Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “waiting for next year”

The true voices of the Cleveland fan

Had an excellent time last night at Waiting for Next Year’s gathering at Canal Park.

The night offered up the chance to meet several members of the WFNY staff, as well as Peter from Cleveland Frowns (turns out we have a mutual friend) and several others.

While it was great to meet everyone – and the 20-ounce Leinenkugels were perfect on a hot summer night (draft beer is truly one of life’s little pleasures) – even better was the opportunity to sit and talk with fellow Cleveland fans about why they write.

We had good conversations with Rick from WFNY and with Frowns about why they started their respective sites. It’s interesting that none of the founders of WFNY or Frowns himself ever aspired to be sports writers, but still gravitated to writing because they had something to say and were willing to put their opinions out there.

Sites like Cleveland Frowns, WFNY, The DiaTribe, Ten Cent Beers, RiverBurn (and this one), among others, are all working to make sure the voice of the fan is heard like never before. We are all working, in our own way, to give Cleveland what it needs, rather than something it already has.

And, just as importantly, this group is doing it without any hysterics. It has always drove us batty when we hear people ripping a particular player and then concluding that the player should be traded for a superstar. You won’t find that kind of irrational thought at most of the local sites, which is refreshing.

Rick pointed out that everyone at WFNY has a different style and brings different perspectives to the table. And you can see that applies to everyone else within the community. Frowns certainly has a unique voice, and The DiaTribe is a textbook example of quality over quantity. In their own way, everyone brings something beneficial to the discussion.

During our conversations the point was made that, as recently as 10 years ago, the only way you could be heard as a fan was to wait on hold for two hours so you could have 30 seconds with someone like Greg Brinda. (How depressing is that?)

Now those days are over and everyone – from the teams to the fans – are better off for it.

Rick talked about how front-office people from the local teams read WFNY to learn what fans are saying; Frowns talked about similar experiences with his site. If the teams are reading the sites, that only strengthens the message that the writers and the fans are delivering.

Plus, the more voices that are being heard the better – especially in a one-newspaper town like Cleveland. There is little doubt that the appetite for news about the local teams is enormous, which means there is plenty of room at the table for everyone to share an opinion.

We’re not as hard on the local beat writers as some – primarily because we used to be in the business – but if someone were to only receive their news about the Cavs, Indians and Browns from The Plain Dealer or WKNR, they would walk away with a perspective that is often not in touch with how fans really feel.

But with so many sites available comes a wide variety of opinions and, even if you sometimes disagree, the fact that so many people are talking and investing the time it takes to maintain a site shows the passion of Cleveland’s sports fans.

We’re definitely glad we decided to take a seat at the table.

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Waiting … and waiting … and waiting

We’re used to waiting here in Cleveland – we’ve been waiting our entire lives for a Cleveland team to win something.

But we have nothing on the fans of Stoke City.

The Premier League team earned a spot in the finals of the FA Cup over the weekend for the first time in franchise history – and that history dates to 1863.

The Potters are the oldest club in the Premier League and, despite periods of on-field success, have never lifted the FA Cup trophy.

“For 147 years, we have waited,” team chairman Peter Coates told the Stoke-on-Trent Sentinel.

“For me, this was without doubt the biggest win in the football club’s history because it puts us in the final of the biggest cup competition in the world,” Coates said on the team’s website. “To be honest, it really doesn’t get any better than this and going to the final is very exciting for us all.

Forget a lifetime of “waiting for next year,” how about generation after generation after generation after generation of waiting?

Kind of makes 1964 seem not that long ago.

The FA Cup was first held in 1871. The knockout tournament is open to all football clubs from the top flight all the way down to amateur teams – think if Major League Baseball held a tournament with every team down through the independent leagues – and drew more than 750 entrants this year.

The tournament is so much a part of English culture that it has been nominated as a cultural icon, along with Stonehenge, a cup of tea and the double-decker bus.

“The FA Cup has a unique place in English sporting culture and a magic all of its own,” said Brian Barwick, FA chief executive. “It has consistently generated some of the great stories and moments in sport and we are delighted that it has been recognised in this way.”

***

We know that Browns running back Peyton Hillis has made it to the finals of an online tournament to be the next cover athlete for the Madden NFL 12 video game.

We’ve also read and heard how EA Sports will never allow someone with a low profile like Hillis to be on the cover of the company’s flagship game.

But would Hillis really have a negative impact on game sales? Not according to this article from Sports Biz.

“What drives gamers to a particular title is that game’s review scores, gameplay and feedback from peers,” said David Riley of the NPD Group in the article. “While cover art can certainly enhance appeal and awareness, it’s hard to fathom that a gamer would drop $60 based solely on what appears on the cover.”

Riley said there is no hard research on an cover athlete’s ability to better sell a game.

“Great covers help practically sell everything, but can a cover alone sell a video game?” Riley asks. “Sure, some gaming consumers who stumble upon the latest title will be compelled to look the game over based on the cover, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to drive them to purchase it.”

The Madden cover spot this year is reportedly worth around $125,000, even though it does include some work—about a week full of commitments.

So while the Madden curse lurks for the winner of the tournament, it apparently doesn’t translate to game sales.

***

The NFL released the 2011 schedule and the Browns have an interesting year ahead of them.

Once again they will see familiar faces in news places as they take on Kamerion Wimbley (probably) and Oakland, Derek Anderson (maybe) and Arizona, former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and Miami, former special teams coach Brad Seely and San Francisco, Mike Holmgren’s former team in Seattle and Pat Shurmur’s old team, St. Louis.

After opening the season at home against Cincinnati, the Browns won’t play another division game until Nov. 27, when they see the Bengals again. They face Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice each over the last five weeks of the season.

Should be interesting.

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