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Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

Indians quickly learning that it is no longer 2013

tribe lost in chicagoThe Cleveland Indians won 92 games and captured the second Wild Card slot in the American League in 2013 thanks in large part to two incredible, but ultimately unsustainable stats: their record against Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox (a combined 30-8) to go along with 11 walk-off wins.

Through the first two weekends of this season, it has become evident that it is no longer 2013.

The Tribe had a disappointing weekend in Chicago, dropping three-of-four to the White Sox. Add that to last weekend’s series against the Twins, when the Indians lost two-of-three, and things have taken a turn for the worse early in the season.

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It’s on the Browns now to make the Alex Mack deal work out

alex mack resignsWell that didn’t take very long.

This morning, Pro Bowl center Alex Mack signed an offer sheet with the Jacksonville Jaguars. By this afternoon, the Browns matched the deal, meaning Mack will be in Cleveland for at least two more years.

The deal guarantees Mack $18 million over the first two years of the deal ($10 million this fall, $8 million in 2015, with $8 million per year in the final three years of the contract), and includes an option for Mack to walk away after two years if he is not happy.

“I’m excited for both Alex and the Browns,” Farmer said in a team statement. “We have talked about keeping our own players and this is a positive for us. Alex is a quality person and player that truly brings to life what playing like a Brown means.”

So the Browns now have two years to make sure that does not happen. But before we get to that, we wanted to go over a few items we’ve seen talked about in the past few days concerning Mack, his position and free agency in general.

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Are the Browns going to lose their Alex Mack gamble?

alex mack offer sheetEver since early in the 2013 NFL season when the news came out that Alex Mack was not going to negotiate a new contract with the Cleveland Browns until after the season, we’ve been on the side of not worrying about anything until their is something to worry about.

Well, we may now have something to worry about.

The news came out today that Jacksonville will sign Mack to an offer sheet on Friday, one that will be for five years and is reportedly “designed to make it as difficult as possible for the Browns to match” the offer.

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Former Browns quarterbacks prove to be a resilient bunch

will browns winWith the NFL now just a month away, the talk is heating up about who the Cleveland Browns will select – especially in the first round.

Many expect the Browns to select from the group of top-ranked quarterbacks that includes (in no particular order), Blake BortlesDerek CarrTeddy BridgewaterJimmy GarropoloTom SavageKeith Wenning and Johnny Manziel.

If the Browns get it right, they shouldn’t have to worry about drafting another quarterback for at least a decade. (Imagine a world where we don’t have to talk about Browns quarterbacks every year.)

And if they get it wrong? Well, the secondary market for Browns quarterbacks in the NFL has turned into an especially fruitful one.

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From the editor’s notebook …

tribe carrasco twinsIt was a rough start to the home portion of the 2014 schedule for the Cleveland Indians.

In dropping two-of-three to the Minnesota Twins who are not … very good … the Tribe was done in by its starting pitching and lack of clutch hitting.

Danny Salazar had the best start of the weekend, even through the struggled through 5.2 innings of work in Friday’s home opener. While he gave up seven hits, Salazar managed to find a way to hold the Twins to just two runs and give the offense time to rally.

Carlos Carrasco had his own issues on Saturday, but unlike Salazar, Carrasco doesn’t have the makeup to work himself out of problems. Carrasco followed Salazar’s lead by working just 5.2 innings and giving up seven hits, but he couldn’t keep the Twins off the scoreboard in giving up five runs (four earned).

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Five and fly: Indians take opening series from A’s

tribe opening series oaklandThe Cleveland Indians did an effective job in taking two-of-three from Oakland to open the 2014 Major League Baseball season.

While the Tribe left in late in both wins – scoring twice in the ninth in the first game and three times in the ninth in the third game – they got things done when they needed to.

Here are five quick takeaways from the series:

The starting pitching was iffy …

Justin Masterson looked primed for a big contract year in the season opener, holding the A’s to just three hits and no runs over seven innings. If he keeps pitching like that, the Tribe will be happy, even though each successful start brings Masterson closer to the type of big-money contract the Indians have no way of matching.

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Liverpool may just be able to pull off the title quest

liverpool title hopesThings could not have gone better last week for Liverpool, who now sit alone atop the Premier League table for the first time since Christmas Day.

After a week that saw the Reds take nine points from three matches, while Chelsea lost to Crystal Palace and Manchester City drew with Arsenal, the league title is waiting to come home to Anfield for the first time in 24 years.

All Liverpool has to do is reach out and take it  - which is easier said than done.

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Time for Indian summer to return to Cleveland

Terry Francona, Jason GiambiThe Cleveland Indians open the 2014 season tonight in Oakland as Justin Masterson takes the mound for what could be his final Opening Day start in a Tribe uniform.

The Tribe surprised last year by winning 92 games and capturing the second Wild Card spot in the American League. It was the team’s first winning season and first playoff appearance since 2007. The Indians will be looking this season to post consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2000-01 and make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 1998-99.

It won’t be easy, though. (Of course, this is Cleveland, so when is anything easy?) The Detroit Tigers are still the team to beat in the American League’s Central Division even though they traded Prince Fielder and Doug Fister. The Tigers can still hit, though, with Miguel Cabrera (.343 with 17 home runs and 55 RBI against the Indians over the past three seasons) and Victor Martinez (.380 vs. the Tribe over the past three years), and pitch, with Justin Verlander (7-3 with a 2.96 ERA against the Tribe in the same time frame), Anibal Sanchez (2.20 ERA in the past three years vs. Cleveland) and Max Scherzer (7-1 vs. the Tribe), so the Indians are not catching any breaks there.

The Kansas City Royals are also a trendy pick after posting their first winning season in a decade; they have also been stockpiling young talent that may be ready to pay off. And even though the Indians finished six games better than the Royals in the standings, they were only 10-9 against Kansas City last year.

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5 Questions: Cleveland Indians ready to open 2014 season

tribe giambi homerThe Cleveland Indians open the 2014 season Monday night in Oakland.

The Tribe is coming off a season that saw the team win 92 games and earn the second Wild Card slot in the American League. They did it by winning 20 of their final 25 games (including 10 consecutive to close out the season) as pretty much everything that manager Terry Francona did in his first season in town worked.

The Indians enter 2014 looking to close the gap with Detroit in the A.L. Central Division, post consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the start of the millennium and go to the playoffs for the first time in consecutive years since the 1990s.

To get ready for the season, we brought together some of the best baseball minds on the Internet to talk about what is in store for the Tribe this year for an installment of 5 Questions in 5 Minutes.

Today’s participants are:

Nino Colla from The Tribe Daily. He can be found on Twitter @TheTribeDaily.

Mike Brandyberry from Did the Tribe Win Last Night? Follow him on Twitter @DidTribeWin.

Adam Burke, formerly of The Cleveland Fan, and a contributing writer at bangthebook.com. Find him on Twitter @SkatingTripods.

Andrew Clayman, founder of East of Ehlo. He is on Twitter @EastofEhlo.

Ash Day from Let’s Go Tribe. He is on Twitter @AshDay29. (He’s also an Arsenal fan, but he’s still OK, so be nice.)

Al Ciammaichella from The DiaTribe. Find him on Twitter @Gotribe31.

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Four the hard way

anniversary 4Today marks the four-year anniversary of the launch of our site.

As a lifelong Cleveland fan, we knew what we were getting into when we decided to get the voices out of our head and put them down on (virtual) paper. But even by the standards of Cleveland sports, it’s been an interesting four years.

Consider that since we made our maiden post:

  • The Browns have gone 18-46 (a .281 winning percentage), are on their fourth head coach and fourth front office combination, and have had seven different starting quarterbacks.
  • The Cavs are 90-210 and counting (a .300 winning percentage), have had three coaches (counting Mike Brown twice) and just as many general managers, had an NBA record 26-game losing streak, and have yet to post a winning record despite drafting four players in the top four of the NBA Draft – two of which were the No. 1 overall pick.
  • The Indians have gone 309-339 while employing two different managers. The Tribe is the only team of the three to have a winning season and a playoff appearance – which they promptly lost.

More than just wins and losses, though, is the fact that writing has made us enjoy sports even more. Having an outlet to vent after the never-ending losses and personnel moves has helped us learn to not carry around another dismal performance by the local sports teams. We’ve also tried to develop a different perspective on what – and most importantly why – the Browns, Indians and Cavs are doing what they are doing.

A big part of how we have been able to do that is through the people we have met – either in person or in the online world – since we started the site (if the analytics are to be believed, we’ve had visitors from 154 different countries). We’ve been fortunate enough to meet some cool people (you know who you are) and our interactions with everyone has opened up our thinking and helped redefine, in a good way, how we look at sports.

And for that we say “thanks!”

So what’s next?

The Indians open up the season next week and will try and build on last season’s 92-win team that finished the season strong and made the playoffs. The Cavs are heading into the “most important off-season” since, well, the last one. And the Browns have (yet another) new coach and (yet another) new front office and the annual hope of the NFL Draft.

In other words, just another year in the life of a Cleveland sports fan.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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