Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the tag “Cleveland Indians”

From the editor’s notebook …

browns release ben tateIt what was a surprise – at least to us – the Cleveland Browns released running back Ben Tate on Tuesday.

In eight games with the Browns, Tate rushed for 333 yards and four touchdowns, which, interestingly enough, were as many touchdowns as the Browns rushed for as a team in 2013. Tate’s rushing yards were a bit inflated by his 124-yard performance against Tennessee; take away that game and he was averaging just 2.49 yards per carry.

“With all the transactions we make while constructing our roster, it will always be our intent to do what is best for our football team,” general manager Ray Farmer said in announcing the move. “This move is no different and we wish Ben the best going forward.”

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From the editor’s notebook …

antonio brown steelersWith the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town on Sunday for what has turned into a rather important divisional game, the Cleveland Browns are facing the usual litany of problems when it comes to the Steelers.

One of those problems may be getting worse with the uncertainty surrounding the availability of cornerback Joe Haden, who may miss the game after injuring his hip in the win against Tennessee. (Defensive tackle Phil Taylor is also out now for several weeks after injuring his knee, which doesn’t help matters, either.)

Even with Haden in the lineup the Browns have had problems with Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown, who has career highs in receptions (37), receiving yards (610) and touchdowns (four) against the Browns. In the opening game of the season, Brown had five catches for 116 yards and a touchdown.

See what we mean?

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Tribe’s problems easy to spot, but solutions may not be

Kansas City Royals v Cleveland IndiansThe Cleveland Indians closed out what ultimately will go down as a disappointing season on Sunday with a 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Tribe came into the season with high hopes and looking to build on the momentum of making the Wild Card play-in game in 2013. But the team came up short of a return trip to the playoffs, meaning the Tribe hasn’t had consecutive playoff appearances since the last millennium (1998 and 1999). They did the season at 85-77, in the process managing to post consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2001 and 2001, so at least they can hang their hat on that.

It was readily apparent, even just from watching a handful of games, what was wrong with the team this season. The Tribe’s defense had a major-league leading 116 errors; the bullpen was inconsistent; and the offense had a major drop off in the second half of the season, especially in September, which helped to stall any thoughts of repeating last September’s 21-6 record.

Diagnosing the problem is only half the battle, however, as finding a cure could prove to be more difficult.

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Numbers can often confirm what we are already seeing

joe haden numbersIn his autobiography, Mark Twain famously wrote that “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

Twain wasn’t talking about sports when he wrote that, but he certainly could have been. It is very easy to manipulate statistics and numbers to support any argument you are making, especially if you worship at the ideal of analytics and some of the newer categories of statistics that have come into circulation in the past few decades. (For the record, we are not anti-analytics; we just don’t believe they are the be-all, end-all that some people make them out to be.)

But that doesn’t mean that statistics don’t provide a valuable tool when it comes to sports, especially when they reinforce what you see on a weekly or nightly basis.

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From the editor’s notebook …

jd martinez indiansIf the Cleveland Indians come up short this season in their quest to return to the playoffs, there will be plenty of moments and miss opportunities for Tribe fans to point to as they review the season.

The biggest one may be J.D. Martinez of the Detroit Tigers.

Friday night, Martinez had a three-run homer and a triple as the Tigers beat the Indians for the fourth time in the past five meetings. On the season, Martinez is batting .327 against the Tribe, with six home runs and 18 RBI.

It’s not just the Indians that Martinez has been tormenting as he has clearly taken a liking to the American League Central. He’s batting .432 against Kansas City, with five home runs and 15 RBI; .324 against Minnesota; and .319 against the White Sox.

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From the editor’s notebook …

browns final rosterThe final roster cuts have been made, the practice squad players have been signed and the Cleveland Browns have begun preparations for Sunday’s season-opening game against Pittsburgh.

We’re less than a week away from Browns football, whether anyone is ready for it or not.

The only real surprise among the player cuts was MarQueis Gray, who seemed like he might be able to help the team as a fullback. But the Browns apparently decided that if they were going with a fullback on the roster, why not have Ray Agnew – someone who has actually played the position – over trying to convert a play like Gray to the spot. It’s a radical idea, we know, but it just may be crazy enough to work.

The Browns didn’t waste any time parting ways with cornerback Leon McFadden -who was selected about three rounds too early in the 2013 NFL Draft – and guard Garrett Gilkey, leaving Barkevious Mingo and Armonty Bryant as the only players remaining from the one and only draft from Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi. So much for that duo’s continued claims that they set the team up for long-term success.

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From the editor’s notebook …

hoyer starting quarterbackCleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine made if official earlier today, naming Brian Hoyer as the team’s starting quarterback.

The decision ends what we can only hope was not an ill-fated quarterback competition between Hoyer and rookie Johnny Manziel. Now Hoyer can work exclusively to get not only himself but the offense ready for the season-opener on Sept. 7 against Pittsburgh.

“(Brian) was the clear leader from the beginning,” Pettine said in announcing the decision. “We’ve maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room.”

Pettine probably made the right call (we’re pretty sure he did, but we won’t know until the season starts). Even though it is only a few games, Hoyer has more experience running an NFL offense than Manziel. Hopefully having him play most of Saturday’s preseason friendly against St. Louis, combined with giving him all the first-team reps in practice from here on out, will help him shake off the rust from not having played since injuring his knee last October.

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How did that happen?

tribe playoff raceIt has been an interesting summer so far, with plenty of attention on the World Cup; the return of LeBron James to Cleveland, and the possibility of a deal for Kevin Love; and all things Johnny Manziel as the Cleveland Browns work their way through training camp.

The Cleveland Indians have pretty much just been an afterthought, sitting on the periphery of Cleveland’s collective sporting conscience with a .500 record.

But take a closer look at the standings in the American League and, heading into Tuesday night’s game against Cincinnati, we realized that the Tribe is just 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.

Wait … what?

We’re not sure how they are doing it, but manager Terry Francona once again has the Tribe in the race for a playoff appearance.

In light of this surprising development, it seems like a good time for a quick Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down on the Tribe so far.

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From the editor’s notebook …

kyrie reacts to injuryWhen we heard the news that Indiana’s Paul George had suffered a major leg injury during Friday’s scrimmage with USA Basketball it reinforced our belief of club over country.

We understand that injuries can happen at any time (see Winslow, Kellen) and that this is the first  major injury suffered by an NBA player since they started playing on the national team in 1992, but we’ve never been worked up if a Cleveland player is passed over for an All-Star game or for an international competition. It certainly is a nice honor for a player, but from a fan perspective we never saw the value in it.

Why do we need to see Kyrie Irving (who has enough trouble staying on the court as it is) or LeBron James spend the off-season putting extra miles on their bodies? Or watch Joe Thomas or Alex Mack at the Pro Bowl, just waiting for someone to accidentally roll up their leg and blow out a knee? How did playing in the World Baseball Classic work out for Vinnie Pestano?

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From the editor’s notebook …

david blatt cavsThe Cleveland Cavaliers landed their man on Friday, naming David Blatt as the team’s latest head coach.

We admit to knowing next to nothing about Blatt before the Cavs undertook their third head coaching search in the past four years. But the more we learn about him the more we are intrigued by the hiring.

Blatt comes to the Cavs fresh off leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague championship. His coaching job in the tournament led one NBA general manager to observe that “Maccabi was outgunned at every position except coach. David took down two Goliaths in a weekend. He belongs in the NBA.” (h/t to @WFNYJacob for the link to that story.)

Over the past four seasons, Blatt’s teams went 222-55 and, in addition to this year’s Euroleague title, won the Israeli Cup and Israeli league title. He’s been a head coach in Europe for 15 years and coached the Russian national team from 2006 to 2012. (So at least he will be used to the harsh winter weather in Northeast Ohio.)

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