From the editor’s notebook …
A look at a few items that warrant attention but not necessarily a full post …
The Indians still have some fight in them
They made it a lot harder than it had to be, but the Cleveland Indians finally hit back against Detroit on Sunday.
After losing the opening two games of the series in rather unpleasant fashion, the Tribe bounced back on Sunday to beat the Tigers, 9-6, thanks to Michael Brantley’s two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Brantley had two home runs and five RBI on the day, the fifth anniversary of the C.C. Sabathia trade that brought Brantley to Cleveland.
The win was just the Tribe’s sixth against Detroit in their last 20 games dating back to last season and it was made harder by the Tribe’s increasingly ineffective bullpen.
Starting pitcher Corey Kluber, the Cleveland Indians personal streak buster, did his part, working 6.1 innings, giving up just five hits and two earned runs while striking out 10 as the Indians built a 6-1 lead in the seventh inning. But then Joe Smith gave up two runs in the seventh (one charged to Kluber) and Vinnie Pestano gave up a three-run home run to Torii Hunter in the eighth and it suddenly didn’t look so good for the Tribe.
Luckily for everyone Brantley was around to save the day with a home run off of Al Alburquerque to regain the lead for the Tribe. Chris Perez closed out the ninth to earn his ninth save of the year.
So despite opening the series with two losses, if the Tribe can find a way to beat Detroit on Monday, they will exit the series with a split and remain just 1.5 games back of Detroit as they move into the final six games before the All-Star break.
The Cavs continue to add to the roster
Cavs general manager Chris Grant made two nice pick-ups this week, agreeing to contract terms with free agents Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark.
Jarrett has reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with a bit more than $19 million in guaranteed money. He’s a solid backup at point guard who averaged 12.9 points and 5.6 assists in 29.7 minutes off the bench in one season with Golden State. Not only will he be an asset with the second unit, he’s also a good insurance policy for when starter Kyrie Irving misses games during the season. (Come on, you know that is happening.)
According to Mercury News reporter Marcus Thompson II, Jack “emerged as one of coach Mark Jackson’s most reliable players. His ability to be a floor general and hit big shots made him invaluable to the Warriors on the court. His presence also allowed Golden State to play star point guard Stephen Curry off the ball. Jack was also key in a locker room that developed noteworthy chemistry on the road to a first-round upset of Denver and a six-game battle with Denver.”
Clark, who the Cavs signed to a reported two-year contract worth $9 million, with a team option for the second year, averaged 7.3 points in 23 minutes per game last year with the Los Angeles Lakers – both career highs.
Clark should be a nice piece, but it may be a good idea for fans to temper their expectations a bit. The Cavs will be his fourth team since being drafted out of Louisville in 2009. He may be an end-of-the-rotation type player or he could be one that is finally finding his game after being given a chance last season. If it is the latter then that will certainly help as the Cavs gave Alonzo Gee starter’s minutes last season and, when you do that, you wind up with Alonzo Gee playing too much.
Dri Archer receiving national attention
Kent State’s Dri Archer is one of Big Lead Sports’ Top 50 College Football Players for the upcoming season.
The senior running back is coming off a 2012 season where he set the single-season school record for touchdowns with 23, led the nation with 9.0 yards per carry and in kick returns with an average of 36.9 yards per return.
Archer also joined teammate Roosevelt Nix on Phil Steele’s 2013 Preason All-American Team.
Nix, a three-time All-MAC First Team selection at defensive tackle, is among the nation’s career active leaders in tackles for loss (52.0), sacks (20.5) and forced fumbles (10).
As good as he was last season, it was still a good idea for Archer to come back for his senior season. He still gets to share a backfield with Trayion Durham and another year at Kent will give him time to work on the holes in his game.
USMNT to open Gold Cup on Tuesday
The CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off today and we will see the U.S. Men’s National Team in action on Tuesday against Belize.
It will be a different team with a different purpose than the 2011 Gold Cup, which saw coach Bob Bradley lose his job after the U.S. lost in the final to Mexico.
This time, the U.S. is sending its B team with the idea of getting its younger players experience at the international level and giving its top squad some rest after three World Cup qualifying matches in the month of June.
There are also a couple of players – most notably Landon Donovan – who are hoping to use the Gold Cup as a way to convince coach Jurgen Klinsmann that they deserve a spot on next summer’s World Cup roster.
Even with the U.S. not sending its top squad, Klinsmann should be able to guide the team to the July 28 final in Chicago where they should face a familiar foe in Mexico (which opens today with a game against Panama). But even that is not a guarantee, as El Tri put forth an embarrassing effort in the Confedrations Cup and is currently just 1-0-5 in World Cup qualifying, sitting in third place in the table, just one point ahead of Honduras and a full five points behind the USA.
How much does Dwight Howard want to win?
Free agent center Dwight Howard chose the Houston Rockets because he reportedly wants to win.
How do we know this? Well, Howard said so himself. “I want to win. Nothing else matters other than winning,” Howard said in an interview with Hoopsworld.com.
Howard may have a chance to prove just how much he wants to win because the Rockets reportedly don’t have enough cap space to sign him to a maximum contract. And we all now how much NBA players love signing for less than the maximum.
The Rockets can save some money by releasing the four players on their roster that have non-guaranteed contracts – Greg Smith, Tim Ohlbrecht, James Anderson and Greg Smith – but that still won’t give them enough money.
They can also trade away a couple of players, but if you are the general manager of another team what is your incentive to help out the Rockets?
Or Howard could take less money so the Rockets don’t have to gut the roster to bring him on board.
So … how bad does Howard want to win?
Football season is coming
Only 41 more days until the Premier League kicks off the 2013-14 season and just nine more Sundays until the NFL returns.
(Photo by The Associated Press)