Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Reds, Browns & Wahoos – oh my!

Huge sports day today around these parts.

The day kicks off with the opening of the 2011-12 Premier League season. Despite the ongoing violence in London and other parts of the country, six matches are still on tap for Opening Day, starting with Liverpool taking on Sunderland.

The Reds and manager Kenny Dalglish open their first full season under the ownership of John Henry and Tom Werner, who have taken on a data-driven approach to rebuilding the former kings of English football.

Liverpool have been active in the transfer market, spending $30 million each for Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson; $13 million on midfielder Charlie Adam; nearly $40 million for forward Luís Suárez; and a record $57 million for striker Andy Carroll, now the most expensive English player ever.

The club’s moves have all been an attempt to create more scoring opportunities – the baseball equivalent of getting more men on base – which, in theory, will result in more goals.

Downing, Adam and Henderson were among the league’s best last season in creating scoring opportunities. Adam created 2.06 chances per game, Downing was at 2.24 and Henderson was at 2.22, well ahead of the league average of 1.21 chances per midfielder.

Whether or not any of this actually pays off in goals is the great unknown, but it seems reasonable that the more opportunities you create the greater the chance is that you’ll score.

After making it through the morning and afternoon with the Premier League, we get the Indians tonight as they continue chasing the Tigers for first place in the Central Division.

After working so hard to pick up a game on the Tigers earlier in the week, the Tribe was in danger of giving that game right back on Friday night. But thanks to some bad fielding by the Twins infield and timely hitting by Carlos Santana and Matt LaPorta (of all people) the Tribe prevailed.

It probably shouldn’t have been a surprise that the Indians were struggling to score, as Justin Masterson was on the mound. In his past 20 starts, the Tribe has scored three or fewer runs 12 times and one or fewer runs six times.

Finally, the Browns return to the field tonight in their preseason opener, taking on Green Bay.

The starters are only going to play one quarter, but it will still be nice to see coach Pat Shurmur’s West Coast offense in action.

“You’re looking at a situation where 90 players and 20 coaches have gotten together for the first time for two weeks,” Shurmur said in published reports. “I want to see where we’re at as a team. My sense is we’re going to find we have a long way to go.

“For us, this is very fun to go out there and compete and see how good we are and try to win a game. That’s what motivates us. You work with a bunch of players for a certain period of time. You try to encourage them and empower them to do well, and you want to go out there and see it happen.”

“We’re still installing some plays and looking for consistency,” quarterback Colt McCoy said in published reports. “The biggest thing wide-receiver wise is we haven’t really developed a rhythm with everyone. Some guys get nicked up, they miss a couple practices, then they come back, another guy gets hurt. So it’s been a challenge. But I will say this: The receivers are working their tails off and there’s a lot for them to learn.”

We’re also looking forward to seeing how defensive tackle Phil Taylor and defensive end Jabaal Sheard look in defensive coordinator Dick Jauron’s 4-3 defense.

“I’m excited about it, but I’m humble too because it’s a big learning step for me,” Taylor said in published reports. “I’m going to take all the coaching I had last week and this week and go in and play hard every play.”

Should be one fun day.

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