Happy Tuesday, WFNY!
I wake up at 5:00 am every weekday morning, and I watch the local CBS affiliate news until 5:30 when I start getting ready for work. Why am I telling you this? Well, as a result, my TV is generally on CBS when I turn it on. On Monday nights, I usually start working on WWW around 8:00 pm. I turn my TV on to have in the background as I write, and so before I inevitably switch to the Indians game, “2 Broke Girls” is on.
I have to say, this might be the single worst show on TV. It’s nothing but rapid-fire snarky one-liners. And not particularly funny ones, either. I can’t imagine hanging out with people who talk to each other like the all the characters in this show. It is cartoon-y in all the worst ways. Every week I marvel at how this show is on.
I mean no offense to anyone who watches the show and likes it. We just have different tastes. But I will give it this, I often leave it on for about five minutes, unable to look away like a fascinating train wreck. Even though I thoroughly loathe the show, I keep watching, just trying to observe the never ending quips, each one worse than the last. It’s just funny to me the things that make it on TV and the things that are cancelled. It’s really all such a crapshoot.
Anyway, lets talk some sports…
The break heard ‘round the (NBA) world
I wasn’t watching the USA Basketball scrimmage Friday night, but suddenly my phone started blowing up with the news of Paul George’s injury. I knew he was hurt pretty badly and I knew they cancelled the remainder of the scrimmage, but I didn’t see video of the injury until Saturday morning.
I wish I hadn’t seen it. It’s definitely one of the most gruesome injuries I’ve ever seen. Even though it was a completely different injury, it still reminded me a lot of Shaun Livingston’s injury which, to this day, remains the worst basketball injury I’ve ever seen. The good news for George is that while the injury was horrible to the eyes (and I’m sure it didn’t feel too great, either), there was no ligament damage. He didn’t do any damage to his knee or his ankle/achilles. By most accounts, George should be able to fully recover and return the same player as he was before the injury.
Of course, the injury has turned into an issue of whether or not NBA players should be participating in USA Basketball. Some have suggested that we go back to college players. Others have suggested they make it an under-23 team. I find it a little funny that people are fine with college kids hurting themselves. Because that’s the thing…injuries just happen. They are a part of sports. It doesn’t matter who is participating, there’s always a chance something can happen.
Thankfully, the Team USA players have all committed to sticking with the team and fighting to make the 12 man roster for the FIBA World Cup tournament this summer. That includes Kyrie Irving. As a Cavs fan, yes, it’s scary to think about Kyrie possibly injuring himself at some point this summer playing with Team USA. But it’s not like there aren’t benefits to him making the team. I’m fully rooting for Kyrie to make the team, and not just because I’m a fan of him and want to see him play with Team USA. No, beyond that, I want him to make the team because I feel that playing with some of the best players in the world in a competitive environment will make Kyrie a better player.
Playing on the All-Star team is one thing, but the level of competition there is often pretty low. But USA Basketball is a little different. There’s something about the legacy of Team USA that brings out the best in players. The rumors of Michael Jordan’s scrimmages in practice with the original Dream Team are legendary, and the tradition of intense on-court battles continues to this day with Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Paul George playing “King of the Hill”. Being a part of Team USA pushes everyone to be their absolute best, and it’s an environment that I feel would be incredibly beneficial to Kyrie as preparation for playing on a team with LeBron James and Kevin Love. Oh, speaking of Love…
So it appears Kevin Love is going to be a Cavalier
Yes, something weird could still happen. Maybe Chicago or Golden State will still up their offers. Maybe the rumors are just one last desperate play by the Wolves to get teams to drive up Cleveland’s offer. But if the rumors are true, the Cavs and Wolves have a handshake deal in place to trade Love to the Cavaliers. It sounds like Andrew Wiggins will indeed be heading to Minnesota as the central piece of the deal.
People will probably never stop debating whether the Cavs should be trading Wiggins or not, and until the Cavaliers win a Championship, many will never stop pointing to this trade as being a bad idea. But the reality is, the Cavaliers are about to field a team that features LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving. It’s really hard to look at that core and not project it as an immediate top two team in the Eastern Conference.
But there are still some questions with this team. The Cavaliers’ front court is problematic. And now that the Cavaliers are about to give up some youth and flexibility to get Love, it’s hard to really see how they are going to ever address the center position in any kind of meaningful way. David Griffin is going to have to be extremely successful at finding players who can play later in the draft.
Another question is the injuries. Two of the Cavs’ “Big Three” have a history of injuries, and those are the two youngest of the three. Any injuries to Kyrie and/or Kevin in the near future could potentially make this trade a disastrous one. The Cavaliers seem to be building decent depth, and that depth could get a little better if the Cavaliers are able to sign Ray Allen and/or Shawn Marion. But for this thing to be a success, the core three need to stay intact. There’s no way for the Cavaliers to replace any of them if there is an injury. And that’s a little scary to me.
Now, having said all that, I am still 100% behind this trade. I just wanted to point out that it’s not the no-brainer that so many are making it out to be. There are some serious risks if the core three don’t develop together and gel the way we all hope they do. But this is a move the Cavaliers had to make.
The last time LeBron was in Cleveland, the team was never able to find another consistent All-Star to play with him. Sure, Z played in one All-Star game with LeBron and Mo Williams was an All-Star replacement, but it was LeBron and a bunch of really solid role players all designed to fit perfectly with LeBron’s skill set. This time is going to be dramatically different. Now LeBron will be playing with two other All-Stars. And depending on how well Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving play and how much fans still want to vote for Chris Bosh, the Cavaliers could potentially have three All-Star starters playing on the same team. In the perennially weak East, that should be good enough to win the Conference most years.
After four years of abysmal basketball in Cleveland, things are about to get incredibly fun again. Yes, it stinks to have to lose Andrew Wiggins. I wasn’t the biggest Wiggins fan pre-draft, but seeing him in Summer League, I began to see what everyone else sees in him. And he seems like such a good kid and the kind of person it would be awesome to watch grow and develop. But to get a player like Kevin Love, you’re going to have to give up something that hurts to part with. That’s just the nature of the business.
The bottom line is this, you can’t fret too much over losing a player that has never played a single NBA game in exchange for Kevin Love, a 25 year old All-Star in the prime of his career. If this deal happens as everyone says it’s going to, I won’t project the Cavs to make it to the Finals in year one. Neither Kyrie Irving nor Kevin Love have ever played in the playoffs. You typically have to lose once or twice in the playoffs to learn what it takes to win. But projecting forward over the next four or five seasons, the future looks incredibly exciting. I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.
A legacy frozen in time
Yes, I was whole-heartedly opposed to the Jim Thome statue. I thought the idea was preposterous and I felt it made the franchise look even more pathetic. I felt that it was a situation where a franchise and a fan base cared a lot more about a player than that player ever really felt about the franchise in return. Sure, Thome typically said the right things, but actions speak louder than words. Remember, Thome was drafted by the Indians, so he didn’t have a say in that. But after that, all of his actions and choices moved him away from the Indians franchise. Even when the Indians brought him back in the trade, he once again chose to walk away. When he retired, he didn’t choose to come back to the Indians in any way. Instead, he chose to take an executive job with division rivals Chicago White Sox. And sure, he signed a one day contract to retire as an Indian. It’s a nice gesture, but it’s purely symbolic. Today he is back in his role with the White Sox.
Yet I have to admit, after seeing the statue, I was somehow more ok with it. We can choose to remember all the times Thome has turned his back on the franchise, or we can choose to remember that pose. When I saw the statue, I was flooded with memories of what those 90s Indians teams meant to me. I have spent the last thirteen years or so chasing that nostalgia as a fan. The fact is, Thome is the Indians’ all time HR king, and I don’t think anyone is going to catch him any time soon. And that’s what the statue represents to me. A connection to an era lost forever.
As an Indians fan, I love what Bob Feller means to the franchise. And I really hope Larry Doby does indeed get his statue next. But I didn’t see those guys play. Other than my late grandfather mentioning them to me a couple times, I have no real connection to them. But I do to Jim Thome and that pose. It means something very real to me. I don’t have to forget that Thome handed over that jersey he once said would have to be torn off his back1. I don’t have to like that he is now working for the White Sox organization, even if it is close to his hometown. But with this statue, there is now an eternal link to one of the most important players on the most important team of my childhood. I just find something comforting in that.
Craig sort of touched on this briefly yesterday, so I’ll be brief here. But I just wanted to talk a quick second about the perception that Johnny Manziel is gaining momentum in the Browns QB competition. Obviously the Browns are not stupid. They knew damn well that giving Manziel some first team reps would create a circus of innuendo and projection. But even before Manziel got the reps, I just sort of got the feeling that Manziel was indeed gaining some momentum. I began hearing some whispers that perhaps the gap between Hoyer and Manziel wasn’t as wide as we believed.
I’m starting to wonder if the Browns aren’t hoping Manziel does enough to win the job Week One. I never thought it was even remotely possible, but with Josh Gordon’s likely suspension still lingering overhead and with not a whole lot of WR depth beyond Gordon, I just can’t help buy think that maybe Kyle Shanahan would prefer to use Manziel’s athletic ability and creativity to make some plays happen. If Gordon is available Week One, I think Hoyer would be the smart bet. But without Gordon, there are two ways of looking at it. You could trust Hoyer to not make many mistakes and be a safe, conservative offense and try to win games with defense and running the football. Plenty of teams have had massive success with that formula in NFL history. Or, you could give the ball to Manziel and see if he can spark some plays into the offense that Hoyer can’t.
I still think Hoyer is probably the smart bet to be the opening day starter, but the more I hear about camp, the more I’m softening on that stance. There is a real, tangible feeling to the momentum Manziel is generating. But training camp is long. Performance in preseason games will still be hugely important in deciding who starts for the Browns. I’m not really rooting for one guy over the other, I like things about both of them. I just want the Browns to pick the right guy for the right reasons.
I mentioned the HBO show The Leftovers a couple weeks ago after the first episode, and I wrote about my reservations about the show. Now that we are six episodes in, I am happy that my fears about the show were not met. I absolutely love this show.
Sure, it’s still bleak and can be quite depressing, but once again Damon Lindelof is doing a masterful job of blending storytelling technique with rich character development. Much like Lost’s first season, The Leftovers has an overarching mystery that hangs over everything happening in the show, but you find yourself often forgetting about the mystery and instead watching character interaction closely, trying to figure out their motivations, their secrets, what makes them all tic, and how they are all connected in the story.
My favorite episode by far was the third episode, “Two Boats and a Helicopter”, which focused solely on the preacher Matt Jamison. The wave of emotions and motivations for the character were fascinating. And the writers made us care so much about the character that, by the end of the episode when the (***SPOILER ALERT***) church is lost to the Guilty Remnant, we can feel Matt’s pain in such a real and visceral way.
In this week’s episode, I thought the writers again demonstrated extraordinary ability in showing us Nora Durst’s character path. One of the most famous lessons of storytelling in movies and television is “Show them, don’t tell them”. The writers showed us the depths of Nora’s painful existence and how she is coping with losing her entire family and trying to understand how to deal with her emotions. And then just when you start to wonder where the episode is going, the writers bring it back into the scope of the story’s canon by bringing Nora’s path into the arms of Wayne, one of the more enigmatic characters of the show thus far2.
I’m just a sucker for good storytelling and character development, and so far, The Leftovers is doing a great job of both. For some reason I was prepared not to like this show, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. While Game of Thrones is still probably my favorite show on TV, The Leftovers is quickly becoming the next show I am most excited about watching every week.
New music of the week
Finally, now that July is over, we can get back to good music coming out more consistently. This week, there a few albums I’m excited about, but my pick for new album of the week is Spoon’s “They Want My Soul”. Spoon is band that I have always liked, but not really loved. On all of their albums there are a handful of songs I really like and a handful that I don’t feel anything about whatsoever.
On “They Want My Soul”, I don’t feel Spoon are really doing anything dramatically different. It is still immediately recognizable as a Spoon album. What separates this album from their previous work, in my opinion, is the songwriting consistency. This is the first Spoon album where I absolutely love almost every song on the album. It is an incredibly focused and razor sharp album. It’s an album that feels like it has a purpose, and that’s what I love about it.
Other albums I’m looking forward to this week include:
- Tuatara – “Underworld”
- Spider Bags – “Frozen Letter”
- Naomi Punk – “Television Man”
Alright folks, that’s all I have this week. As always, thanks for reading and I hope everyone has an awesome week!
- does anyone know if Thome actually said this and what the exact quote is? I tried searching briefly for it, but all I found was about a thousand articles referencing the quote with slightly different paraphrasing [↩]
- I really, really hope there is an episode that shows us Wayne’s path, particularly his past. I would love to see his journey and how he discovered his unique gift and how he got to where he is now [↩]