From the editor’s notebook …
Are the Indians done for the year?
Is it OK to call the season over for the Cleveland Indians? Is Sunday’s comeback win the start of another streak? Or was the win just a reprieve until until the inevitable becomes reality?
We need answers after the Tribe rallied from five runs down on Sunday to beat the Los Angeles Angels and salvage one win on the seven-game homestand.
The Indians opened the week just three games out of first place in the A.L. Central and holding the second Wild Card spot. After being swept by the Tigers in the biggest series since 2007, and losing two-of-three to the Angels, the Indians head off to Minnesota seven games behind Detroit and four games back in the Wild Card.
Throw in the release of Mark Reynolds, an injury to starting pitcher Cory Kluber, a “dead arm” for starter Scott Kazmir, and the continued absence of an offense – the Tribe scored three or fewer runs in five of the seven games – and it sure seems like the end is near for the Indians.
Not helping on offense is Asdrubal Cabrera, who is hitting just .193 since July 1. Manager Terry Francona stubbornly is keeping Cabrera in the No. 4 slot in the lineup, despite Cabrera hitting just. 216 in that spot – because Cabrera might, someday, “get hot” at the plate. Cabrera didn’t help matters much on Sunday when he was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Vic Carapazza.
Come to think of it, getting Cabrera’s anemic bat out of the lineup may have been the best thing he’s done to help the Tribe in weeks.
The Tribe is now hitting the road for nine games, starting with a three-game series with a Minnesota team that is 16.5 games out of first place. The trip includes a big series next weekend with Oakland, as the A’s are one of the teams standing between the Indians and a possible Wild Card spot.
The Indians were not up to the challenge this past week; we’ll see if they can take advantage of a new opportunity next week.
The Browns looked competent in their preseason friendly with St. Louis …
As much as you can take away from a game that doesn’t count in the standings, the Cleveland Browns didn’t look bad Thursday night against St. Louis.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden looked more comfortable in the team’s new offense, although he still locked on to his receivers to much; wide receiver Davone Bess proved he knows how to run a pass route that is further than the first-down marker, in the process making what should be the first of many third-down receptions that keep drives alive; the defense was feisty and put some pressure on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford; wide receiver Travis Benjamin is ridiculously fast as he showed on a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown, a good thing as, at his size, if he ever took a real shot from an NFL defender he would break into about a million pieces; and no one came out of the game with a serious injury.
It was nice to get a look at Dion Lewis, who showed how he could potentially be a OK back-up to Trent Richardson at running back. Lewis had a nice nine-yard run on a draw play (Richardson would have probably scored on the play), and added a 16-yard reception and a two-yard touchdown catch.
But after that initial nine-yard run, he only gained three yards on four carries, so it may be a little early to start crowing about how Joe Banner got the better of his “nemesis” in Philadelphia in the trade for Lewis.
We were disappointed not to see corner backs Chris Owens or Leon McFadden play; hopefully they will be back soon as the secondary is going to need all the help it can get. And no matter who the defensive coordinator is, the Browns don’t ever seem to have a clue about how to defend a screen pass.
But, like we said, overall not a bad start to latest rebuilding project. The Browns are back in action on Thursday against Detroit.
… while Rams coach Jeff Fisher shows his priorities are out of order.
St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher took offense to Bernie Kosar, who does color commentary on Browns games during the preseason, pointing out that Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens, among others, is not very good.
“I guess I’m a little disappointed,” Fisher said during his Saturday press conference. “I felt bad for them that they had someone doing their broadcasts feel the need to speak that way about players, specifically on our team, and coaches for that matter. I’m just surprised that Bernie has such a lack of respect for players and for this game. To be honest with you, I lost a lot of respect for him.
“This game, it’s a preseason game, players are playing hard. It’s highly unlikely he knew anything about our football team but felt the need to make those comments. And I don’t think they were justified.”
We feel obligated to point out a few relevant facts about Fisher:
- In 19 years as a head coach in the NFL, he has posted just six winning seasons.
- In 19 years as a head coach in the NFL, he has posted five seasons with nine or more losses.
- Since 2004, his teams are a combined 61-66-1.
In other words, Jeff Fisher needs to worry more about the Rams and less about what a color commentator has to say.
It wasn’t just Fisher whining, of course. Media personality Peter King – who shares an agent with Fisher – had to chime in on Twitter, posting the ignorant question of whether or not Kosar was inebriated during the broadcast. (You can read more about that over at Kanicki’s joint.)
That’s pretty rich coming from someone who, in his weekly column, puts in a commercial for whatever beer he was pounding down during the previous week.
Unfortunately, the Browns decided that having the back of a member of the family is not important, as Banner issued a public reprimand of Kosar on Sunday.
“We don’t condone the personal and unprofessional approach that Bernie took with some of his comments during the broadcast Thursday night,” Banner said in the statement. “We’ve spoken to Bernie, he understands that, and we would expect the situation is resolved moving forward. We’ve also reached out to the Rams organization and have shared those same sentiments.”
So let’s review. It apparently is OK that the Browns current general manager called the drafting Weeden a “panicked disaster” and said the Browns “wasted” a draft pick on wide receiver Josh Gordon.
But it’s not OK for a commentator to have an opinion during a television broadcast.
Got all that?
Tristan Thompson looking to make history
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson is looking to do something that few, or possibly no, NBA player has ever done before.
Thompson, a lefty, has started shooting all his jump shots and free throws right-handed.
“I was in Phoenix (last November) and I just started shooting right-handed and got a lot of compliments on it,” Thompson told Canada’s SportsNet while training with the Canadian national team. “A week later when we got back to Cleveland and got one of the ball-boys to record me and I shot 100 jumpers with my left and 100 with my right and it was significantly better with my right-hand. There was just a better flow to it with my right, it looked smoother.
“At first I didn’t want to do it … but then I thought about it and at the end of the day I want to be the best player I can be for the Cavaliers and the best player I can be for myself and if that takes me making an adjustment in my jump shot or anything else, why not make that switch?”
Good for Thompson for being willing to try something to improve his game, but we’re still a little uneasy about it, especially after reading Jerry Colangelo’s thoughts on the move.
“There are a lot of players who work hard so they can finish equally well with both hands, but as far as changing the hands they shoot with? I’ve never heard of that. That’s 1-in-1000 right there,” said Colangelo, executive director of USA basketball and someone who has been part of the NBA since the 1960s.
For their part, the Cavs say they are OK with Thompson’s off-season experiment.
“(Tristan’s) the kind of guy that will have success because his work ethic is off the charts,” general manager Chris Grant said. “He’s very, very diligent about it. … From our standpoint we believe in him so much as a person — he’s exactly what we want our team to be about — it was a pretty easy decision. He came to us and said he wanted to do this and we helped him lay out a plan to make it happen. We laid out benchmarks for him and he surpassed them very quickly.”
No word on what coach Mike Brown thinks.
The enemy of my enemy.
Liverpool and Manchester United have joined together in a most-unexpected alliance to stop two of their biggest players from forcing their way out of town.
According to The Daily Mail, John Henry, principal owner of Liverpool, and the Glazer family, who own Manchester United, have formed an unofficial agreement to stop Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney from jumping to rival teams in the Premier League.
Liverpool officials still maintain they will not sell Suarez at any price to Arsenal, and Manchester United will not let Rooney move to Chelsea.
With less than a week to go until the start of the season, it will be interesting to see who blinks first.
(Photo by The Plain Dealer)