Does it feel to anyone else that Cleveland sports has become more fragmented? While this has always been true to a certain extent, I get the feeling that more and more the three sports teams are in direct competition with each other. I don’t know if it’s because of twitter, but it’s no longer good enough to simply be a Cleveland sports fan.
You have to pick a side. Twitter and talk radio are full of these “who ya watching tonight, Browns or Indians” debates, as if people are unable to switch back-and-forth between two channels or that there’s a correct “True Cleveland Fan” answer1.
Blogging about sports has become similarly fractured. While there’s no formal structure here at WFNY and we’re all allowed to write about whatever topics we choose, I mostly focus on the Cavs. They’re my first love, my favorite team and the NBA is the one sport where I know I’m not completely pulling stuff out of my butt. I watch their games multiple times (I’m a masochist) and I follow not only the Cavs, but rest of the league fairly closely. Generally, I have a good idea of what’s going on in the Association.
But with the Tribe and baseball? I am fully aware of how much I don’t know. Bill Simmons brought up this concept in his BS Report with Nate Silver. Simmons said that while he still follows the Red Sox, he hasn’t written anything about baseball because he’s so far out of the loop. He’d rather leave baseball stuff to someone who’s plugged into to the day-to-day story happenings of the MLB, like Jonah Keri.
I feel the same way here at WFNY. Rather than pontificate about Terry Francona’s bullpen moves, I’ll leave that to folks who have some semblance of an idea of what’s going, like TD or Jon. While I’m off spending my summer disc golfing, guys like Craig and Rick are actually at Browns camp learning stuff. I’ll defer to them on anything Browns related, thankyouverymuch. We build our own lanes. We have no other choice, really2.
You can’t know everything.
All that being said, I HAVE OPINIONS ON STUFF so here’s some quick and random thoughts on a bunch of topics.
– This past week for the Tribe has been biblically bad. Getting swept at home by the division leading Tigers is awful enough. They lost game one in the worst possible way and then never seemed to recover. It confirmed all of the worst fears3. The week starts off with a Chris Perez blown save and ends with Ubaldo using a throwing error to extend the losing streak to six games. Oh, and this epic Indians meltdown just so happened to come during the same week that the Browns put on real uniforms and faced off against another team. This week really couldn’t have gone worse.
– I disagree with my man Scott’s tweet here.
If they win 87 games and miss the wildcard, it’s no better than a season ago. Fun while it lasted but the goal is a World Series.
— Scott @ WFNY (@WFNYScott) August 8, 2013
I don’t mean to single out Scott, but it’s not like he’s alone in this sentiment. Sure, if the Tribe wins 87 and misses the wildcard, yes, technically the end result is the same as last season: no playoffs. Clearly this team has improved from a year. They have an opportunity to be in a playoff chase over these next two months. This following sports thing is supposed to be fun and if a bunch of us dismiss a large improvement from the Tribe because the final result wasn’t perfect, we’re missing the forest for the trees.
– That’s not to say we should throw a parade for a 87 win non-playoff team. The last thing I want to do is heap praise on mediocrity. But you can have fun following a sports team even if their season doesn’t end with a championship. This entire town is aching for that title, but that doesn’t mean we have to dismiss small improvements or growth.
– We have to get over the negativity. This week sucked for the Tribe and Perez’s blown save was awful. But c’mon.
— Ben Cox (@WFNYBen) August 6, 2013
Not every loss or every Cleveland slight has to be a part of some greater Cleveland Always Gets Screwed narrative. It was a horrible loss but it wasn’t season ending. Also, regular season losses, no matter how crappy or sour crushing =/= playoff losses.
– I feel more positive about the Browns than I have in years. It’s hard for me not to be cynical about the Browns, especially if you’re a basketball first guy like me. What I mean is, seemingly every year I get subjected to Browns fans calling in to talk shows and telling Kenny Roda he’s dumb for not picking the Browns for the AFC title game. It drives me nuts. As if the recent Browns have done anything to get the benefit of the doubt. Let’s see if they can crawl before we predict them running, ya know?
– But this year… well, I dunno if I’m drinking the Kool-Aid, but I do feel good. Not AFC title game good. But respectable. Maybe… 8-8..ish. We’ve only seen one preseason game, but there’s enough smoke that you could maybe convince yourself you’re seeing fire. Norv Turner has run Real NFL Offenses seemingly forever now. That should be improved and players should be put into a position to succeed. The defense… well, if nothing else, it looks like they’ll be able to pressure the QB. That seems to be a good thing.
– I miss Phil Dawson.
– I have a hard time mustering any outrage over JohnnyManziel selling his autograph for money. As a Buckeye fan, I guess I should hope that Texas A&M gets the book thrown at them (out of fairness!) but… meh. A famous person is making money off of being famous.
– Jay Bilas tweaked the NCAA this week by showing how if you search Manziel’s name at the NCAA shopping website, you’ll get his jerse (which totally isn’t really his jersey, just an A&M jersey with the number he wears). NCAA got so embarrassed they decided stop selling jerseys… on their site. Good. That’ll fix it. No more profiting off of college players for them.
– I’ve come to realize that I don’t care about PEDs in professional sports. I just don’t. I get why it’s a big deal in baseball, because the numbers are so sacred. So fine, go get A-Rod. Make him a pariah for doing things that… a ton of other people also did. But in basketball and football… no one cares. If PEDs can mean that we get to watch Kobe play later in his career or mean that we could get Kyrie to stay on the floor for 70+ games, then go ahead.
– That being said, the fact that the only NBA PED busts are from the 2009 Orlando Magic makes it the most underrated Cleveland sports misery moment from the last 10 years.
– We’d care more about Orlando cheating in 2009, but 1) this is a football town 2) we’ve blocked out any happiness or (or desire for happiness) from the LeBron-era Cavs. We’d care that the 2009 Orlando Magic was full of cheaters, but then that would mean… something good for LeBron4.
– You know who’s not on PEDs? Dion Waiters. Because if he were on PEDs, he probably wouldn’t have lost to me at bowling.
– If you weren’t aware, the Plain Dealers sports writers use the #Cavs hashtag every time they do a story about LeBron or the Heat. This gets annoying because, as we all know, LeBron James does not play for the Cavs.
— Ben Cox (@WFNYBen) August 8, 2013
— EJMaroun (@ejmaroun) August 3, 2013
“Right now I’m a Cavalier. This is where I am. All that future stuff, I’m not really worried about,” Irving said. “I’m living in the moment right now and I’m just trying to get better with the teammates I have now and make the playoffs for Cleveland. That’s the only thing I can do right now is give it my all as it stands right now and that future stuff, I’m not really worried about it.”
Right now. Living in the moment. As it stands right now….. yeesh.
– Players like Kyrie are in a rough spot with regards to questions like this. It’s unfair to ask them to do the Full Thome and swear you’ll be here for life. But at the same time, we’re so used to parsing every word/action from guys like LeBron5 that Irving’s realistic (non-)answers can be a cause for concern.
– I doubt Irving becomes the first player to turn down the max extension following his rookie deal (especially given his injury history). Players rarely leave money on the table. However, I also don’t think it’s unrealistic to worry that your potential Hall of Fame PG might not be thrilled with a career of lottery seasons and Cleveland winters. Cavs gotta win.
– If nothing else, it adds another wrinkle to the myriad of story lines surrounding the Cavs this upcoming season. And there’s a bunch. Potential season story lines are as follows: Mike Brown 2.0. Tristan’s shooting switch. Andrew Bynum. Andrew Bynum’s hair. Two Canadian players in the Cavs rotation. Varejao’s return from death. Oh, the media might discuss that LeBron guy. That’ll be a thing.
– I’m pretty pumped for this upcoming Cavs season, even though a lot of things could blow up in our collective faces. Bynum could implode and never play a game. Dion could turn out to be a bust. Tristan’s shot could get even worse. Varejao might never get healthy. Anthony Bennett may be to slow to play the wing and too small to play down low. Things could be rough. But even, if nothing else, we have Kyrie Irving: Year 3 to look forward to. It’s possible Irving could be good enough that, even if none of the other moves work out, we’re still watching a potential Hall of Famer hit his prime. That ain’t bad.
– Of course, absolute worst case scenario is none of the other moves work out AND Irving gets hurt. That would suck. Let’s not think about that (and even then, they could tank it up for the allegedly a historically great draft class).
Comic from XKCD.com.