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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

It’s Cleveland; what’s not to like?

It was quite a week in Cleveland sports, with two stories dominating the headlines.

First off was Prince Fielder signing a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers.

The second, while off the field, made just a much news, as The Plain Dealer pulled longtime reporter Tony Grossi off the Cleveland Browns beat after Grossi sent a Tweet that personally criticized Browns owner Randy Lerner.

And the reaction to those stories from a growing legion of fan-driven sites highlighted what makes Cleveland such a great sports town.

Read more…


Browns get Chilly with it

The Cleveland Browns finally filled the offensive coordinator position on Friday, hiring Brad Childress to fill out the coaching staff.

So what are the Browns getting here?

Childress brings value to the position in that he’s experienced in the West Coast offense. He gives the Browns another voice immersed in the language of the offense and someone who should have no problem building on the knowledge base put in place during Pat Shurmur’s first year as head coach.

Childress also brings experience as a head coach, giving Shurmur a third person (along with defensive coordinator Dick Jauron and senior defensive assistant Ray Rhodes) to help Shurmur accelerate his learning curve as he heads into his second year on the job.

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On Twitter and the Media

We really weren’t surprised when news broke that The Plain Dealer had taken Tony Grossi off the Browns beat.

When Grossi tweeted last week that Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner is “a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world” it was only a matter of time, really, before some kind of punishment had to be handed down.

Grossi crossed a line when he went from professional to personal; rather than attributing the Browns continuing struggles to Lerner being a bad or disinterested owner, he attacked Lerner directly, and you just can’t do that.

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Unable is not the the same thing as unwilling

When the news came out that the Detroit Tigers were planning to sign first baseman Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract, the cries from Wahoo Nation rang out as loud and clear.

“The Dolans are cheap!” … “Why don’t they just sell the team?” … “Well, there goes the season.”

The feelings among a large segment of the fan base have become an annual part of Indian summer, providing a backdrop that is every bit as familiar as a John Adams drumbeat.

But does that make them true? Or realistic?

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

Can’t anyone coach this game?

Every week as the Cleveland Browns drudged their way through a 4-12 season, the anti-Pat Shurmur crowd was out in full force, bleating about the first-year coach’s shortcomings.

No matter what happened, it was somehow Shurmur’s fault.

We certainly share the frustration of another lost season – did we mention the Browns were 4-12? – but we never totally understood the level of criticism.

Head over to The Cleveland Fan for the rest of the story.

(Photo by US Presswire)

Belichick and Brady are certainly no Brown and Graham

There has always been a subset of NFL fans who think the league did not begin until the Super Bowl era started in 1967 (in these parts, they are known as Steeler fans).

So it didn’t totally surprise us when we read on ESPN how, if New England beats Baltimore in today’s AFC Championship Game, then Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will become the first head coach and starting quarterback tandem in NFL history to reach five Super Bowls.

Belichick and Brady are currently tied with Pittsburgh’s Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw, Buffalo’s Marv Levy and Jim Kelly, and Dallas’ Tom Landry and Roger Staubach with four Super Bowl appearances.

While getting to five Super Bowls is certainly an impressive feat, by ignoring the fact that the NFL has existed since 1920 and overlooks coaching and quarterback duos that have far surpassed what Belichick and Brady have accomplished.

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Even for Cleveland, it was a weird day

Even by the abnormal standards of the Cleveland sports world, it was an interesting day today.

First off, the Indians pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona was arrested in the Dominican Republic for using a false identity.

Turns out Carmona’s real name is allegedly Roberto Hernandez Heredia and he is allegedly 31, not 28 as originally believed.

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The Lost Boys

As fans of the Cleveland Browns, we all have our favorite players and memories.

For those of us born after the team’s last NFL championship in 1964, it might be the Kardiac Kids of Brian Sipe, Dave Logan, Reggie Rucker and company. For many, it is the Bernie Kosar teams of the late 1980s that went to three AFC Championship games, but couldn’t bring home a title.

But one era you rarely hear anyone talk about is the six-year stretch of the 1990s that started with Bud Carson’s last year as coach in 1990 and ran through Bill Belichick’s run as head coach from 1991 through 1995.

In many ways, those are the forgotten Browns.

Head over to The Cleveland Fan for the rest of the story.

Should the Browns go defensive in the draft?

We had an interesting conversation during Sunday’s playoff games on Twitter with Ben Cox and Mark Skog about what the Browns should focus on in April’s NFL draft.

Ben threw out the idea that the Browns should use free agency to make the offense at least average, and then focus on defense in the draft to help build a killer defense. The thinking being, it doesn’t matter if your offense is just OK if the other team can’t score.

We have to say we are intrigued. The idea of picking LSU’s Morris Claiborne with the No. 4 selection, building a secondary of Claiborne, Joe Haden and T.J. Ward, and then adding a linebacker or defensive end at No. 22, is a plan that we can get behind.

With the NFL turning into more a passing game every year, and the AFC North featuring quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton, working on building the best defense in the division could be a road to success that the Browns should consider taking.

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Steven Gerrard remains the anti-LeBron

Good news, as Steven Gerrard has signed a new deal that should keep him at Liverpool until he retires and that includes an ambassadorial when with the team once he finishes playing.

“This is the club I love and is the club I have supported since I was a young boy,” Gerrard told The Daily Mail. “I am living the dream as the captain of one of the biggest clubs in the world. I love coming to work every day and the experiences I have had since I was eight years of age and first signed for the club, I wouldn’t change them for the world. To extend that and to hopefully have some more good times in a red shirt is what I want.”

Manager Kenny Dalglish highlighted Gerrard’s loyalty to his hometown club.

“In this day and age there’s not many people who go through their football career and represent just one club, especially people with quality like Steven,” Dalglish told The Daily Mail. “If you’re happy where you’re playing, you’re enjoying what you’re doing and you enjoy the football club I don’t see any reason to move, and it’s fantastic for us that he hasn’t.”

Dalglish’s comments remind us of what we wrote when Gerrard signed his last deal with Liverpool.


Morris Claiborne, LSU’s All-American cornerback, announced on Thursday that he is entering the NFL draft.

Claiborne, the third-rated player on ESPN Scouts Inc.’s draft board, led the Tigers with six interceptions this season and returned one for a touchdown. The winner of the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back also was LSU’s top kickoff returner, averaging 25 yards per return, with one touchdown that went 99 yards.

Wonder what Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton would think about lining up twice a year against a pair of SEC cornerbacks in Orange and Brown?


The Indians are reportedly interested in free agent first baseman Carlos Pena, with general manager Chris Antonetti waiting to see if the Dolans will open their wallets.

While Pena is a name that fans will recognize, that doesn’t mean he will solve all the Tribe’s problems at first base.

According to Paul Cousineau at The Dia Tribe:

So, if we’re talking about offensive prowess, Pena’s 2011 numbers look the best…but that doesn’t mean that Pena does not come with legitimate concerns offensively, with the main concern being voiced by a scout in John Perrotto’s piece at B-Pro called “Best Players Still on the Board”: Scout’s view: “He can still help someone, but you better have a good right-handed hitter to platoon with him. He’s completely helpless against left-handers now, so you can’t play him 155-160 games anymore. At this stage of his career, he’s a complementary player rather than a major cog in a lineup, and I’d pay him accordingly.”

“Completely helpless against left-handers now”…oof, we already have a couple of those. Unfortunately, what the scout sees bears out in the numbers as Pena posted a .594 OPS vs. LHP in the NL last year, which comes on the heels of a .675 OPS vs. LHP campaign in 2010 for the Rays. In the last 3 years, Pena has a .704 OPS vs. LHP, a number that has trended down since the 2009 campaign. As a quick aside, Hafner’s OPS vs. LHP over that same timeframe (the last 3 years) is .680, so Hafner has actually been less effective than Pena vs. LHP since the beginning of the 2009 season…and since there would only be one Carlos Santana to go around, you’d still be looking for a RH platoon partner for Pena (or Hafner) if a guy like Pena is signed, warts and all.

Read the rest of Paul’s analysis of the situation here. Hopefully someone can forward the link to the Dolans to help them with their decision.


Finally, it was one year ago today that the Browns hired Pat Shurmur as head coach.

Here’s what we had to say about the hiring.

Looking back on what we wrote when Shurmur was hired, we pretty much nailed it.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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