Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Fulham”

It’s your turn now, Josh

Josh Tomlin takes the mound for the Indians tonight against Chicago looking to follow the lead of his fellow starting pitchers.

Despite losing two-of-three to Toronto over the weekend, Tribe starters Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Derek Lowe combined to give up just three earned runs in 22 innings of work (a tidy 1.23 ERA).

All three starters have gone at least seven innings, with Lowe hitting that mark Sunday on the way to giving up five hits and zero earned runs.

“When Lowe is on, it’s pretty hard for guys to lift the ball,” manager Manny Acta said in published reports. “And he did a fantastic job of getting ahead of hitters.”

Now it’s Tomlin’s turn to play “anything you can do I can do better.” The pitchers’ performance during the opening weekend is reminiscent of last year as the Indians rode solid starting pitching in building an early division lead.

After a rough opener last season, the Indians went 12-2 including an 11-game stretch where the starters threw 74 innings and gave up just 15 earned runs – a 1.82 ERA. They’ve also went an average of 6.2 innings in their starts.

If they can repeat that over the next couple of weeks it will help the team buy time until the offense (hopefully) decides to join the rest of the team in the regular season.

Read more…

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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.

Read more…

What we know about the Tribe, so far

The Indians gave us a few takeaways from their season-opening series with the White Sox:

  • Travis Hafner hit the ball hard on several occasions. In addition to his first homerun of the season, Hafner hit a broken-bat flyout to the warning track, and had ball hit the bottom of the fence in right-center field. It’s not realistic to expect Hafner to return to the glory days of 2005-06, but if he can settle in at a reliable pace, it will help deepen the lineup.
  • Carlos Santana can hit. Three hits on opening day, another two in Sunday’s win. Having Santana on the big-league roster from Day one can’t be underestimated.
  • The starting pitching will end up being OK. While Justin Masterson’s seven innings and one earned run won’t be the norm, we also don’t expect to see many outings like Fausto Carmona’s in the opener or Carlos Carrasco’s five runs in the first two innings on Saturday.
  • The bullpen, especially Chris Perez, Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp and Vinnie Pestano, make us feel good. We especially liked Pestano’s inning of work on Friday.
  • Matt LaPorta is starting to worry us.
  • Jack Hannahan obviously won’t continue to hit .364, but if he can stay about .275 or so, especially with his glove, it will help as the front office doesn’t want to have to promote Lonny Chisenhall too quickly.
  • The attendance. Oh boy. Early season, cold-weather games are always a tough sell, but 9,853 on Saturday followed by 8,726 on Sunday doesn’t do much for the bottom-line. With summer weather still a couple of months off, the Tribe needs to start playing some competitive baseball real soon.

So, while the Indians are only three games into a long season, there are more positives than the 1-2 record would indicate.

***

As frustrating as the series against the White Sox was, the Red Sox come to town on Tuesday off an even worse weekend.

What The Boston Globe calls The Best Team Ever staggered through one of its worst opening weekends ever, giving up 21 extra-base hits and 11 homers in a three-game sweep at the hands of the defending American League champion Texas Rangers.

“Just a real bad series,’’ Theo Epstein told The Globe. “For this to happen in the first series of the year leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But we’ll be better than this. Maybe we crammed April of 2010 (11-12, six games out of first place) into three days. I hope so.’’

The Tribe might be catching the Red Sox at a good time. If Boston continues to struggle, the Indians have a chance to steady the ship before heading out west.

Plus, since Progressive Field will be over-populated with Red Sox fans the next few days, it would be nice to see the Indians not only beat Boston on the field, but take money from their fans in the process.

***

Remember a few weeks ago when we told you about Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed plans to unveil a life-size, color statue of Michael Jackson outside Fulham’s home ground?

Well, the statue was unveiled over the weekend and it’s just as strange and creepy as we feared.

Check out the video at EPL Talk.

***

Peter King weighs in with some not-so-good comments about Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers’ Pro Day:

I think Clemson pass-rusher Da’Quan Bowers was underwhelming Friday in his campus workout and will slip out of the top 10. In November, he looked all but sure to be a top-five pick if he came out, but after undergoing postseason arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus, he needed a great effort Friday. He was just so-so. And to show how far his star has fallen, only one coach (Ken Whisenhunt) and two general managers (Thomas Dimitroff, Buddy Nix) attended the workout. He ran two 40-yard dashes in the 4.95-second range. To show you how mediocre a time that is, understand that 11 of the 14 tight ends at the Scouting Combine in February ran faster than 4.9.

Not good.

If this is true, it seems doubtful the Browns will take a chance on Bowers with their first pick in the draft.

***

Finally, James Walker at ESPN shares the story about the day Colt McCoy crushed Blaine Gabbert.

Owners Gone Wild

It’s been a weird week among team owners, starting at Craven Cottage in North London.

Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed announced plans this week to unveil a life-size, color statue of Michael Jackson outside Fulham’s home ground.

The statue, which overlooks the River Thames and stands between the Riverside and Hammersmith Stands at Craven Cottage, shows Jackson standing on his toes in what is being called an ‘iconic pose’. The words to his smash hit Thriller are engraved on the podium below.

We admit we don’t know much about Fulham’s history, other than they have a thing for signing American players, but this definitely sounds odd.

But we’ll let David Lloyd, editor of the popular fanzine There’s Only One F in Fulham, have the last word:

“If you has asked me if I wanted a statue of Michael Jackson at Craven Cottage I would have said ‘no.’ However, we owe an enormous debt to the chairman and if this is one of his whims, then that’s fine. As a football chairman he is one of the best; he’s been fantastic.”

OK then.

Closer to home, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert got loose again after the Cavs beat Sacramento for Cleveland’s 13th win of the season.

Gilbert took to Twitter to taunt Yahoo! Sports’ Kelly Dwyer, who had predicted the Cavs would only reach 12 wins on the season.

Gilbert reverted to his schoolyard days by asking “who is Kellie Dwyer?” and saying “Never heard of her.”

Oh boy.

We like Gilbert’s passion and willingness to spend money to try and make the Cavs better, but it seems as if the owner of a major professional sports team could act more maturely than a 14-year-old girl who just got dumped and is taking out her feelings on Facebook.

We first learned of the tweets at Ben Blog (check it out) and Waiting for Next Year weighed in as well with a good take.

But L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling wins the prize for this week’s for wackiest owner.

While testifying in Elgin Baylor’s wrongful termination civil trial against the team, Sterling claimed that he didn’t know of Baylor’s Hall of Fame career before hiring Baylor as vice president of player personnel in 1986.

Baylor was the NBA’s first overall pick in 1958 and a member of the league’s 50th anniversary team, was an 11-time All-Star who once scored 71 points in a game and brought the Lakers to the cusp of a title they would ultimately win the season he retired.

“I didn’t know that,” Sterling said according to The Los Angeles Times. “I hired him for $3,000 a month. I didn’t really know what his role was…. He was working in a mail-order company back then.”

What a goof.

***

Lost a little bit in the NFL’s labor issue, is a proposed rule change for next season that would potentially neutralize one of the Browns best scoring threats.

The league’s competition committee is expected to propose moving the kickoff up to the 35-yard line and bringing touchbacks out to the 25 – but only on kickoffs.

In addition, the kicker will be the only player allowed to line up more than five yards behind the ball and the committee will suggest outlawing the blocking wedge on kickoffs completely.

“The injury rate on kickoffs remains a real concern for us and the players and the coaches’ subcommittee,” Falcons president Rich McKay, the chairman of the competition committee, told ESPN.com. “This is a pretty major change.”

Opposing teams were already doing everything they could to kick the ball away from Josh Cribbs. Now with a shorter field to work with, the number of non-returnable kicks should increase, limiting Cribbs’ opportunity to handle the ball on kickoffs even more.

***

James Walker at ESPN.com weighs in with some good advice for the Browns in regard to their No. 1 pick on next month’s NFL Draft:

I agree that Georgia receiver A.J. Green is a tremendous prospect. But he’s not better than Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald. The aforementioned players are elite NFL receivers and they all played for losing teams in 2010. My point is the receiver position is not very important in the NFL hierarchy.

Games are won and lost in the trenches, and if you noticed, teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers take offensive and defensive linemen nearly every year. These are non-sexy draft picks that turn out to be huge when it’s time to play football.

Cleveland needs to start learning from the dominant teams in its division. President Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert drafted a lot of skill players last year and it’s time to add some meat to the NFL’s 27th-ranked run defense.

Makes a lot of sense. Here’s hoping Holmgren and Heckert are thinking along the same lines.

***

Finally, the NFL Network may start feeling some heat as players may be less than willing to appear on the network’s programs during the work stoppage because the network is owned by the league.

According to The New York Times, the NFL Players Association, which is now a trade association, has not advised players to boycott the network. But it is not pushing them to appear on it, either.

George Atallah, the association’s assistant executive director, told the paper, “My message is, regardless of the outlet, check with the association to get a sense for its previous coverage.”

Arizona kicker Jay Feely told the paper, “I wouldn’t go on there now. It’s a league-owned network, so I would take that stand. But other players can go on if they choose.”

We’ll admit, we didn’t see that one coming.

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