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Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

So what else is happening in Cleveland?

Woke up this morning from a three-day NFL Draft stupor and realized there are other things going on in Cleveland sports.

Like the first place Cleveland Indians, who took two-out-three from the Angels this weekend.

Sunday it was Derek Lowe, who threw 7.2 shutout innings to run his record to 4-1 on the season. His sinker was sharp – he retired 12 Angles on ground balls – and Lowe has pitched at least six innings in all four of his wins.

“Lowe was outstanding,” manager Manny Acta said after the game. “He had command of that sinker and also a good slider. Any time you can take two of three from that pitching staff is great. Our pitchers matched up great against them.”

The starting pitching was dynamite all weekend, as Justin Masterson went 8.1 innings on Friday night, giving up four hits and two runs, while Jeanmar Gomez scattered five hits and just two runs over six innings of work Saturday night.

Read more…

Browns cowboy up with Weeden

The Browns ended the Colt McCoy era Thursday night, selecting Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden with the second of their two first-round picks in the NFL Draft.

“He was a winner,” coach Pat Shurmur said on the team’s website. “He obviously took a non-traditional path to being an NFL quarterback, but he’s a very mature guy. I think he’s an outstanding thrower. He’s a good decision-maker, very accurate. He found a way at Oklahoma State to really compete and win a lot of football games against a lot of the quarterbacks we’ve been talking about leading up to the draft. I wasn’t concerned about his age. He is a quarterback that helped lead his team to a lot of victories.”

Weeden earned the Oklahoma State starting job in 2010 and broke 15 school records. During his four-year career in Stillwater, Weeden threw for 9,260 yards and 75 touchdowns.

“As you know, maturity, leadership, how you go about business in a locker room, I think that goes a long way — especially playing this position,” Weeden told Kurt Warner on the NFL Network. “I use you as an example all the time. You had a tremendous career, won a lot of games starting at 28, all the way through your 30s and had a fantastic career. I’m not comparing myself to you — I hope to be mentioned in the same sentence as you — but longevity-wise, I think I’ve got a lot of football left in my tank. If I can play for eight, 10, 12 years, that’s a heck of an NFL career and something I would take a lot of pride in.”

We’ve heard the grumblings that Weeden is too old and that the Browns could have waited and picked him with their second-round pick. But if the team truly believes he is the guy, why risk it? Especially with all the trade activity going on in the first round.

According to NFL.com, “Weeden has an NFL-quality frame that allows him to look over the offensive line and deliver his throws without a hitch. His quick release is his strongest asset, as he consistently fires the ball with a compact throwing motion and strong delivery. The ball zips off his arm, and he has the ability to fit it in any tight space. He is ‘all of the above’ in terms of being a mature, poised leader. He is an accurate passer on throws short and long, and he has that gunslinger mentality to go for the deep ball when it’s an option. He understands route progressions and throwing the ball to allow his receiver to make a play.”

We’re going to wait until after tonight’s second and third round before really going into how the Browns did in the draft, but after selecting Alabama running back Trent Richardson and Weeden, there’s no doubt the Browns are a better team today than they were yesterday.

And when was the last time Browns fans could say that?

Mr. Richardson comes to Cleveland

Alabama running back Trent Richardson is the guy, as the Cleveland Browns took him with the first of their two first-round picks in Thursday’s NFL Draft.

According to NFL.com, “Richardson is as compact and coiled an athlete as the position has seen since Adrian Peterson. Richardson is explosive, powerful and balanced. He is a heady and instinctual player who is patient enough to wait for blocks and quick enough to cut backfield to daylight. Richardson has a strong core that he uses to break arm tackles and get physical leverage under blitzers in pass protection. He is a true three-down back who can be effective on screens.”

“I’m going to be the dude that’s on the field on third-and-three or getting the ball on third-and-three or fourth-and-one. I’m a whole, complete back,” Richardson said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Not to be cocky or anything, but I work on my game every day and even if it’s not doing physical stuff, I work in the classroom learning plays, learning formations, learning the defensive line and what the linebackers are doing, trying to see what the safety’s doing and if I can pick up my blitzes.”

In three years at Alabama, Richardson ran for 3,130 yards (fifth in school history) and 35 touchdowns on 540 carries. Last fall he rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns on 283 carries.

“When it comes down to if you’re going to hit me or I’m going to hit you, nine times out of 10, I’m trying to hit you,” Richardson said. “I love contact. I love running the ball. I love having the ball in my hands on first and second down. When I can, I love putting a team on my back when we can’t throw the ball or it’s a rainy day or something like that. I just love that pressure. You’ve just got to love the game to do what we do.”

The Browns are now a better team than they were before the draft started (and they still haven’t made their second selection of the night).

Right now, that is all that matters.

Time to exorcise those demons

Today is the day that Cleveland Browns fans have been waiting for since, we don’t know, Week 6 of last season, maybe? The NFL Draft is finally here.

This weekend is the most important three days of the team’s calendar and has been for the past two years as well. Because the draft is the only way the Browns are going to dig themselves out of the hole they have been digging since 1999.

The Cleveland Fan has the rest of the story.

Here & There; This & That

It was nice to wake up this morning and see the Cleveland Indians sitting atop the standings in the American League Central after beating Kansas City in the opening game of a six-game home stand.

OK, the Tribe is tied with Chicago and Detroit, but first place is first place.

Much like last year, the Indians have overcome a slow start and built a solid winning streak to move to the top of the division. After starting the season at 1-4, the Tribe has won eight-of-10 with a combination of solid pitching and clutch hitting.

The biggest surprise has been third baseman Jack Hannahan, who is hitting .364 so far this season. He also leads the team in RBI with 13, is currently on a seven-game hitting streak and is seven-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

Read more…

Road warriors return to Cleveland

What a road trip for the Cleveland Indians, as the Tribe went 7-2 on a nine-game swing through Kansas City, Seattle and Oakland.

It was the first time since 1988 that the Tribe won three consecutive series to start a season. And the last time they won seven games on a road trip was in September 2007 – and we all know how that season ended up.

The Tribe comes back home trailing the “unbeatable” Detroit Tigers by just one game in the standings. The Indians have actually outscored the supposedly dominant Tiger lineup so far, 74-70.

The Indians are giving up more runs, however, (72-65) which puts the teams almost even in run differential – +2 for the Indians, +5 for the Tigers.

And that is what has us wondering if the Tribe can keep pace with the Tigers.

As much as we like to poke fun at Detroit, barring injury the Tigers shouldn’t have any trouble scoring runs this year. But can the Indians continue scoring 5.3 runs a game?

Read more…

Can the sports section stay relevant?

It is a rare day where we don’t run into someone, either in person or online, who isn’t complaining about the state of sports media in Cleveland.

It has gotten so bad at times that we have heard people ask why anyone would even read a newspaper.

Which makes us wonder if traditional media – daily newspapers in particular – can meet the needs of today’s sports fans.

To find out the answer, head over to The Cleveland Fan.

***

Uni Watch came out with the first batch of reader submissions to rename and rebrand the Cleveland Indians today.

Let’s just say we are less than impressed with what the readers came up with.

***

Finally, Grantland tries to figure out just what it is the University of Akron is trying to accomplish with its football program. Very good read.

About that second round draft pick

We are now only six days away from the start of the 2012 NFL Draft and some (most?) Browns fans have come to some form of consensus on what the team should do in the first round.

While fans are still understandably divided over whether the Browns should select Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon or LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, most have come to the conclusion that the fourth selection in the first round is too high to select quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill or Brandon Weeden.

But many are starting to buy into the scenario where the Browns select Weeden with the team’s first selection in the second round (No. 37). Draft “expert” Mel Kiper has decided that adding Weeden in the second round would help the Browns earn an “A” grade from him for the draft. (h/t WFNY)

The thing is … selecting Weeden (or any quarterback) in the second round might be a huge mistake.

Read more…

It probably won’t happen, but …

Now that the five players who made up the starting lineup for the Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA championship game have all declared for the NBA draft, the speculation starts over where presumed No. 1 pick Anthony Davis will be playing next year.

The Charlotte Bobcats, currently at 7-54, will end up having the greatest chance (25 percent) of landing the No. 1 overall selection in the lottery.

But if you are Davis, or any top player, why would you want to play for the Bobcats?

The team is a mess, playing in a city that already saw one team, the Hornets, move out of town. The fans clearly care more about the college game than the pro version.

The Bobcats are on the verge of becoming the worst team in the history of the NBA. If Charlotte loses its last six games – and they currently have lost 18 in a row so it’s not out of the realm – they will finish with the worst winning percentage in league history at .106.

After Sunday’s loss to Boston, 68-year-old coach Paul Silas had an “altercation” in the locker room with forward Tyrus Thomas that resulted in Silas trying to stuff Thomas into his locker (even at 68 our money is on Silas).

As an owner, Michael Jordan makes Randy Lerner look hands-on.

And Davis should want to play for these guys, why exactly?

Read more…

Quick thoughts on 2012 Browns schedule

The NFL released the 2012 schedule on Tuesday (in case you hadn’t heard) and, as always, the Browns have some interesting match-ups ahead of them this fall.

  • The team opens at home, naturally, against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 9.
  • Their lone scheduled primetime game comes in Week 4 when they travel to Baltimore for a Thursday night NFL Network appearance.
  • They face the Colts and (presumably) Andrew Luck in Week 7
  • They travel to Dallas in Week 11 – probably the sole appearance of the brown jerseys this season.
  • The bye comes in Week 10
  • Week 14 brings Kansas City to town with old friends Romeo Crennel, Brian Daboll and Peyton Hillis.
  • The Browns host the Redskins and (presumably) Robert Griffin III in Week 15.
  • They travel to Denver in Week 16 to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
  • For the third season in a row, the Browns close the season with Pittsburgh.

Oddly enough, after making a big deal last year about back loading the schedule with division games, the Browns only have two division contests after the bye week – both against the Steelers.

The Browns will face teams that had a combined 135-121 record (.527) last season, giving them the third-toughest schedule in the league and the hardest for a non-playoff team.

Cleveland will face just four teams who had losing records last season – Kansas City, Buffalo, Washington and Indianapolis.

“Although we have known our opponents and where we are going to play since the end of last season, there is always a certain amount of anticipation as to how everything will fall into place,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said in a release. “I think that opening the year at home against the Eagles will be great for our players and our fans. It will be exciting to play a team, an organization and a coach for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect. It will be a good test for our team. Ending the year in two of the tougher venues in the NFL also will present a challenge. I am looking forward to kicking off the 2012 season.”

Which just makes next week’s NFL Draft that much more important.

(Photo by Cleveland Browns.com)

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