As a throwback to my old columns, I’ve giving Boot Up and Boot Down comments to several things that are on my mind in the sports world today.
Boot Up: Indians spending is a Boone! I never thought the Cleveland Indians would consider spending $60 million to go out and get Edwin Encarnacion. Never did that ever cross my mind as something that might plausibly occur, until it actually did. And now, even after that massive signing, the Indians went out and made another substantial move on the free agent market.
Last week’s $5.5 million signing of lefty reliever Boone Logan is a big deal. It’s a big deal because the MLB regular season is a long, long grind. It’s a big deal because, as we experienced during the 2016 playoffs, having a deep bullpen with matchup flexibility is invaluable. It’s a big deal because this was a huge, glaring need for the defending pennant champions that was met with a non-barebones contract.
Logan is an excellent LOOGY. The Indians were deeply missing a left-hander with his one-out specialist abilities. Kyle Crockett, the baby-faced youngster, never quite blossomed into that role in 2016. He still could turn into a decent reliever. But the time to act was now and the Indians front office delivered in a big way. With Andrew Miller’s overall awesomeness, the steady hand of Cody Allen, and the combined efforts of Logan, Bryan Shaw, Dan Otero, Zach McAllister, and whomever else might step up, this bullpen is absolutely loaded.
Boot Down: Where’s the lame duck Cavs season? Once the Cleveland Cavaliers broke Northeast Ohio’s championship drought, I had a hope the 2016-17 NBA regular season would be a bore. As fans, we all knew the Eastern Conference – even with Boston’s addition of Al Horford – would likely be no match for LeBron James yet again. Even if the Cavs just played on cruise control until the All-Star Break, they’d likely have no trouble and no drama whatsoever for a long, long while … right?
Well, it seems that maybe LeBron James’ teams might just be allergic to calm and tranquility. The Cavs are 36-15 following Wednesday’s win in Indiana, on pace for a 58-win season. That would be right on par with last year’s 57-win mark. They hold a three-game lead in the Eastern Conference over Boston, with Washington (!) and Toronto sitting tied for third at 5.5 games behind. But if you simply followed the Cavs season on Twitter and in the news, you’d probably think all was just #doom-worthy and they’d be fighting for their lives.
J.R. Smith remains out. The Cavs could use a legitimate upgrade over Kay Felder at backup point guard. LeBron should absolutely not be second in the league in minutes per game. The big man rotation remains fairly weak. There are trade rumors galore circulating around Twitter. These are issues – albeit easy issues I’ll take any day of the week over what took place from 2010 to 2014 – but they continue to get over-analyzed and over-exaggerated. Wasn’t this season supposed to be easy? Aren’t we all just waiting for a June rematch with Golden State? It feels so pained right now, so difficult. It’s a bit of a bummer on all fronts that it’s not so relaxing as I had hoped.
Boot Up: Archie Miller to Ohio State? I’m a University of Dayton alumnus, so by nature I’m a huge Archie Miller fan. In my role as the school’s newspaper sports editor, I was at his introductory press conference at Dayton back in spring 2011. In his short time since with the Flyers, Archie Miller has rejuvenated a very proud program and brought UD back into the national spotlight. But that run likely won’t last forever, just as his older brother Sean once jumped from Xavier to Arizona.
The University of Dayton, as a well-funded private institution, has the resources to keep the 38-year-old Miller in the short-term. He signed a contract extension last March through 2023 and is reportedly the highest-earning coach in the now-underwhelming Atlantic 10 Conference. Miller’s annual compensation is somewhere close to $2 million. Dayton’s resources, however, pale in comparison to what an Ohio State-esque school might offer soon.
And would you look at that? Thad Matta’s Buckeyes are struggling for yet another year in a row. His recruiting hasn’t been splashy enough on the national stage since the woebegone days of Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Evan Turner. Matta, who turns 50 in July, could be on the very serious hot seat this spring. And as much as it’d anger my inner Flyer, my Buckeye-loving self would be ecstatic about the idea of a possible fit. It’s all just speculation for now, but OSU would certainly be a school with the big bucks to flash over Archie’s way.
Boot Down: Shake Shack in Cleveland. Don’t get me wrong, Shake Shack is good. I enjoy it dearly. It’s a staple of my new life in New York City. I’ve legitimately had Shake Shack every time I’ve made it to Barclays Center. I’ve been to the original one, I’ve had Shake Shack at the airport, I’ve had it a lot. But the proposed Shake Shack in Cleveland … just sorta feels wrong, no?
I’ll be fascinated to see the pricing strategy for Northeast Ohio consumers. As an Akronite, I’m spoiled by Swenson’s and Skyway. There, you can likely get a milkshake, fries, a double hamburger and the thrill of the old-school drive-in experience for the price of just the double hamburger at Shake Shack. And will this long-discussed nuCLEus thing even work?1
It just feels sorta wrong, man. Give me six more Swenson’s locations surrounding Cleveland before we deal with Shake Shack in that territory. Stick with what works.
Some recent news tidbits that you may have missed:
- Exclusive: Stephen Curry responds to Trump-praising Under Armour boss [Marcus Thompson II / The Mercury News]
- Sources: Adrian Wojnarowski Is Close To Joining ESPN [Kevin Draper / Deadspin]
- Dan Gilbert offers Wayne County new jail, courts in swap for Gratiot site [Eric D. Lawrence / Detroit Free Press]
- Security drags Charles Oakley out of Knicks game in unreal scene [Fred Kerber / New York Post]
And, for your more detailed reading pleasure, some longer form pieces to enjoy:
- Baseball’s Ever-Expiring Secrets [Ben Lindbergh / The Ringer]
- Victor Martinez: Worst. Baserunner. Ever? [Sam Miller / ESPN.com]
- The most engaging NBA teams across Twitter & Facebook [Jan Boehmer]
- NFL ratings were down all season, and there’s no reason to think they’ll get better next year [Peter Kafka / Recode]