Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

From the editor’s notebook …

cavs no panicJust what the heck is going on with the Cleveland Cavaliers?

A 3-6 record … losers of six in a row on the road … owners of the second-worst point differential in the NBA … 27th in points per game … a starting back court of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters that is shooting a combined 39 percent from the field … a No. 1 overall pick in Anthony Bennett who has made four field goals total in eight games … it all makes our head hurt.

So, is it time to start worrying?

We will go with … sort of.

Certainly the Cavs are not off to the start that coach Mike Brown and the fans were hoping for. And it was a bit disconcerting to turn on the game Wednesday night against Minnesota, see that the Timberwolves were on a 18-6 run in the first quarter and realize that the game was probably over. And it’s hard to preach patience for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft in a town where fans are down to their last drop of patience.

But it is only nine games.

It may hard to accept, but this Cavs team is still a work in progress, one that should get better as the season goes along. They are still adjusting to playing with each other, still learning what Brown wants them to do – especially on defense – and their key players are still young.

“People should feel bad because we’re 3-6 and nobody wants to be 3-6,” Brown told The Plain Dealer. “But, I said this before when I first got here, this is going to be a process. It’s a journey. And it’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. But I still believe it’s going to happen in time. So we’ve just got to stay at it.”

Even though this is his third season, because of injuries and the lockout his rookie year Irving has only played in 119 – the equivalent of just under a season-and-a-half.

Waiters is just entering his second season, Bennett only played one season at UNLV and Bynum didn’t play at all last season while recovering from yet another knee injury. Up and down the roster, with the exception of Anderson Varejeo and Jarrett Jack, the Cavs are relying on players who are still figuring out what it takes to compete on a nightly basis in the NBA.

It may be excuse making, but it is also reality. As bad as the 29-point loss was to Minnesota, it only counts as one loss in the standings. And with games coming up against Charlotte (4-4) and consecutive ones with Washington (2-6), the Cavs have a chance to get themselves back to .500, which is what most fans thought they would be this year.

Irving and Waiters haven’t forgotten how to shoot the ball, and if there is one thing we are sure of it that Brown will get the team to play defense.

There still may be call for panic later in the season; we just haven’t reached that point yet.

Francona the right choice

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America got it right in naming Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona as Manager of the Year in the American League.

Francona deserved the award after leading the team to a 24-game improvement in the standings and a spot in the Wild Card playoff game. And even though the Indians lost, being in the playoffs is always better than not.

“I don’t really think you can put it in words, what he meant to the organization,” Jason Giambi told the team’s website. “Coming in there, he brought stability and a starting block for the organization to make the turn. It was off the charts. You can’t really put it into words. As soon as he walked in that clubhouse, you all of a sudden looked at the Cleveland Indians as a team that was heading in the right direction.”

While he was certainly deserving, we’re still surprised that Francona actually won the award. To really appreciate the job he did with the Tribe, you really needed to watch the team play on a daily basis. Francona had a steady hand and always seem to pull the right move out of his pocket just when the Indians needed it. (Well, maybe not against Detroit, but still.)

That kind of work is rarely rewarded, which is why we thought that Boston’s John Farrell would get the award after leading the Red Sox to the World Series (with a payroll almost double the Tribe’s.)

Clint Dempsey eyeing return to England

U.S. Men’s National Team captain Clint Dempsey is considering a return to the Premier League during the MLS off-season, according to multiple reports.

Dempsey could go back to England on a loan starting Jan. 1 and remain overseas until the MLS season resumes in early March. It’s a great idea as Dempsey needs to stay sharp in the run up to next summer’s World Cup in Brazil and the level of competition he would face in England is clearly better than what he can get stateside.

Dempsey’s former club, Tottenham Hotspur, reportedly have the first option to add Dempsey to their squad, with Fulham (who Dempsey played for from xx-xx), Aston Villa and Everton also reportedly in the mix.

While it is still uncertain where Dempsey will play this winter, we know he won’t be in the lineup this weekend as the USA takes on Scotland and Austria in friendlies. Dempsey strained his right calf in training on Wednesday and was removed from the roster by coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

The Premier League is off this weekend and resumes Nov. 23. Liverpool is currently two points back of league-leader Arsenal as the Reds have been rejuvenated by the return of Luis Suárez, who has scored eight times in six games after returning from his suspension.

“What is nice now is that Liverpool are in the conversation,” Brendan Rodgers told The Guardian after Liverpool went into the break by beating Fulham, 4-0 last weekend. “It was never, ever talked about but our performance and our consistency is making people sit up and take notice. Maybe people are saying: ‘They are a decent side.’ And we are getting better. We are playing very well.”

(Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)

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