In seven words or fewer, please explain your current Cleveland sports mood.
Gilbert: Hope with Myles Garrett and the Cavaliers.
Josh: At least we have LeBron and Cavs.
Bode: Sad panda about the Indians season ending.
Scott: Taking LeBron James for granted is unwise.
Jim: The Brantley news makes me punch walls.
Dave: The sky just fell.
If you could go out for a couple hours with any coach, then who would it be, where would you go, and why those choices?
Gilbert: I would take Bill Belichick to the college football championship game. I think Belichick is the greatest coach of my lifetime and one of the brightest minds in the history of the NFL. I would just love to pick his brain to see what he sees when watching a game and evaluating players. The college football championship game would be a great game to experience his knowledge.
Josh: I don’t want to copy Scott and say Pop, but I don’t know who else to go with, there’s just too many good choices. I’ll switch it up though. With everyone else being so genuine, I’ll go with Hue Jackson. We’d go somewhere out in the middle of nowhere in southern Ohio, talk for a little bit about football, and then I would leave his ass there so that he would somehow have no way to get back to Cleveland by Sunday and would therefore be fired. Problem solved!
Bode: Terry Francona and I are going to hit up a make your own sundae bar at the Golden Corral because we’re not about going fancy here. I’ll resist the urge to ask him about some of his decisions from the 2017 postseason and just sit back and listen to him weave tales about his years and years in MLB. I don’t know if he would talk more about life as a kid in the Indians clubhouse or give me cracks about Kevin Cash or create some tall tales about mystical Pop-A-Shot games, but I do know that I’d hang on every word.
Scott: Gregg Popovich, without question. I’m pretty sure he’s a wine drinker, so chilling on a patio in the middle of the offseason with a few bottles of cab (truth serum, people) would be the way to go. I’d want to talk theory, leadership, sustainability, the world, politics–crystal ball-type shit. I’ve heard about practices where the Spurs simply sit around and talk about current events and things they’ve recently read, and this is captivating to me. It would simply be the tip of the iceberg.
Jim: I would undoubtedly talk to Terry Francona, and since this is pure fantasy, I’d rake him over the coals about the 2017 MLB Playoffs. I’d probably take him to Slyman’s Deli for a corned beef sandwich…if he’s allowed to. I would hope to talk to him about his strategy, and ask him about the calls he made that worked in 2016, and connect them to the calls that didn’t work in 2017. I’d ask him what was different, and why the magic and feel worked one season, and didn’t the next. Oh, and you can bet your ass I’d be asking him how much input he has in roster decisions, and what kind of power he has with the front office. I’d love to listen to his dugout stories from when he was a kid in Atlanta…and you know…whatever else he’d want to talk about…if anything…after I asked him about his affinity for Michael Martinez.
Dave: Well, not Mike Pettine, because he’d bloody my nose. Not Mike Brown because he’d make weird faces at me. Not Urban Meyer because I don’t like cold pizza. Not Ty Lue, because I don’t want LeBron to tell us what to order. Not Hue Jackson because he’d be disappointed in what I ordered. Not Tito because he’d take us to a restaurant that used to be good, but hasn’t been up to par lately. Not David Blatt because he’d leave halfway through the meal. Maybe I’ll just eat alone.
Who is your favorite athlete to follow on the field or court of play? Why?
Gilbert: Yes, it has been only two games, but Myles Garrett has become my favorite player to watch on the field. I have on many occasions just locked onto Garrett for his stretch of plays, rather than where the ball is on the field. It has been amazing to finally watch a real game-changing player on the Browns defense. He has affected games even without getting to the ball by just his mere presence on the field.
Josh: So many options. But if I were to place a vine here as my answer, it would be the “LeBron James” kid. He’s just so talented and still (somehow) in his prime. Whether it’s scoring the ball or finding teammates at what seem to be impossible angles, No. 23 is incredible. I just need to learn to not take his greatness for granted because I’ll miss watching him play when he eventually retires. That’s my Cavs pick, but if I had to pick a Browns guy it would be Myles Garrett; Indians guy would be Corey Kluber, Jose Ramirez, or Francisco Lindor.
Bode: There are so many athletes from which to choose including several who have been dominant from the beginning, such as Francisco Lindor. But, I choose Carlos Santana. He has always had the ability to hit. His nomad quest in the field to find a position — and his willingness to work extraordinarily hard to ensure he would eventually find it- has endeared him to me over his seasons with the Tribe.
Scott: There are way, way too many. LeBron James tends to play the game of basketball at such an elevated level of skill and understanding, seeing lanes that don’t exist when he lets go of the ball, and doing things in the paint that very few in the last decade have been able to do. I don’t get to do it too often, but I’ve been captivated by Leo Messi. And on the football field, it’s a two-way tie between Odell Beckham Jr. and J.J. Watt–neither of whom I will be able to watch again until next season.
Jim: LeBron James…period. I remember in the 90s, after Michael Jordan returned to the Bulls thinking, “I need to watch every second of this guy play. He may be the best ever, and I don’t want to miss it, even though I hate his team, and well…him. With LeBron James, once he returned to the Cavs, I was thinking, “I need to watch every second of this guy play. He may be the best ever, and I don’t want to miss it…and he’s here…in CLEVELAND.” LeBron transcends the sport, and to have that in the city that I love is special.
Dave: Everyone else has said it already, but it is true. LeBron James is the best player of any sport I’ll ever see play live. Someone to tell your kids about.
Who is your favorite athlete to follow off the field or court of play? Why?
Gilbert: My favorite athlete to follow off the field is LeBron James. The massive diverse involvement he has in so many areas is just amazing to watch. Let’s start with his community activism. James has been one of the most giving and community active players on the planet and in history, in my opinion. He spends his money and words to help his community and the world. He has set up companies that are reaching in areas like entertainment, marketing, sports agency and some other different areas. His reach is just amazing to witness.
Josh: Damnit, I feel like I’m copying Scott now. But it has to be LeBron. The guy gets it. Whether it’s politics or anything else he speaks openly about, it’s almost a must-listen every time. It’s truly amazing how well-rounded, thoughtful, and intelligent LeBron is.
Bode: He is now a citizen of the United States of America. He has a fantastic foundation that helps deliver books and create reading programs among other humanitarian acts. He has survived multiple health scares including heart surgery and taking a line drive off of his face. He is one of the few athletes who has taken a true HomeTown Discount despite objections from his agent and the MLBPA. He is Carlos Carrasco.
Scott: There’s a pattern here. LeBron James. I wrote about it (albeit briefly) here. He’s a terrific social media follow, and the headlines he makes off of the floor are almost exclusively commendable. Guys like Richard Jefferson or Channing Frye may have funny moments on Snapchat. Joe Thomas has become a must-follow Twitter feed even for people who don’t follow or root for the Browns. But even then, they’re all fighting for second place behind a guy whose voice means so much outside of the game of basketball. Part of me wishes more athletes were like him. The rest of me realizes it’s not that they don’t want to be; it’s that they can’t be.
Jim: LeBron James…it’s that simple. He gives back. He’s an amazing father. He owns twitter, and…well…all social media. He pouts. He’s passive aggressive. He loves the people he loves, and ignores the people he doesn’t. He’s larger than life…sees the big picture, and a once in a lifetime dream of an athlete.
Dave: Everyone else has said it already, but it is true. LeBron James. His foundation is amazing. He truly loves his home town of Akron. I am thankful he came back to Cleveland because he was getting harder and harder to hate while he was…elsewhere.
What are you most looking forward to in Cleveland sports for late 2017 / early 2018?
Gilbert: I am most looking forward to the debut of Isaiah Thomas. It is expected that he could return sometime in January 2018. His arrival will add yet another great player to the loaded Cavaliers roster. His energy, work ethic and talent should be a huge boost to the lineup. His presence also should alleviate some of the problems that the current starting lineup has in terms of shooting. I just can’t wait to see if he can return to his previous level of performance and how he fits on the team.
Josh: Even though June isn’t considered “early 2018”, with the current state the Browns are in, the Cavs are the only thing us Cleveland fans can look forward to is the wine and gold. Whether it’s LeBron’s greatness, Isaiah Thomas’ eventual return, or how this team builds chemistry and gels on (hopefully) their way to a fourth-straight NBA Finals appearance, it should be exciting.
Bode: Myles Garrett is going to break the rookie sack record. Yes, despite missing the first four games of the season, it is still in play. His current pace projects to 18 sacks, and he only needs 14.5 to tie Jevon Kearse. Sure, one can note how early it is and that even a one game drought will make it tough for him. But, what else do we have for the Browns this year?
Scott: I do care about what Myles Garrett does, I love the NFL, and I do have some interest in winter meetings and what the Indians are able to do to improve upon last season’s roster, but it’s 100 percent Cavs and NBA from here until June. Cleveland fans are doing themselves a disservice to not watch every minute of basketball James plays, and not just because he may leave this summer, but because there will eventually be a time where he’s no longer playing for anyone and that will be a transitional moment in sports. My sports emotion, at least for the next six months or so, will be tied to the game of basketball.
Jim: I’m really looking forward to watching the Cleveland Cavaliers gel together as a team over the next few months, then welcoming Isaiah Thomas to the fold when he gets healthy. The past two years have been amazing, and this season has a real decent possibility to be as good, or bette as tonigh.
Dave: I have a strong, if not foolish, belief that DeShone Kizer will make strides during the rest of this Browns season towards becoming a good QB. The rookie brain is swimming when you are put in a position like he has been put. If you ever start to doubt him, dial up one of his press conferences or interviews. In addition to his size and arm strength, he is very very smart, and with time and proper coaching can be a great QB.
OK, let’s all answer one question on the Cleveland Browns. Should either the front office and/or Hue Jackson get one more year?
Gilbert: Hue Jackson should be fired with the way he has dealt with play calling, decision-making and overall coaching duties. I would, though, give the front office one more year. I think they have added quite a bit of talent through the draft, free agency and trade. Yes, they have struggled at the quarterback and wide receiver positions, which could end up being their downfall. But, I think the talent they have acquired is better than it has shown. I think the coaching has been a detriment to this talent and different coaching staff could shed a better light on what the roster holds.
Josh: I somewhat answered this question already, but Hue Jackson needs to go. Whether it’s his play-calling, the players not developing, or the way he conducts press conferences, Jackson should not be the head coach of the Browns for much longer. I’ll give the Harvard group another year in the front office, but it’s hard to see any positives in keeping Jackson around moving forward.
Bode: I loathe the idea of doing a reset after just two years when the team was torn down all the way down. If Hue Jackson was giving any indication that he can recover and continue to develop the players on the roster, then I would be fighting hard for him to stay especially considering how hard it will be to convince a worthy candidate to take over. However, he has not and I fear for the development of the youngest roster in the NFL. I would keep the front office though as I have always felt a front office deserves two head coaches. They have definitely had some big misses, but as Jared Goff and the St. Louis Rams have shown this year, sometimes a change in gameday philosophy is what is needed.
Scott: I’m going to defer to the end of the season here. If there isn’t substantial improvement and development from core players on this roster, Hue Jackson has to go. I’m not necessarily looking for wins as anything they’re able to do in that category would be fraudulent. But I do need development and progress from players who this team will be counting on during the years they are going to compete.
Jim: Hue Jackson makes bad calls, the front office has no balls, and the owner is the worst of all time. Who cares…fire them all, make them kinds…but point first at Jimmy Haslam…who is just the worst.
Dave: The front office should be kept in tact and maybe you add some pieces (Peyton Manning?) Hue Jackson at this point should be given an ultimatum. You can be our OC and do all of the play calling, or you can be our HC and let someone else call the plays, but you need to pick one of those jobs. Not both.