle tested, and I'd have a hard time picking anyone over these two to compete in the AFC Championship, even though that game is over a month away.

4. Mangini: Do you expect him to be back? Should he?
I expect Eric Mangini to be back. I think he'll have an extremely short leash once Randy Lerner hires a GM, who obviously will want his guy, or guys in place, however, you cant expect a guy to come in and change things in one year. Especially not in Cleveland where nothing ever seems to go right in the football world. This team caught lightning in a bottle in 2007, and that year, they played a lot better than they actually were. Call it a mirage, or whatever you'd like, but they played over their heads that season. What I'm getting at is that the cupboard wasn't bare, but it was close when Mangini took over. He has a lot of draft picks to play with in 2010, and I think we need to see what he does with those picks. Personally, I like Mangini as a head coach, but not as a personnel guy. They need to find an identity for that offense though. Whenever they have the ball its tough for me to watch. I'd rather watch paint dry or watch poker on TV....they're essentially the same thing.

5. What can Tim Tebow do in the NFL?
He can be a good special teams player and he can be a big part of somebody's wildcat formation. Other than that, I dont see him doing a whole lot. I dont want to bash the guy, he's one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time, and like him or hate him, you have to admit, he was a lot of fun to watch. I think he can be the holder for field goals (which always presents that element of surprise) and the up-back in a punt formation (see my last statement). He's a guy that plays with a lot of emotion, and he's a gifted athlete. However, I think he's strictly a situational player at the next level, not an every down threat.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

A short Christmas story
No one knew what it was like to be Santa Claus.

That's what the man himself thought when he read the headlines about how his operation -- the one he'd been running successfully for centuries, was under investigation by the United States' new president's administration.

The President had promised --during his campaign -- to investigate Santa Claus. Why had the man never paid taxes to any country he'd visited? Why was he -- and only he-- allowed to sneak around people's houses late at night.

And finally, why had rich kids been getting better toys than poor ones for the last hundreds of years?

The man, who had been alive forever and never really aged past 60, shook his head at the stories he was reading. He knew the answers to these questions, and he also knew answers to questions people refused to ask.

It wasn't enough that he could visit every home in one night, or that he could make reindeer fly, or that he had managed to live in the North Pole all these years (the cold air made the take offs and landings on Christmas Eve a real hastle).

The truth was so simple. Rich kids got better presents because Santa was bribed by their parents. If the poor kids didn't like it, well, then they could freeze 12 months a year and live with hundreds of malcontent midgets that the press had lovingly labeled "elves."

Elves were part of the deal. Santa had rescued them centuries ago and given them a place to stay, even given them the gift of immortality. True, they were paid less than union scale, and also were thrown out if talk of forming unions got back to the boss.

But so what? This is how the game is played. Santa Claus had cornered the market on supernatural holiday gift-givers in recent years.

The Easter Bunny was in hiding. The Tooth Fairy was finished after pictures of her with a prominent golfer surfaced.

Santa had elves, but he also had helpers. The Santa Clauses at your local mall don't just take orders from children, they take orders from The Man. These men made sure that the Easter Bunny never eclipsed Santa's popularity, by pressuring malls to stop allowing giant bunnys to greet kids. That's for Santa.

Yes, Santa thought as he looked into the daily paper, he was not perfect. But what about the concessions he made? He gave up his pipe after the anti-smoking groups complained. He even promised to start working out so as not to convey to kids that obesity was OK.

Some gratitude, the old man thought.

Now here's the President, asking me to "spread the wealth around"? He's Santa Claus, not Alan Greenspan.

In truth, the man was thinking of scaling back. Government intervention was no way to make his job easier. Maybe he could outsource the elves. Maybe he could hire a lawyer to help cut a deal with the government where at least he'd be home for the holiday.


"It's no use," Santa said to himself. "Maybe I need to reform."

He could stop taking bribes. He could allow the elves to unionize. He could even let the reindeer hire a backup crew to ease their pressures.

Santa got optimistic.

"Maybe I can finally live up to Miracle on 34th Street," he told his wife, who mentally dismissed it as something she'd heard before.

Mrs. Claus knew her man wasn't a saint, despite his name. But people needed her man. She had helped keep the business afloat during the 1970s, when Santa was out of favor with the general public. She'd made deals with TV stations to keep playing the movies about him, to keep him visible in the public eye.

She'd had to do this, because Santa was always busy with the elves, who were always talking about forming a competitive group to run against Santa.

Mrs. Claus knew that was a pipe dream. The elves frightened people, and they had no connections. For now, Santa was the only game in town come Christmas.

But Santa got so excited he headed for the door. He would change. He would re-invent himself. He would ...

He opened his garage and saw his sleigh had been vandalized.

"Stay home, fat boy!" it said in big black letters.

"The world doesn't deserve a better Santa Claus!" he concluded, shut the door and went about his day.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Browns beat the Steelers
Can one game save a coach?

Before Thursday, I would have said no. But then, I forgot how much I hate the Steelers.

Brady Quinn looks more like a ski instructor that an NFL quarterback. He was AWFUL. But at least he didn't throw an interception.

I'm still not entirely certain who some of the Browns were who recorded sacks Thursday. We had a Corey Williams sighting. Marcus Benard (who?) was borderline dominant. And Josh Cribbs is simply the best player of the new era, and frankly becoming one of the best players in frachise history.

The Browns could very well have spent their might. They may not win again until next season.

But the Browns did something this season that seemed crazy even before this ridiculous train ride. They beat the rival.

Mangini? I wanted him gone. Maybe it's the "beat the Steelers!" buzz talking, but now I'm not entirely against him staying on.

This feels really good.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

30 things being a Browns fan has taught me
1. Just because your team has a lead and there is no time left on the fourth quarter clock, you still may lose.

2. Loyalty means little, but it means enough to keep it.

3. Brown and orange are beautiful together.

4. Bernie Kosar was meant for Cleveland Stadium.

5. Don't be fooled: John Elway is a villan.

6. Cheering for the Steelers in Cleveland is kind of like being a communist in the 1950s.

7. Cleveland is a football town, and things have to be beyond hopeless for fans to stop coming.

8. The 2009 Browns are beyond hopeless.

9. Just because someone can talk a good game doesn't mean the game they know about is football.

10. At the end of the day, you appreciate being on the doorstep of greatness after you've been kicked to the curb of mediocrity and forced to stay there for 20 years.

11. Being a Browns fan isn't a tragedy. But being a Browns fan can teach you about tragedy. Don Rogers, Eric Turner, Eddie Johnson and Lyle Alzado are reminders of real tragedy.

12. It's wrong to hate an owner for moving a football team.

13. It's wrong not to forgive an owner for moving a football team.

14. It's wrong to forget that a greedy owner moved your football team.

15. Even mentioning the name "Mike Phipps" makes my father cringe.

16. No matter its classy look and expensive price tag, Cleveland Browns Stadium is a cheap imitation.

17. Writing about the past often is a tool to keep you from writing about the present.

18. Bill Belichick really is a great coach.

19. I only root for him when his team plays Pittsburgh.

20. A Browns win brightens a whole Sunday.

21. A loss can ruin a whole week.

22. Romeo Crennel wasn't a great head coach.

23. But boy does Mangini make him look good.

24. I'd love it if I could get Martin Mull, Drew Carey, Kenny Chesney, Condoleezza Rice and maybe Hank Aaron together to watch a Browns game, and talk (or sing) about nothing but football.

25. Al Lerner was a good man.

26. Randy Lerner probably also is a good man.

27. But I'm starting to think we'd be better off if anyone else had won the team.

28. I will always remember the Browns of my youth: Kosar, Slaughter, Mike Johnson, Matthews, Metcalf, Mack, Byner, Perry, Langhorne -- as the real Browns.

29. Joe Thomas, Josh Cribbs and Phil Dawson are real Browns.

30. I still hope real Browns will emerge out of this mess, but that hope is fading like a Cleveland fall.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Randy Lerner's 12 days of Christmas
Sing along. It's more fun.

On the first day of Christmas Randy Lerner gave to me: an inept coach Mangini.

On the second day of Christmas Randy Lerner gave to me: 2 winning seasons and an inept coach Mangini.

On the third day of Christmas Randy Lerner gave to me: 3 fired directors 2 winning seasons and an inept coach Mangini.

On the fourth day of Christmas Randy Lerner gave to me: 4 fired coaches, 3 fired directors, 2 winning seasons and an inept coach Mangini.

On the fifth day of Christmas Randy Lerner gave to me: 5 talking heads! 4 fired coaches, 3 fired directors, 2 winning seasons and an inept coach Mangini.

On the sixth day of Christmas Randy Lerner gave to me: 6 division losses, 5 talking heads! 4 fired coaches, 3 fired directors, 2 winning seasons and an inept coach Mangini.

On the seventh day of Christmas Randy Lerner gave to me: 7 years of waiting, 6 division losses, 5 talking heads, 4 fired coaches 3 fired directors, 2 winning seasons and an inept coach Mangini.

On the eighth day of Christmas Randy Lerner gave to me: 8 Belichick clones, 7 years of waiting, 6 division losses, 5 talking heads. 4 fired coaches, 3 fired directors, 2 winning seasons and an inept coach Mangini.

On the ninth day of Christmas Randy Lerner gave to me: 9 Ex-Jets,8 Belichick clones, 7 years of waiting, 6 division losses, 5 talking heads! 4 fired coaches 3 fired directors, 2 winning seasons and an inept coach Mangini.

On the 10th day of Christmas Randy Lerner gave to me: 10 clueless players *, 9 ex-Jets, 8 Belichick clones, 7 years of waiting, 6 division losses, 5 talking heads! 4 fired coaches, 3 fired directors, 2 winning seasons and an inept coach Mangini.

On the 11th day of Christmas Randy Lerner gave to me: 11 straight losses to the Steelers, 10 clueless players, 9 ex-Jets, 8 Belichick clones, 7 years of waiting, 6 division losses, 5 talking heads! 4 fired coaches, 3 fired directors, 2 winning seasons and an inept coach Mangini.

On the 12th day of Christmas Randy Lerner gave to me: 12 men on the field, 11 straight losses to the Steelers, 10 clueless players, 9 ex-Jets, 8 Belichick clones, 7 years of waiting, 6 division losses, 5 talking heads!, 4 fired coaches, 3 fired directors, 2 winning seasons and an inept coach Mangini.

That was WAY too easy to write.

* except for Josh Cribbs.

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