Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Making lemonade out of lemons

Welcome to Cleveland Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller.

Boy, we never thought we’d be writing those two names today. But it was that kind of night for the Cavs who had a unique night at the NBA Draft. And everyone knows how much we love unique here in Cleveland.

For the rest of the story, head to The Cleveland Fan.

(Photo by The Associated Press)

With the fourth pick, the Cavs select …

Unlike last year, when the Cleveland Cavaliers held the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft and targeted point guard Kyrie Irving from the moment they won the draft lottery, no one really knows what the Cavs will do in tonight’s draft.

We’re (pretty) sure that Cavs general manager Chris Grant knows what he wants to do but what he will do with the Cavs selection at No. 4 may hinge on one question:
How bad do the Cavs really want Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal? (If they want him at all.)
According to NBA.com, Beal has a:
“combination of attributes, most notably his ability to score, his intelligence and his strong work ethic. As good as he was as a freshman in college, he’ll get that much better because he’s not afraid to put the time in to improve. He’s a big-time scorer, who, although his 3-point stroke was a bit inconsistent in college, is a great shooter. He’s also a strong finisher. And as an added bonus, he’s a great rebounder.”

Spain to reign against Portugal

Today’s match between Spain and Portugal in the first semifinal of Euro 2012 should be one heck of a match.

Spain is looking to become the first team to win three consecutive major tournaments, while Portugal is hoping to ride the brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo to the finals.

After scoring only one goal in his last three international competitions, Ronaldo has found the net five times so far in this tournament, with game winners in the last two matches.

“He’s a demanding player to face, mentally and physically,” Spain’s Alvaro Arbeloa told The Guardian. “When you play against the best, people who are playing spectacularly well, it’s always tough. You know you have to be at your very best. I like to measure myself against the best players of the world and it’s a great challenge. Of course you can’t stop him for 90 minutes, but it’s a nice battle.”

If there is one team that should know how to slow Ronaldo – and which buttons to push to knock him off his game – it would have to be Spain, whose roster is filled with players from Ronaldo’s club team, Real Madrid, as well as Real’s biggest La Liga rival in Barcelona.

Plus Spain has yet to play its best game in the tournament, which they have been criticized for.

“Football is great because not everyone likes the same thing,” Andrés Iniesta told The Guardian. “Variety is nice; it’s good to have a diversity of opinions. We have a way of playing that has brought us success and for us there is no other way. Those opinions [attacking Spain] are perfectly respectable but it is true that when there is [only] one team that always wants to attack and has a rival that only wants to close off, drop deep, and avoid danger, of course the football is not as attractive as when both teams want to win and open up to attack each other.

“Let’s not forget that we changed Spanish football two years ago. And let’s not forget how we did it.”

As for Ronaldo, he says it’s all good.

“I am not feeling the pressure of playing Spain or any other team because it is part of my life,” he told The Daily Mail. “I will always have responsibility but pressure? Not much.”

We’ve been along for the ride with Spain since the start of the last World Cup and we see no need to hop off now.

Fast Times at Progressive Field High

It all started out simple enough with an article looking at how the Cleveland Indians have stayed near the top of the AL Central Division despite having one of the worst run differentials in baseball.

 “It’s been kind of weird, honestly,” closer Chris Perez told The New York Times after Monday’s loss to the Yankees. “If we’re ahead after five, we win. And even if we’re down by one or two, it seems big. It’s just one of those anomalies.

“When we get beat, we get beat. It’s usually big runs. And when we win, it’s close. The run differential is not going to be there.”

 And then Pure Rage got involved and took it too a whole other level (again).
“I don’t get the psyche (of Cleveland fans),” Perez said. “Why cheer against a guy (LeBron James) that’s not even in your city anymore? Just to see him fail? Does that make you feel good? I could see if the Cavs were in the championship, but that’s their mentality.
“They’ve had a lot of years of misery. They say, ‘You just don’t understand because you don’t live here.’ O.K., maybe I don’t. But that doesn’t mean it has to keep going.”

Read more…

America’s Love Affair with Uncle Drew

America has fallen in love with Uncle Drew.

During the NBA finals, more than 11.7 million people went online to find out that Uncle Drew, a character in a Pepsi Max ad campaign, is really the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving, according to The New York Times:

The video was filmed at Clark’s Pond Court in Bloomfield, N.J., which is close to where Irving’s father lives. Local players were gathered and told that Pepsi Max was filming a documentary on a character named Kevin who they claimed was a youth basketball coach. Other than Irving, Kevin and the player whose injury leads to Uncle Drew entering the game, no one on the court knew that it was actually Irving under the makeup.

The video was posted two days after Irving was officially announced as the rookie of the year. With no media behind it, the video garnered 10 million views. With 80 percent of the viewers watching four minutes into the five-minute video, and the key target demographic of males from 25 to 54 accounting for most of those views, Pepsi Max decided to create a series of trailers to the video to be shown during the N.B.A. finals, representing a significant advertising purchase. Even so, the decision was made to stay true to the viral roots of the video by not giving away anything in the 30-second spots.

The paper reports that the ads received a 98 percent like-rate on YouTube and made the front page of Reddit. During Game 5 of the finals, Irving was trending worldwide on Twitter, under both his name and Uncle Drew’s name.

Read more…

No Youkilis? No Problem for Tribe

The Cleveland Indians dodged a major bullet over the weekend when general manager Chris Antonetti didn’t get suckered into making a trade for a washed-up Kevin Youkilis.

Many fans and media members believed the Tribe should pursue Youkilis because he bats from the right side and would have helped balance out the Indians’ primarily left-handed hitting lineup, one that has struggled against left-handed pitching this year. (And, after all, if you have heard of a particular player then they must be good, right?)

But Youkilis would have been a bad fit all the way around. To find out why, head over to The Cleveland Fan.

A Word of Thanks

Now that our series on some of the biggest Cleveland sports stories has run its course, we wanted to take a couple of minutes to thank a few people.

First off, Rich and Brian from The Cleveland Fan. We didn’t give them any warning about what we were writing and when we dropped off a four-part, 14,000-plus word post it would have been easy for the two of them to run from the room screaming. But they were on board and worked to get a good distribution schedule set up with some good results for the site.

We originally came up with the idea for the column in February while on a StairMaster at the gym (it’s amazing the clarity you can find while doing something as mind-numbingly boring as walking up an imaginary flight of stairs). We jotted down some notes, subsequently lost them, and created a new list while on a drive back from Chicago (long car trips = imaginary staircases).

We knew what we wanted to do with the column but weren’t sure how to frame it, but that night at the Indians game really did give us the inspiration on how to tie the whole thing together.

Second, thanks to the Waiting for Next Year guys (Andrew, Rick, Scott and Craig), Peter at Cleveland Frowns and Rich for helping us determine when blogs and fan sites really took off in Cleveland. We always knew where we were going to start but the end date was a bit of a question at first. We thought 2004 was a good year to pick, but having them confirm that year was a big help.

And to answer a question we’ve heard a couple of times: yes, we know the Internet existed before 2004 and that there were some fan sites around Cleveland in the 1990s. But with no smartphones, tablets or social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, there is simply no way the level of fan interaction was the same.

Big thanks to authors Terry Pluto and Jonathan Knight. While we are generally pretty good about remembering dates and events, without their collected works on Cleveland sports, this series would have been a lot harder to pull together. Having reliable resource material was a huge help. If you haven’t read any or their books yet, you really should.

Finally, thanks to the Browns, Indians and Cavs for providing us with enough material over the past 40 years (both good and bad) to make something like this possible. We easily could have made this a Top 50 list and had plenty of leftover material.

Looking back on the 20 items we selected, it’s interesting that nine of the items related to the Indians, seven were about the Browns and four were about the Cavs. We didn’t think about the breakdown while writing and were surprised after the fact when we totaled the numbers, especially with Cleveland being a Browns town and all.

There are probably a few things we would have changed if we were doing this over. The items on Bernie Kosar being released and Joe Tait being fired were probably to micro; they were really subsets of what were much larger stories. In Tait’s case, that could have worked better in the Ted Stepien piece; Kosar should have been part of a longer item on Bill Belichick’s tenure as Browns coach.

Having history on our side helped elevate at least one of the stories. While it’s never a good idea to trade young, talented pitchers, there’s no way anyone involved with the Indians could have known that Dennis Eckersley would go on to have the career he did; but it still made for a good story. On the flip side, however, the Ron Harder deal will never not be a bad trade.

Overall we were pleased with the way the whole series came out and, if you read it, hope you enjoyed it.

20 Big Cleveland Sports Stories – Part 4

Technology and social media has changed the way we watch and interact with fans during sports events. We can be at home on the couch, at the stadium or the arena, and still interact with a community of Indians, Browns and Cavs fans across the country and around the world through Twitter, Facebook and e-mail.

That got us thinking about some of the biggest Cleveland sports moments in our lifetime in the pre-blog and social media era, which we are defining as anything before 2004.

So we came up with the 20 biggest sports stories that would have made the Internet blow up in Cleveland had these various social media platforms existed at the time.

Today’s installment closes out the list as we reveal No. 5 through No. 1 at The Cleveland Fan.

You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 over here and Part 3 over there.

(Photo by The Associated Press)

KSU, MKG, ESPN and CR7

It’s not the way we wanted to see it end, but the Kent State baseball team still had one heck of a run.

The Golden Flashes were eliminated from the College World Series on Thursday, losing to two-time defending champion South Carolina, 4-1. Gamecocks pitcher Michael Roth allowed only two hits and didn’t allow a base runner after the second inning.

Kent State pitchers Tyler Skulina, Casey Wilson and Brian Clark were almost as good, shutting down South Carolina’s offense after the third inning but it wasn’t enough.

“We have a lot of guys returning next year, and with all of this experience under their belts, it will help them out a lot,” Skulina told The Associated Press. “We have a really good class coming in next year for our freshmen. So that’s going to motivate them to want to beat us out for spots and be able to play, so that’s just going to make our team better.”

The Golden Flashes finish the year at 47-20. Along the way they won the Mid-American Conference championship for the fourth consecutive year, swept through their regional and beat Oregon in the Super Regional to become the first MAC team to reach the College World Series since Eastern Michigan in 1976.

Once in Omaha, Kent state lost the opening game against Arkansas, but rallied to eliminate the top-seeded Florida Gators before falling to South Carolina.

Read more…

20 Big Cleveland Sports Stories – Part 3

Technology and social media has changed the way we watch and interact with fans during sports events. We can be at home on the couch, at the stadium or the arena, and still interact with a community of Indians, Browns and Cavs fans across the country and around the world through Twitter, Facebook and e-mail.

That got us thinking about some of the biggest Cleveland sports moments in our lifetime in the pre-blog and social media era, which we are defining as anything before 2004.

So we came up with the 20 biggest sports stories that would have made the Internet blow up in Cleveland had these various social media platforms existed at the time.

Today’s installment looks at No. 10 through No. 6 and can be found at The Cleveland Fan.

Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 can be found over here.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

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