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Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Happy Birthday to us!

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the launch of our site.

During the past two years we’ve seen a lot. We haven’t seen a championship, but that doesn’t mean things haven’t been interesting.

If you’ve been with us from the start, thank you.

If you’re new to the site, either because of our partnership with The Cleveland Fan or because of some other reason, welcome. Have a look around and we hope you come back.

We’re not sure what the upcoming year has in store, but it’s Cleveland so there’s no doubt it will be interesting.

Delayed Gratification

The Cleveland Indians cleaned up some roster questions on Tuesday, optioning Lonnie Chisenhall and Matt LaPorta to Columbus.

Neither move should come as any big surprise, although there is the requisite grumbling from some fans about the move to start the season with journeyman Jack Hannahan at third base over Chisenhall.

Chisenhall hit just .205 during spring training, however, with 16 strikeouts and only one walk in 16 games. Chisenhall needed to hit to win the third base job as Hannahan has a major edge when it comes to defense, something the Indians are going to need plenty of if the offense struggles to score runs as expected.

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The Game is Afoot

It’s the NFL off-season, which means rumors, speculation and misdirection are the currency of the land until the draft on April 26.

And the Cleveland Browns are going to be in the thick of things, probably right up until they – or someone – makes a selection with the fourth pick of the first round.

The only thing we (may) know for certain is the Browns will not make an attempt to move up to No. 3, as there are four players after quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III who would fill a major need on the Browns. General manager Tom Heckert told The Plain Dealer that there are five players the Browns would be comfortable selecting with their first pick.

Because of that, the team may be willing to trade down – just not too far.

“We’re most likely going to stay at No. 4 and we know we’ll get a really good player there,” Heckert told the paper. “But there’s about five guys we really like, so we would consider trading down — but probably only to five, six, seven or eight.”

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Talking Chief Wahoo with Uni Watch

We read several sites on a daily basis and one that we find entertaining and informative is Uni Watch.

For those of you not familiar with the site, Uni Watch “Uni Watch “is a media project that deconstructs the finer points of sports uniforms in obsessive and excruciating detail. It has nothing to do with fashion — it’s about documenting and maintaining the visual history of sports design, and about minutiae fetishism as its own reward. If that concept doesn’t make sense to you, no problem — Uni Watch definitely isn’t for everyone, and there have always been people who Don’t Get It. But for those who understand the pleasures of detail obsession, programmatic classification systems, information overload, and sports history, you’ve come to the right place.”

The site was founded by Paul Lukas, a columnist for ESPN.com and a writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Fortune, Gourmet, Saveur, The Wall Street Journal, ESPN The Magazine, Spin and The Financial Times, among many other publications.

So we were particularly interested when weekend editor Phil Hecken recently wrote an article announcing a contest to rebrand the Cleveland Indians, asking readers to come up with ideas for a new team name and logo to replace Chief Wahoo.

Paul also made his feelings known in an article on Friday, What Do You Mean We, Paleface?

We reached out to Paul and Phil and they were gracious enough to sit down for a virtual question and answer session about the contest and Cleveland uniforms in general.

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Are the Browns hunting Cougars?

We all know the Cleveland Browns have several holes to fill on the roster in the upcoming NFL Draft: right tackle, wide receiver, linebacker, running back.

And, of course, quarterback.

While all the quarterback talk has revolved around Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden, there is one name that is rarely mentioned as a possibility to fill the void under center.

We’re talking, of course, about record-setting quarterback Case Keenum, who threw for 19,217 yards, 155 touchdowns and completed 69 percent of his passes in his career as Houston’s quarterback.

Now that we have your attention, and you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, we are in no way advocating that the Browns draft Keenum. System guys like Keenum don’t fit in the NFL, just look at Colt Brennan’s career if you forgot that fact.

But the thing is, Keenum wasn’t out there on offense all by himself. Someone had to be catching all those passes.

And that’s where the Browns come in as they need all the playmakers they can find on offense.

The Cougars have a trio of senior wide receivers that put up big numbers in 2011

  • Patrick Edwards, with 89 receptions for 1,752 yards and 20 touchdowns
  • Tyron Carrier, with 96 receptions for 958 yards and five touchdowns
  • Justin Johnson, with 87 receptions for 1,229 yards and 12 touchdowns

We wouldn’t want the Browns to use a first- or second-round pick on one of these guys, not with Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright potentially available, but Edwards, Carrier and Johnson clearly can catch the ball when it’s thrown to them.

The guy that intrigues us the most is Johnson. At 6-foot-1 and 223 pounds, he has NFL size, comparable to current Browns wide receiver Greg Little and Notre Dame’s Floyd, who are both listed as 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds.

“He can block, run, catch,” Carrier told The Houston Chronicle in an article last September. “Whatever you want him to do, he can do it.”

Johnson was a Conference USA First Team selection this past season after earning the starting slot as one of the Cougars’ inside receivers. He is also versatile, as he saw action at wide receiver, tight end and in the backfield during his college career.

“I knew if I kept working hard, I would get my chance,” Johnson told the paper. “We have playmakers. I was fine if I could block for Bryce (Beall) or Tyron or Patrick. As long as we were winning, I was fine.”

He also lit up Penn State in the Ticket City Bowl, catching 12 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown.

Sounds like someone we wouldn’t mind the Browns at least taking a look at. And it turns out that the Browns had scouts at Houston’s Pro Day on Monday.

The scouts also had a chance to see running back Michael Hayes, who rushed for 727 yards and 11 touchdowns on 138 carries and caught 44 passes for 483 yards last season. According to The Daily Cougar, Hayes is projected to be a late-round pick.

While we’ve all been focused on the Browns first three picks, and rightfully so, the team needs to hit on its later picks as well to continue turning this thing around.

Johnson, and possibly Hayes, are two names to keep in mind once the draft hits the later rounds.

(Photo by Getty Images)

Will the Browns pay for the Saints mistakes?

Like comic book hero Thor, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell brought down the heavy hammer of justice on the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday for the team’s role in rewarding players for intentionally injuring the opposition.

In suspending Saints coach Sean Payton for the entire season, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely, general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games, assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games, fining the team $500,000 and taking away second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013 (that’s a lot of work for one day), Goodell sends the message that this kind of behavior won’t be acceptable on his watch.

“Beyond the clear and continuing violations of league rules, and lying to investigators, the bounty program is squarely contrary to the league’s most important initiatives – enhancing player health and safety and protecting the integrity of the game,” Goodell said in a statement announcing the discipline. “Let me be clear. There is no place in the NFL for deliberately seeking to injure another player, let alone offering a reward for doing so. Any form of bounty is incompatible with our commitment to create a culture of sportsmanship, fairness, and safety. Programs of this kind have no place in our game and we are determined that bounties will no longer be a part of the NFL.”

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Tebowmania is not coming to Cleveland

Before anyone gets any crazy ideas about the Cleveland Browns signing Tim Tebow and recreating the Oklahoma wishbone offense with Montario Hardesty, Josh Cribbs and Tebow, we’re here to tell you that Tebowmania is not coming to Cleveland Browns Stadium.

How do we know this?

Because Monica Culpepper said so.

Who?

Culpepper (pictured above) is a contestant on the current season of Survivor (she was voted out last week) and is married to Brad Culpepper, a former defensive tackle with the Minnesota Vikings and the University of Florida. The Culpeppers are friends with Tebow.

And Monica says Tebow wants to return to the warm climate of Florida.

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Browns dodged a bullet with Flynn

The Cleveland Browns owe the Seattle Seahawks a double thank you for taking the bait on free agent quarterback Matt Flynn and simultaneously showing fans that it pays not to be first in free agency.

When NFL free agency opened a week ago, many speculated that Flynn could get major money in a bidding war; by waiting a week and letting the market settle, the Seahawks were able to sign him to a three-year deal worth up to a reported $26 million.

Seattle’s move helped take away any possibility that the Browns would have lingering doubts about signing a player with two career NFL starts.

And more thing to remember: Flynn may have some success over the next couple of years which will make some Browns fans whine, but he’ll be doing it without having to face the Steelers and Ravens each twice a year.

Read more…

Are Cleveland Fans Losing It?

We have always had a healthy respect for, and appreciation of, our fellow Cleveland sports fans.

Fans of the Browns, Cavs and Indians are passionate, there’s no questioning that. And, by and large, we are an intelligent bunch – even if we don’t always get credit for it. Trust us, we lived outside of New York City for seven years after college and were surrounded by Yankee and Knick fans who are allegedly sophisticated and knowledgeable. We quickly learned, however, that when it comes to New Yorkers, knowledgeable is just a code for loud and obnoxious.

But we’ve lately started to worry if, after a collective 138 years (and counting) without a championship, Cleveland fans are nearing the breaking point.

The rest of the story is at The Cleveland Fan.

(Photo by Life Magazine)

Comings and goings in Cleveland

Lots of activity in Berea this week, as the Cleveland Browns signed defensive ends Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker as free agents and resigned defensive back Dimitri Patterson.

While the Rucker/Parker combo are not Mario Williams, it is still a decent move by the team, with Rucker being a decent run stopper (and we all know the Browns can use all the help they can get defending the run) and Parker can still effectively rush the passer.

Parker isn’t an every down player any more, but he can still rush the passer, according to Cold Hard Football Facts, who wrote that “he can handle a decent amount of work and still produce. Even though he found opportunities limited in Philadelphia, he still responded with 22 combined sacks, hits and pressures on 138 pass rushes (last season).

And Parker knows how to get to the quarterback, recording six sacks in 2010 and eight sacks in 2009.

Read more…

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