Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Barcelona”

Turns out, their is an I in team

With their victory over the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat continue to disprove the old adage that there is no I in team.

By making the finals in the first year of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh playing together, the Heat are creating a new model for the NBA where the individual is more important than the team.

The Heat deserve some credit, we suppose. They manipulated the system to their advantage, the players colluded to play together, and now they have been rewarded with what could be the first of multiple trips to the NBA Finals.

As for the Bulls, the writing is on the wall. They learned the same lesson the Cavs learned the past two years: one superstar player and a supporting cast of role players isn’t going to get it done in today’s NBA.

And really, how are the Bulls any different than the Cavs of ’08-’09 and ’09-’10?

They both were led by a dominant player (Derrick Rose and James), with a group of role players (Carlos Boozer/Antwan Jamison, Joakim Noah/Anderson Varajeo, Keith Bogans/Mo Williams) and a head coach that preaches defense first (Tom Thibodeau/Mike Brown).

How long before Rose decides, rather than looking for help, that he can’t beat the Heat and leaves Chicago? Does anyone really think that in a couple of years, when Kobe Bryant is done in LA and Dwight Howard and the Lakers come calling, that Rose won’t head out west?

The Heat haven’t won the title yet; the Mavericks still have a say in this.

But we’ve seen the future and it doesn’t look pretty, at least in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

***

Former Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse, who suffered the most inexcusable injury in baseball history, feels sorry for San Francisco catcher Buster Posey but doesn’t join the hoopleheads in calling for a rule change to protect catchers.

“The game has been around more than 100 years, and now they’re going to start protecting catchers?” Fosse told The San Francisco Chronicle. “I can’t see anything that can be changed. In high school, you can’t run over a catcher. But that’s high school. This is professional baseball. The idea is to score runs. If the catcher has the ball and he’s standing there, the runner has to stop? Is that the protection?

“I can’t believe anything can be done, and I don’t see how you could regulate something like that.”

***

The football season comes to and end on Saturday when Manchester United takes on Barcelona in what should be an exciting final of the Champions League.

Will the game by the last hurrah for Barcelona and Spain?

Can Manchester United learn from the mistakes of 2009?

Can Edwin van der Sar go out a winner?

Finally, six of the best matches between the two teams.

And just think, with a 2:45 p.m. kickoff from London’s Wembley Stadium, we’ll be able to watch the final and only miss a couple of innings of the Tribe game vs. Tampa.

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Browns to draft someone next week

Breaking news out of Berea where Browns general manager Tom Heckert confirmed today the the team will select a college player with their first pick in the NFL Draft next week.

OK, Heckert wasn’t that vague, but he certainly played it close to the vest during a press conference Thursday to talk about the team’s draft plans.

“We have some holes to fill all over the place,” Heckert said. “We still have holes on defense and offense. We’re going to try to the best of our ability to stick with our philosophy of taking the best available player. I know everybody says that, but I think we’re in a better position to do that than some teams. Some teams may be one or two positions away from being really good. It’s probably a positive for us that we can take the best available player.

“I don’t know what the biggest need is. I know everybody has their opinion on that, but I think we’re in a situation where we can draft anybody and it will help us. I don’t know if it’s a ‘fill-a-need thing,’ but we’re not looking at it like that.”

So the Browns are going to draft someone that they believe is the best player for the team. Check.

What about LSU’s Patrick Peterson, who we are starting to really, really like at No. 6?

“He is a good football player. He is a rare guy just because of his size alone, size and speed.

“You are going to play close to 60 percent nickel so you are going to have three corners on the field 60 percent of the time. If you don’t have three of them they are going to find the one. They are going to and you have to roll coverage that way and then you are putting that guy on the island. The more cover guys you can have the better you are. You get a corner hurt, you can’t have enough corners.

“It’s the same thing with defensive and offensive linemen. Everybody talks about the starters and that’s great. On defense, the nickel guys, in the secondary and as pass rushers, it’s great to have an inside pass rusher or a nickel pass rusher. There are spots for that and the same thing with the offensive line. If one of your tackles goes down you better have someone who can replace him. That’s why those positions are so key that if you don’t have one you are going to be in trouble.”

All kidding aside, we wouldn’t expect Heckert to come out and specifically say who the Browns plan to pick – there’s no advantage for the team in doing that. From everything Heckert has said the Browns know what type of player they want and have done their homework.

Now it’s time to wait and see what happens with the teams picking before them in the first round. No matter what those teams do, the Browns are in a position to make the team better.

Just as important, Heckert doesn’t come across as someone who needs to use the draft to fuel his ego and show everyone how smart he is. He knows the time to do the work is now and then, on draft night, trust all the work the scouts did and all the time the coaches and front office put in evaluating players.

We get the feeling he won’t draft Gerrard Warren when everyone is saying Richard Seymour is the correct pick; nor will he fixate on just one player and then panic when it looks like that player will go off the board.

“If we end up staying where we are, we’re going to get a good football player,” Heckert said. “There are six guys and we’re going to get a good football player. That’s probably the nice thing. Obviously, you don’t want to pick up there all the time, but we know we’re getting a good football player. If we stay here, then we’re good. It’s really not going to affect us, what happens up there. It’s not a situation we’re that concerned about.

“You could try to get cute and say, ‘Well, maybe he’s going to be there later in the second round’ and then you lose him and you’re like, ‘How stupid was that?’ If you like the guy, take him. Don’t get too cute.”

Don’t get too cute. Now that’s a philosophy we can get behind.

***

Real Madrid beat Barcelona in the finals of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, setting off a celebration.

Is this the best victory parade not involving a Cleveland team? Yes it is.

After ending an 18-year wait to win the trophy, Madrid defender Sergio Ramos dropped the 33-pound cup from the top of the team bus during the victory parade – and the cup was crushed under the wheels of the bus.

“It is not in good shape, evidently, it was run over by a bus,” Madrid spokeswoman Marta Santisteban told The Associated Press in what is probably the understatement of the year. “It has to be fixed.”

It’s going to be a long time before someone can top that one.

Play like a Champion

With Inter Milan and Barcelona advancing yesterday to the semifinals of the Champions League, today’s return legs will fill out the remaining two places in the tournament’s final four.

If you’re planning to follow the World Cup this summer – and why wouldn’t you? – today’s games (Manchester United v. Bayern Munich and Bordeaux v. Lyon) and the rest of the tournament provide a perfect opportunity to catch some of the players who will be in South Africa perform for their club teams.

Wayne Rooney (although injured), Rio Ferdinand, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Frank Ribery, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi are just some of the players still involved in the tournament who should also take the field this summer for their national teams.

If you’ve never watched a Champions League match, give it a shot. And if you happen to be one of the five people in the country who receive Fox Soccer Channel in HD, more the better because this sport is built for HD on a large screen.

You never know, you may just like it.

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