Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thomas, Rogers Make Pro Bowl

Congratulations to LT Joe Thomas and DT Shaun Rogers who will represent the Cleveland Browns at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii! The invitation is Thomas' 2nd consecutive and he will start the game at tackle for the AFC team. Rogers, acquired in a trade from Detroit, is returning to the Pro Bowl, his first as a member of the AFC. In addition, Josh Cribbs was named a 1st alternate for both kicker returner and special teamer spots. Phil Dawson was a 2nd alternate at kicker and D'Qwell Jackson and Eric Steinbach were each third alternates.

TYIB Results:

The This Year in Baseball results continue to come out this week and three categories Indians players were up for were announced today.

  • Grady Sizemore finished 5th (out of 10) for Defensive Player of the Year
  • Asdrubal Cabrera's triple-play finished 4th in Play of the Year voting
  • Victor Martinez's bucket-kicking incident finished as the 8th Oddity of the Year

Pro Bowlers to be Announced

With the Pro Bowl announcement only hours away, us Browns fans turn away from the disastrous Monday Night debacle and look to see if we will have any players on the team. The NFL.com crew selected a number of Browns to their "teams" if they had a vote:

3 chose Joe Thomas
1 chose Eric Steinbach
2 chose Shaun Rogers
1 chose Josh Cribbs

I was shocked to see so few choose Cribbs (with Leodis McCelvin and Leon Washington getting nods over him) and 0 choose Phil Dawson (Steven Gotskowski and Rob Bironis). While I feel that D'Qwell Jackson has had a great season, I can understand why Ray Lewis and James Farrior would have been selected ahead of him.

Stay tuned for the official Pro Bowl announcements.

Going back to that Monday Night Game, there were some milestones that were passed and here they are:

  • Jamal passed Jim Brown for 22nd in rushing attempts with 2,360 and Roger Craig for 26th in touches with 2,573
  • Cribbs moved into 18th in NFL history with 5,430 kick return yards
  • Brandon McDonald had the longest INT return in NFL regular season history that did not go for a touchdown (98 yards)
  • McDonald also became the first player to have an INT in each of 3 Monday Night games in 1 season

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chairman of the Boards

Friends, teammates root on Ilgauskas as he nears Cavs' rebound mark

by Mary Schmitt Boyer/Plain Dealer Reporter
Thursday December 04, 2008, 11:37 PM

Sometime in the next few games, an errant shot will clang off the rim and Zydrunas Ilgauskas will stretch out his long arms to retrieve a milestone, one that many -- including Ilgauskas -- never thought would come.

The Cavaliers much-loved, much-injured veteran center needs 23 rebounds to surpass Brad Daugherty's franchise record of 5,227. Whether it comes at home or on the road, whether the game is stopped or goes on uninterrupted, it will be a nearly miraculous achievement, considering all the pain Ilgauskas has been through -- physical and emotional, professional and personal, public and private.

"It was really worth it," Ilgauskas said with a small smile.

Those who know him best and who have been with him through all the ups and downs since the Cavs made him the 20th pick in the 1996 draft will celebrate the accomplishment not because they think Ilgauskas is such a great player, but because they think he's such a great person.

"No one will be cheering louder," said Cavaliers minority owner Gordon Gund.

"It makes my heart swell," said his agent, Herb Rudoy.

"You know he's my man," said former General Manager Wayne Embry, who drafted him.

"It's indescribable what type of person he is," coach Mike Brown said. "I don't have the words for it. That's how good a guy he is."

Said former roommate Scott Brooks, "He's a great man. Cleveland's lucky to have had him for all the years he has played. He's a good player and he has a great heart."

Mike Brown: "(Ilgauskas) just makes my life and my job easier because of what type of guy he is. We're very lucky as an organization to have him as part of this thing, not only are we lucky, but the city of Cleveland, the state of Ohio is lucky because he's a class act for us. I feel like I've coached some very good professionals. He's got to be in the top three."
A gentle giant with a wicked dry sense of humor off the court, the 7-foot-3 Ilgauskas never shies from mixing it up on the court, whether it's tangling with opponents like Detroit's Rasheed Wallace or ordering around lax teammates like Shawn Kemp. Such actions belie a soft touch who has been known to not only autograph a ball for a sick child but deliver it in person.

Yet when describing him, friends and teammates most often use the word tough. There is no other way to explain the challenges he went through to get to this point.

"Knowing the great difficulties he's had, I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined he could reach this pinnacle in his career," Rudoy said. "I am so emotional about this because 1) he's an absolutely fine person; 2) he's an absolutely fine person and 3) he's an absolutely fine person."

Rudoy first met Ilgauskas when he was about 16.

"My partners in Europe signed him," said Rudoy, one of the first agents to court European players. "He came into my office in Chicago, a big, tall skinny kid who was almost shy."

A former soccer and volleyball player, Ilgauskas had gone through a recent growth spurt and decided to concentrate on basketball, his country's national sport.

"It still is like a religion back home," said Ilgauskas, who had started out as a point guard. "We say all the boys have to play basketball in Lithuania, and if they're not good enough they go on to do smaller things -- like [be] doctors and lawyers."

At that point, he never envisioned playing in the NBA.

"It was one thing playing in Lithuania and being a good player," he said. "But the NBA would show one game a week back home and you'd see highlights of guys taking off from halfcourt and doing all this crazy stuff and you're sitting in your living room going, 'There's no way.'"

His plan was to finish his senior year in high school at a prep school on Long Island, N.Y., and then enroll in an American college like Georgia Tech or Alabama.

"I flunked my senior year in high school in Lithuania on purpose so I could come back to the states and finish my senior year in high school," he said. "My English wasn't good enough to go straight to college."

But after a downturn in the economy in Lithuania, his mom, an engineer who suffered from diabetes, and his dad, a bus driver, lost their jobs. So Ilgauskas signed a contract to stay home in Kaunas and play professionally for the Atletas Basketball club in order to take care of them and his sister, Zivile, seven years his junior.

Instead of attending a U.S. college, Ilgauskas had to be content playing for his national team in exhibition games against schools like Kentucky. Of course, when he put up 26 points, 19 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 2 steals against the Wildcats in a 114-81 loss on Nov. 22, 1994, people started to take notice. Well, some people anyway. Former Cavs coach Mike Fratello remembers calling his friend Rick Pitino, the Kentucky coach at the time, who said his team had won by 33 points and none of the opponents had stood out.

Former Cavs coach Mike Fratello: "It's a tremendous accomplishment when you realize the frustrations he went through as a very young player. This wasn't late in his career. This was early on. He hadn't even had a chance of tasting success. The best years hadn't come yet. ... Any time you become the leader of any franchise in a key statistical area that helps winning, it sets you apart. ... I'm not sure he has gotten as much notoriety or respect as he perhaps deserves, although I think there are reasons for that. He has a guy on his team who's not a bad player named James. But he's not a guy who's looking for that. He's just happy being an important part and doing what his job is."
But when Ilgauskas applied for early entry into the 1995 NBA draft, Minnesota Timberwolves assistant general manager Kevin McHale was all over him. Ilgauskas had a couple of impressive workouts in Minnesota but, in what would become an all-too-common occurrence, his right foot started to hurt. In fact, it was broken and he wound up withdrawing from the draft and having two surgeries, which caused him to miss the 1995-96 season.

He came back strong the next spring, and reapplied for early entry into the 1996 draft, which included Allen Iverson (No. 1), Kobe Bryant (No. 13) and Steve Nash (No. 15.) Minnesota had the No. 5 pick, which it used on Ray Allen. Cleveland had the No. 12 pick, which Embry used on Wright State's Vitaly Potapenko because he was confident he could still get Ilgauskas at No. 20. It was the only time Embry used a first-round pick on a player he had not seen play a game in person.

"We watched tape of him playing at Kentucky," Embry said. "He was the best big man in the game. You could see his assets. He was playing more low post than he is now. But down low he had great footwork with a nice shooting touch. He was way ahead of the game there. You can correct deficiencies and help players overcome their weaknesses, but one thing you can't teach is 7-3. He was a big gangly kid who knew how to play basketball.

"Once you got to know him, you fell in love with him."

Unfortunately, he broke his right foot again and missed what should have been his rookie season. He did, however, begin to endear himself to players, coaches and staff members with practical jokes and hilarious escapades.

Brooks remembered a fender-bender when Ilgauskas was learning to drive. Gund remembered a bawdy song Ilgauskas and Potapenko sang at the team Christmas party. And no one can forget his first Thanksgiving when, having overheard so much slang in the locker room that he asked someone to "pass the #$%& mashed potatoes."

The laughs were short-lived, though. After an outstanding rookie year in his second season with the team, in which he averaged 13.9 points and 8.8 rebounds and was named MVP of the Rookie Challenge and a member of the all-rookie team, he played just five games in the strike-shortened 1998-1999 season before breaking a bone in his left foot. The injury cost him the 1999-2000 season as well.

He looked to be back on track at the start of the 2000-01 season and was averaging 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds as the team got off to a 15-8 record. Then came a game at Miami on Dec. 22, 2000.

"That was the lowest of the low," Cavs assistant coach/strength and conditioning coordinator Stan Kellers said, his voice cracking even now, eight years later.

"That whole year my foot wasn't hurting but it was achy," Ilgauskas recalled. "Looking back, I just had a bad feeling in my mind that something bad was going to happen. Against Miami, I made a shot and landed on my foot and felt really a sharp pain. My foot went numb for a couple seconds. I never felt like that before. That scared me. Right then I knew, that was it. I took myself out of the game. I didn't need any MRIs or anything. I just knew."

Danny Ferry was a player at the time, and one of Ilgauskas' good friends.

The left foot was broken again. A devastated Ilgauskas contemplated retirement.

"I didn't know if I had it in me to keep going," he said. "The lows were just too low. I put in so much work, and everything was just going down the drain. I spent more time on crutches in those years than walking on my own two feet. For me, just walking without crutches was a luxury. I had these permanent marks on my sides from the crutches. The hardest part was watching the games, just sitting there, sitting there, sitting there, watching, watching, watching."

After about six weeks, Ilgauskas decided to have one more surgery -- his fifth in six years -- a radical reconstruction by Dr. Mark Myerson in Baltimore.

"I was 25 at the time," he said. "If I was 35, the decision would have been made for me. But I just didn't want to look back at my life and feel like I missed something or quit too early. I wanted to be forced out.

"My biggest thing was, 'If I go down now, I'll be one of the biggest busts in Cleveland sports history.' Or at least Cleveland Cavs history. I wouldn't be there with [Art] Modell or anybody else, but seeing this promising career going down the drain ..."

So he had the surgery and then went through months of grueling rehab, working out with Kellers and a host of trainers, doctors and physical therapists. He was the perfect patient, following every instruction to the T. When he wasn't working out, he was wrapped in ice. He carried a bottle of Advil in his pocket, popping the pills constantly. Then one day during training camp in 2001, he woke up and the pain was gone.

"It was weird," he said.

He played 62 games that year, 81 in each of the next two years and 78 in each of the three years after that. He was named an All Star by the Eastern Conference coaches in 2003 and 2005. He played 73 games last year. Friday night against Indiana he will tie Hot Rod Williams for third place in games played with the franchise at 661, just 62 behind all-time leader Ferry.

It's no coincidence that with Ilgauskas healthy, the Cavs have reached unprecedented heights. Of course, the fact that he's playing with LeBron James also has something to do with that.

"I have enjoyed the basketball games so much more," Ilgauskas admitted.

Still, there was more tragedy. With the Cavs in the middle of their most successful season ever, resulting in a trip to the 2007 NBA Finals, Ilgauskas and his wife Jennifer lost the twins she was carrying. They would have been their first children.

The entire team mourned for their friends and it was no accident when James sought out Ilgauskas and wrapped him in a bear hug after the team won the Eastern Conference championship.

"He means a lot to me, honestly," James said. "When you go through adversity like he went through, you can always look to a guy like that to help you get through certain things. To have him go through the last few seasons winning, I think has added a little happiness to his life."

More than a little. With one year left on his contract, Ilgauskas, 33, doesn't know how much longer he'll play. He does know that he'll always have a home in Cleveland with friends who love him.

One of those friends is Kellers, who will be looking on emotionally when that rebounding record falls one of these days.

"It'll be amazing," Kellers said. "It's a quantifier of what he's been through. All of us who have lived through this with him realize what a great accomplishment it is. This is a statistical validation of what we known he's done.

"I'm sure everybody in the organization will be thrilled. I'm sure my feelings will be a little unique because of my length of time with him. We'll all have our own certain memories and emotions."

Kellers did not rule out the possibility that a tear or two would be shed.

"But I can't say that," he said with a grin. "I'm the strength coach. I'm supposed to be strong."


Z is likely the classiest Cavalier of all-time, and maybe will end up being the greatest. Despite only 2 All-Star Appearances (should be at least 4 due to ridiculous fan voting for an aging Shaq and Rasheed Wallace), he is likely going to end up being the franchise leader in games played, 2nd in scoring and free throws attempted and made, (behind Lebron), blocked shots and all three rebounding categories.

Stay strong, Z. Here's hoping we win you a championship!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Crennel Takes Blame for Losses

Steve King, Browns.com Staff Writer


Following Sunday's loss to the Texans and then again on Monday afternoon in the routine player media availability, Browns players insisted that it was them, and not head coach Romeo Crennel, who should be blamed for the Browns disappointing 4-7 start to the season.

When asked what the players taking responsibility for the disappointing season means to him, Crennel said, "It means that they are incorrect because I am the head coach, and the buck stops at my desk. It is my charge. If we don't win games, it's on me.

"We've got coaches who work very hard to try to get a good plan, try to put it out there and try to get the guys to execute, and when they team doesn't play well, it falls on the head coach. Just like when the offense doesn't do well, a lot of times, it falls on the quarterback, rightly or wrongly. In this position, the scrutiny goes with it."

He later repeated, "I'm the head coach, and the buck stops here. When we go out there and we don't play well, I don't do well. When we play well, I do well. That's the way it has been all along."

It's the same thing he says when he discusses the state of the team with Browns owner Randy Lerner.

"I tell him that this team hasn't lived up to expectations," Crennel said. "We are not as consistent as we need to be. We are working to try to be what everybody wants us to be, but it hasn't happened the way we expected it to happen. I tell him we are going to keep fighting, and we are going to try to win a game.

"He is saying that he appreciates that attitude. He knows that there are no guarantees in this business. Every game is different, and you have to line up and play it. That was his indication."

Those are similar to Crennel's conversations with general manager Phil Savage.

"We talk on a regular basis," he said. "We know where we're at, 4-7, which is not good enough. Going forward from that, we've got a game on Sunday (against the Indianapolis Colts at Cleveland Browns Stadium) that we need to try to win. Then after that, we have other games we need to try to win, and, one by one, they become the main focus.

"If we can win a game on the field, then the organization looks better. That is what we're going to try to do."

I have yet to get on the "Fire Crennel" bandwagon mostly because I respect him as a man and quotes like this reaffirm my feeling. Romeo is a good man and the players love him, I just don't know if he is getting the job done. When does the responsibility lie on the assistant coaches or the players? Who knows. We will see what happens this offseason if Romeo survives the ax. I think we need to finis

Monday, November 3, 2008

Quinn is Starter; Jurevicius Not Done Yet

Browns move Quinn into starting lineup, replacing inconsistent Anderson at QB

Updated: November 3, 2008, 5:46 PM ET

BEREA, Ohio -- Quarterback Derek Anderson has been benched by the Cleveland Browns, who will start popular backup Brady Quinn on Thursday night against the Denver Broncos.

The switch was confirmed Monday by the team, just hours after coach Romeo Crennel said he had no plans to make a change.

Anderson, who has been inconsistent this season, threw a costly interception that was returned for a touchdown in the final minutes of Sunday's 37-27 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The pick prompted Browns fans to begin chants of "Brady! Brady!" for Quinn, the former Notre Dame star who has thrown just eight passes in two seasons.

I am completely on board with this move and think Brady is our franchise player we have been desperately searching for since 1999.

Browns WR Jurevicius, out with staph, hopes to return for '09

Updated: November 3, 2008, 4:06 PM ET

BEREA, Ohio -- Joe the Football Player isn't ready to give up the game he loves.

Cleveland wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, forced to sit out the 2008 season because of a serious staph infection in his surgically repaired right knee, plans to come back next season for his beloved Browns.


"I'm not giving up," he said. "I'm playing next year. It's not, I'm going to try. I am playing next year."

The passionate 33-year-old, who grew up in the Cleveland area and attended Browns games as a kid, revealed Monday that he has undergone five procedures in the past 10 months to clean out staph, which he contracted following arthroscopic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in January.

Jurevicius is one of five known Browns players to get staph in the past three years, an outbreak that led to the team calling in infectious control specialists for assistance. Kellen Winslow recently had a second bout with staph, and the tight end was briefly suspended by the team for criticizing its handling of his hospitalization.

Jurevicius plans to have another operation on his knee to remove scar tissue. But instead of going back to the Clinic, he'll have his next procedure performed by Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo. Jurevicius doubts that he'll need microfracture surgery, an operation that involves drilling holes in the kneecap to promote cartilage growth and requires a longer rehab period.

Jurevicius said he contracted staph within 1½ weeks of his surgery. He isn't sure where he got it.

"I'm not a doctor," he said. "I'm not here to point fingers, whether it was the Cleveland Clinic or the Browns' facility. All I know is that I contracted a staph infection and wasn't happy with it. It is what it is. I battled, still have some work to do and we go from there, but now is not the time for me to point fingers."

He was asked about his theory on why the Browns have had so many staph cases.

"There's been some numbers here and it does make people open their eyes," he said. "I just feel that for me personally, I've seen enough of the Cleveland Clinic in terms of the amount of times I've been in there. For me, I would personally just like to start with a clean slate, a fresh chalkboard and write the rest of the story up. That's the reason I plan on going out to Vail. But I will be back here after that. But in terms of the number of staph infections, it makes you open your eyes."

Jurevicius, who also played for the New York Giants, Tampa Bay and Seattle, signed as a free agent with the Browns in 2005. It was his dream to end his career in Cleveland, and he's determined to see it through. Sitting out has been difficult for Jurevicius, who has found driving to Browns games extremely difficult.

As he passes fans tailgaiting -- some of them wearing his No. 84 jersey -- before games, Jurevicius remembers Sundays spent with family and friends.

"I take the long way to the stadium every game because my memories are of the Muni Parking Lot," he said. "When you see No. 84s out there, when you see the smoke from the barbecues, or people fighting, that's what I miss. It tears me up inside."

His teammates were not surprised to hear that Jurevicius is planning a comeback.

"He's a pro's pro and truly a leader on this team," kicker Phil Dawson said. "You can take a poll of this locker room and every last person would tell you that they respect Joe Jurevicius. I appreciate the fact that the guy wants to come back and play with us. He's a hometown guy and we can all learn a lesson from his passion and his commitment. I'll be really excited when he gets back in that helmet."

Jurevicius wants to leave the NFL on his own terms, not because of an infection he was powerless to stop. When he's done, he hopes to walk off the field at Browns Stadium in his uniform and wearing his orange helmet with daughters Caroline and Ava under each arm.

"I don't want them to see me give me up," he said. "I could take the easy way out and say I'm done. I'm going to take the tough road and I'm not done.

"I'm going to play."

From: ESPN.com

This man is an inspiration and a gift to the city of Cleveland. Hopefully, Quinn will lead the team to a Super Bowl in his final season next year!

Friday, October 31, 2008

When Is Our Turn?

Another season ends, another "curse" or "drought" ends. In 2004, it was the Red Sox. In 2005 it was those other Sox. The Giants broke an 18 year old Super Bowl drought this past season and the Colts won their first as a franchise since 1971. Just this past year, the Celtics won their first title since the days of Larry Bird and the Phillies ended a drought of 25 years without a major sports title in the city.

With all these long awaited droughts and streaks ended, seemingly year after year, a Cleveland sports fan can only ask himself: when is our turn? When will we finally break through and get what we have been longing for for 44 years and over 13,000 combined contests? When will the stars align, for just one season, a few months' hot streak? When will we finish off teams on the ropes, come back from a deficit to win a crucial series, get the big hit (or send the runner home), knock down the big shot or make the big kick?

Plenty of our "cast-aways" have won titles, some the very next year. This year, it was beliguered Phillies manager (and former Tribe skipper) Charlie Manuel, along with former Indian reliever Chad Durbin to hoist a trophy. With the Celtics it was Scot Pollard. The Red Sox won two titles with former Indians Coco Crisp and Alex Cora. Offensive lineman Shaun O'Hara with the Giants was a Butch Davis cap-casualty. I could go on and on. Why do players find more success outside the land of the Key Bank than within? Is it the lake, the people, the weather, or something more?

No city with three major pro sports teams has ever seen a combined drought like this, and no one other than Cleveland ever will. It is a curse, a hex. Something super natural that cannot be explained. From the Fumble, the Shot, Red Right 88, the Drive, The Sweep, The Comeback or The Collapse including such colorful heroes or goats (depending on whose side you are on) as Jose Mesa, Edgar Renteria, John Elway, Michael Jordan, Earnest Byner, Brian Sipe, Tim Duncan/Tony Parker, Tommy Maddox, CC Sabathia and JD Drew, Clevelanders have had their share of heartbreak, and enough leftovers to last a millenium. What have we done to deserve this fate? No one knows. But I do know one thing: when we finally break through and win our first championship since the 1964 Browns, it will be more satisfying for our city than for any other in the world.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lee Denied of Pepsi Clutch Award

On Wednesday, October 22nd at 7:00 on ESPN, Major League Baseball and Pepsi announced the 2008 Pepsi Clutch Performer of the Year. The winner was not the Indians' Cliff Lee, who I have campaigned for on the 'Pad for the last few weeks, but former Indian pitcher CC Sabathia.

Wait a minute?! C(hoke) C(hoke) Sabathia won a "clutch" award?!?! This is laughable for anyone who has followed Sabathia's career, particularly in the playoffs. Sure, Sabathia was money for the Brewers down the stretch, helping lift them into the playoffs, but he was rocked to the tune of 5 ER in only 3.2 innings in the playoffs for the Brew Crew, helping play them out of the chase for November. Where was "Mr. Clutch" for the Indians this season when he lost his first three starts (with an ERA of 13.50) on his was to a 6-8 AL season as the "ace" of a last-place club. Did the pressure of last year's playoffs get to Sabathia to start this season? In fact, last year for the Tribe in the playoffs, Sabathia came up small yet again with a 1-2 record and 8.80 ERA, including a crushing defeat in one of the Indians' three clinching chances to make it to the World Series.

Sure, CC may light it up when the lights are off or even dim, but put the spotlight, the glow and glamor of the playoffs and he crumbles like a pack of playing cards 289 pounds lighter than him. The fans of baseball (largely influenced by the media, no less) may think CC was the "Clutch" player of the season, but how can you take the award from someone who never lost?

Cliff Lee put up a 22-3 record for the same team Sabathia went 6-8 for. He had an ERA of 2.54 and halted numerous Indians team losing streaks with solid performances. Even in his three losses he never put up numbers worse than 5.2 innings and 5 runs and pitched 5 complete games and 3 shutouts.

Lee was the clutchest man in baseball this year, but that's OK. Let the Yankees or Dodgers sign Sanathia this offseason. He can get them 20 wins and maybe a playoff birth, but will never take a team much further. But then again, is that what clutch is all about? Going all the way? Cliff didn't have the opportunity to do that this season (by absolutely no fault of his own) but I look forward to him getting the chance next year.


Friday, October 17, 2008

ESPN Rates Anderson "Gunslinger"

Shortly after a near-flawless performance on Monday Night Football against the New York Giants, Derek Anderson was mentioned an in ESPN.com's Page 2 feature. This feature rated all 32 starting NFL quarterbacks on a +50 to -50 scale from "gunslingers" to "game managers." Anderson received a gunslinger rating of +18 with this description: A 2007 season of 29 TDs and 19 INTs? A liberal studies major at Oregon State? Doesn't sound very conservative to me.

Brett Favre was rated the ultimate gunslinger with a +50 rating and Matt Cassell was the ultimate game manager with a -50 rating.

See the rest of the ratings here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

This Year In Baseball: VOTE TRIBE

Six different Tribe players are up for awards this season in MLB.com's This Year in Baseball Awards.

The players and categories are:

Best Starter: Cliff Lee
Defensive Player of Year: Grady Sizemore
Performance of the Year: Kelly Shoppach (5-6 3 2B, 2 HR, 3RBI vs. DET July 20)
Play of the Year: Asdrubal Cabrera's unassisted triple play
Oddity: Victor Martinez gets his foot stuck while kicking a bucket (May 21 vs. CWS)

You can vote for these Indians players at MLB.com or by clicking this link.


Thank You, Eric Snow

I just wanted to take the time to thank Eric Snow, who retired this week, for his hard work, classiness, "sudo-coaching", work in the Cleveland community and contributions on the floor while with the Cavaliers.

It seems like so long ago that he was battling Jeff McInnis for the starting PG spot but yet just yesterday that he was one of 8 players to lead our Cavs to a short-handed win over Washington last season, his last professional start.

Eric finished his Cavs career with 267 games played, 1,035 assists and 208 steals. His assist-to-turnover ratio was an excellent 3.17/1. Snow's contributions in the playoffs with Cleveland ranked him among the top 15 in Cavaliers history. He finished his career 11th in Cavs history in games played with 32, 14th in minutes with 652, and 9th in assists with 65.

In Snow's 14 year NBA career, he played in 846 games with career averages of 6.9 ppg and 5.0 apg. His 4,245 assists rank him a solid 71st in NBA history and 846 games put him 224th. He started his career with 3 seasons in Seattle followed by 7 in Philadelphia where he teamed with Allen Iverson, both in the prime of their careers, to form a formidable backcourt. The duo reached the NBA Finals in 2000, a place he would reach again in Cleveland in 2006. Eric finished his career with four years with his home franchise and will be missed both on and off the court. Snow was set to be the longest-tenured Cav heading into this season other than Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mort Believes

As I clicked on ESPN's Week 6 NFL Picks, I bit my tongue as I prepared to see a slew of the word "New York Giants" across the board. But -- GASP -- someone picked the Cleveland Browns to upset the Super Bowl Champs on Monday Night Football. That man, Chris Mortenson, seen at 2:45 in this video is going to look very smart come Monday at around 11:30 PM...

See Mort's shocking pick for yourself, at this link.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tribe Seeks Revenge

From Clevelandindians.com, written by Anthony Castrovince

BOSTON -- A smile creeps across Jhonny Peralta's face when he thinks about the final weekend of the 2005 season.

Not because of the way it ended, mind you. He will never smile about that.

This smile relates to what could happen to the White Sox this weekend at U.S. Cellular Field.

Revenge, anyone?

"Maybe we could do something to them," Peralta said through that smile. "You never know."

You know how '05 ended. The Indians had a chance to reach the postseason for the first time in four years, but the White Sox, winners of the American League Central, swept them on the Tribe's own turf in the season's final three games. And so Cleveland sat at home in October, its 93-win season rendered moot.

The lasting image of that series is White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen grasping his throat -- his little way of telling the Indians that they'd choked.

It's been three years, and only a handful of faces (Peralta, Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee and Rafael Betancourt) remain in the Tribe clubhouse from the list of '05 regulars.

But as the White Sox, embroiled in a brutal battle with the Twins for division supremacy in these waning days of the regular season, fight for their postseason lives, the Indians, who close out '08 with three games at U.S. Cellular, can have a say in how the AL Central shakes out.

"Knowing they're trying to make the playoffs might boost us a little bit," Lee said. "That gives us a little more momentum. But we're going to play hard and try to win no matter who we play."

Lee's playing days might be done for '08. He's been bothered this week by a stiff neck, and the Indians might hold him out of Sunday's regular-season finale if it turns out to not have any bearing on the postseason setup.

Peralta, on the other hand, will most definitely be playing. In fact, with Andy Marte's season over, he is expecting to get the start at third base on Friday night.

He's hoping that the Indians can put an exclamation point on a season that fell short of expectations.

"We have to play hard," he said. "We have to try to win every game."

That's what the White Sox did in '05. And if the Indians have their way this weekend, the choke joke will be on Chicago.

Picture added by me

Friday, September 12, 2008

10th Time's the Charm

For one night, everything went right for Tim Couch. The offensive line protected him, the running game was clicking, the receivers were making all the catches and the defense stepped up big. On that one shining night, Sunday Night no less, the Cleveland Browns went into Pittsburgh and won 33-13 and Couch (2 TD, 0 INT, 1 rush TD) was a hero.

That seems so long ago, doesn't it? That's because for a number of reasons (porous defense, absent running game, paper line, putrid QB play), the Cleveland Browns have lost the last 9 games with their archrivals from the Steel City since that fateful night. Now is the time for redemption. The Browns will get another crack at Pittsburgh, number 10, this Sunday night (sense a deja-vu?) in front of a national audience all wondering the same thing: is this the time? Is this team for real? The Browns will need to step up big as it seems all odds are against them. The Clevelanders are coming off a 28-10 beatdown at the hands of Dallas while Pittsburgh was on the giving end of one of their own, smashing the helpless Texans. The Browns are hurt (see below) and the Steelers (as usual) are almost completely healthy. It's been almost 8 years since we have defeated Pittsburgh at home and in a recent CBS fan poll, 93% of fans picked the Steelers to win.

I'm not sure what to expect or what to hope for, but this seems to be as good a time as any. We are hungry: the fans, the players, Phil, Romeo and perhaps most of all, Randy Lerner, a man who deserves more for what he has put into this team than the team has given him. The Steelers are content, the "fat cats" of the division and they have little reason to get fired up. After all, many of the Steelers' players and fans have declared that this is no longer a rivalry due to the team's dominance over the last 5 years. I don't know if we can do it, but I do know that we have to. There is no other option.


As usual, the Browns have a host of injuries heading into Sunday night's game with the Steelers, here's a brief recap:

S Sean Jones, OUT (knee surgery)*
TE Martin Rucker, OUT (knee surgery)
KR Josh Cribbs, QUESTIONABLE (ankle)*
LB Kris Griffin, PROBABLE (elbow)
G Rex Hadnot, QUESTIONABLE (knee)*
S Brodney Pool, QUESTIONABLE (concussion)*
OL Ryan Tucker, DOUBTFUL (hip)*
WR Donte Stallworth, DOUBTFUL (quad strain)*
LB Kamerion Wimbley, PROBABLE (groin pull)*

WR Joe Jurevicius, PUP (out until Week 7)
OL Lennie Friedman, IR (out for season)
CB Daven Holly, IR (out for season)
OLB Antwan Peek, IR (out for season)*

*projected starters

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Simmons: Cleveland Will Stink

I'm posting this here as a reminder this season when we make our presence known throughout the league. Call it "blog lockerroom bulletin board material."

From ESPN.com, Bill Simmons

Prediction No. 4: Cleveland will stink.

I'm not a big fan of this formula: Artificially high expectations + too many nationally televised games (five in all) + brutal schedule + too much luck last season (what are the odds of them getting 32 games from Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards again?) + brewing QB controversy + horrible preseason = Yikes.

Also, their two biggest offseason moves were fundamentally illogical: Trading for Shaun Rogers and keeping Derek Anderson. In the salary-cap era, you can't keep Anderson (who had two good months and tailed off) after dealing a future No. 1 and committing all that money to Brady Quinn. It's like drafting QBs in the first two rounds of a fantasy draft -- yeah, you can do it, but it never works. Why not trade Anderson for two draft picks and back the guy who you loved so much a year before? And why compound the error by trading your 2nd and 3rd round picks plus a valuable cornerback (Leigh Bodden) for expensive and possibly shaky defensive linemen (Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers). That's a swing of four draft picks plus Bodden! Didn't they see what happened with the Giants last year? If you made a "How to win the Super Bowl" formula, would "Pay two quarterbacks big money" and "Don't get anything from your draft" be two of the pieces? OF COURSE NOT!!! On the bright side, "taking the Browns to the Super Bowl" remains my favorite euphemism for making a doody.

Also from ESPN, why Rick Reilly thinks that Cleveland is a Browns town while ripping on the Cavs:

CLEVELAND Browns. Name one other city that lost a team and had the league give it back! Name, uniforms, everything! If the Cavaliers left, two janitors might look up.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Buffalo Plays Last Game as Tribe Affiliate

A 9-6 loss to the Rochester Red Wings on Monday was not only the end of a season for the Buffalo Bisons, but also the end of an era. For 14 seasons, the industrial New York city was the host of the Cleveland Indians' AAA farm team and what a marriage it was. Bisons fans didn't quite have the final season with the Indians they wanted going 66-77 for 4th place in their 5 team division, but they did go out with a bang, getting to see Aaron Laffey, Travis Hafter, Josh Barfield and Victor Martinez play for the last 10 or so games of the season. However, with multiple division championships and an International League Title in 2004, there were many great moments for the fans in Buffalo, but those will not be gone. Buffalo fans will still have a AAA team in 2009, likely the affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, while the Indians will move closer to home in Columbus.

On the year for players who played the majority of the season in AAA, Mike Aubrey led the team in average (.281), Todd Linden was the MVP and leader in homers (14), Brad Snyder was the leader in RBI (61) and pitcher John Halama led the team in wins (8). Young starter David Huff stole the show for the Bisons after being called up from AA Akron going 6-4 but with a 3.01 ERA. Rick Bauer led the team in saves with 18 and Eddy Buzachero had an excellent season out of the pen with 10 himself.

All in all it was a sad but reflective year for Bisons fans but an exciting one for the Tribe. With a new start in Columbus, better facilities and home in Ohio, the future is looking up for Indians Minor League Baseball.

NOTE: The Akron Aeros begin their playoff series with the Bowie Baysox on Wednesday looking for their third championship since 2003.

Source: Cleveland Indians.com

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Browns Trim Roster to 53

The Browns made 22 necessary moves on Saturday to trim their roster to the mandatory 53 men allowable. Among the moves were some not so surprising but also some shocking cuts. Let's take a look.

Biggest Shock

Travis Wilson WR, and Shantee Orr OLB CUT

After a solid preseason finale I thought for sure that Travis Wilson would be the #3 wide receiver. After Saturday's cuts he isn't even on the team. The so-called "best WR" in the 06 draft and official busted Browns pick is now looking for work on the streets.

Orr on the other hand was a free agent pickup whom I thought would provide a nice pass rush this year. His release likely means the Browns are high on 7th rounder Alex Hall and are convinced Antwan Peek is healthy enough to contribute week 1.

Another Injury

Lennie Friedman was surprisingly placed on the injured reserve, ending his 2008 campaign. The versatile G/C was going to be a factor this year, but his spot will have to be filled by Seth McKinney, Isaac Sowells and Ryan Tucker.

DB Battle

In the battle to make the roster as a DB, Jereme Perry and AJ Davis lost and Gerard Lawson and Travis Daniels were the big winners. The Browns traded a draft pick to acquire Daniels over a week ago and Lawson is an undrafted rookie who will be relied on mostly on special teams. Perry and Davis had subpar preseason outings.

Former Savage Picks Gone

Gone are former Phil Savage 2nd day draft picks DL Chase Pittman and Melila Purcell, and LB David McMillan. The depth of the Browns has improved to the point where moves like this can be easily made.

Four Tight Ends

Phil chose to go with four tight ends this season: Kellen Winslow, Steve Heiden, the injured rookie Martin Rucker and roster bubble candidate Darnell Dinkins. I like this move and appreciate Dinkins' work on special teams. Brad Cieslak and Kolomano Kapanui were released.

2008 Draft Class

All picks of the Browns' rookie class made the roster: Beau Bell, Atyba Rubin, Alex Hall, Paul Hubbard, and Martin Rucker. Also making the team as a rookie is UDFA Gerard Lawson.

WR Battle

And last but not least, the vaunted wide receiver battle. As I mentioned earlier, Travis Wilson was surprisingly released, due in most part to the play of Syndric Steptoe who emerged as a special teams force this preseason. Also gone is area-native Steve Sanders who had a good preseason. Paul Hubbard made the team due to his size and potential because he had an up-and-down preseason and Joe Jurevicius will be eligible to come off the PUP Week 7. For now the Browns will go with 5 WRs.


OL Lennie Friedman


TE Brad Cieslak

DB A.J. Davis

WR Efrem Hill

TE Kolomona Kapanui

DB Travis Key

OL James Lee

WR Lance Leggett

LB David McMillan

DB Brandon Mitchell

LB Chase Ortiz

OL Jonathan Palmer

DB Jereme Perry

DL Melila Purcell

K Jason Reda

WR Steve Sanders

WR Travis Wilson

Terminated-Vested Veteran

LB Shantee Orr


OL Derrick Morse

OL Marvin Philip

DL Chase Pittman

RB Travis Thomas

Projected Depth Chart

QB: Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Ken Dorsey
RB: Jamal Lewis, Jerome Harrison, Jason Wright
FB: Lawrence Vickers, Charles Ali
WR: Braylon Edwards, Donte Stallworth, Syndric Steptoe, Josh Cribbs, Paul Hubbard
TE: Kellen Winslow, Steve Heiden, Martin Rucker, Darnell Dinkins
LT: Joe Thomas, Isaac Sowells
LG: Eric Steinbach, Scott Young
C: Hank Fraley
RG: Rex Hadnot, Seth McKinney
RT: Kevin Shaffer, Ryan Tucker

DE: Robaire Smith, Louis Leonard
NT: Shaun Rogers, Shaun Smith
DE: Corey Williams, Atyba Rubin
OLB: Kamerion Wimbley, Alex Hall
ILB: Andra Davis, Leon Williams
ILB: D'Qwell Jackson, Beau Bell, Kris Griffin
OLB: Willie McGinest, Antwan Peek
CB: Eric Wright, Brandon McDonald, Travis Daniel, Terry Cousin, Gerard Lawson
FS: Brodney Pool, Mike Adams
SS: Sean Jones, Nick Sorenson

K: Phil Dawson
P: Dave Zastudil
LS: Ryan Pontbriand
KR: Josh Cribbs
PR: Josh Cribbs

EDIT: On Monday, September 1st, the Browns claimed OL Scott Young off waivers from Philadelphia and announced their practice squad. OL Nate Bennett was waived to make room for Young on the roster.

Practice Squad

OL Nate Bennett*
LB Titus Brown
RB Omar Cuff
OL Christian Gaddis
S Travis Key*
WR Lance Leggett*
DL Melila Purcell*
WR Steve Sanders*

*Spent time with Browns training camp.

Source: Cleveland Browns Home Page

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Browns Make Roster Moves; Jurevicius to PUP

The Cleveland Browns made their aforementioned roster moves on Tuesday, two of which were expected injury list placements. Joe Jurevicius was placed on the PUP list meaning that he will not be eligible to play until after Week 7. His 2008 season in its entirety is in doubt after a serious knee surgery. Kevin Kasper, a fellow receiver looking to make the squad was placed on the injured reserve due to head/neck injuries, ending his 2008 campaign. Other moves included the waiving of DB Damon Jenkins, RB Austin Scott and DL Brian Schaefering (as I predicted). Travis Thomas, the beneficiary of the Scott cut, will get one last preseason game to prove himself to the Browns and/or the rest of the NFL.

Source: Cleveland Browns Team Website

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Round of Cuts Arriving Soon

It's the time of year that all players in the NFL dread, cut week. Starting tomorrow and ending before Week 1 of the regular season the Browns' roster will be shrunk from 80 players to 75 and to the final total of 53. Let's take a look at my first five cuts as the Browns approach Week 4 of the preseason.

Jason Reda, K

Kicker cuts are rarely indicative of the quality of performance, rather a situation where a veteran is already in place and has done nothing to lose his job. This is the case with Reda, the Illinois product who has shown a strong leg on kickoffs and solid accuracy putting the ball between the posts. Phil Dawson is the Browns' man and this cut will give Reda a shot to latch on elsewhere in the NFL.

Brian Schaefering, DL

The big man from tiny Lindenwood College is an NFL success story to just make it this far but his time may be up. With the depth additions to the DL this offseason and the emergence of last year's draft picks Melila Purcell and Chase Pittmann and this year's rookie Atyba Rubin, his chances of making the 53 man roster are slim to none.

Kapanui Kolomona, TE

The man with the coolest name on the Cleveland Browns likely will not survive past Tuesday. It's not his fault, per se, but Kolomona has been injured all of camp and missed virtually all of late practices and preseason contests. Everyone knows of the depth of Browns tight ends and out of the group including Winslow, Heiden, Rucker, Dinkins and Brad Cieslak, Kolomona is likely the one to go.

Lance Leggett, WR

Another victim of depth at an offensive skill position, the large Miami U product has performed decently enough in training camp and limited preseason action. However, I think the Browns want to see more of Steve Sanders, Paul Hubbard and the oft-injured Kevin Kasper who have more of a shot of making the actual 53 man roster.

Travis Thomas, RB

The Golden Domer (seen above) has bounced from runningback to linebacker back to runningback in his college career. The fact that the 5th year senior has made it this far is testament in and of itself but I'm afraid his time may be up. Thomas has shown limited vision and speed in games and fellow UDFA RB Austin Scott of Penn State surpassed him on the depth chart for the last exhibition game against Detroit. This is likely the end of Thomas' NFL run.

What's next for these cuts? Practice squad is a possibility as I think of the bunch Schaefering and Leggett are most likely as is latching on with another NFL squad. Most likely however, these men will play a lower division of football or go into the real world. Whatever the case, I'm sure their time with the Browns will be one to remember for the rest of their lives.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Three Clevelanders Traded

The events of the last few days have left Cleveland pro sports minus three key veteran players. Paul Byrd of the Indians was traded to Boston for cash considerations and in a much larger deal Damon Jones and Joe Smith of the Cavaliers were traded to Milwaukee for Maurice Williams (Smith was then traded to Oklahoma City). All three players were veterans who were well-liked on their teams and by the fans. Let's take a look back on their time in Cleveland.

Joe Smith

The shortest tenured Clevelander played only 41 games with the Cavaliers last season (27 regular season, 14 playoff) before being shipped off in the Mo Williams deal. Smith was originally acquired as a "throw-in" in the Ben Wallace/Larry Hughes deal with Chicago but proved to be a valuable asset to the Cavs, averaging 8.1 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game with a reliable midrange jumper. Smith's best game as a Cavalier came in a 17-point effort in a Game 3 playoff win over Boston.

Paul Byrd

Byrd played 2+ seasons for the Indians after being signed as a free agent in the 2006 offseason. He finished his stint with the Indians with a 32-27 record and an ERA under 4.75, impressive numbers for a man once thought to be a #5 starter for the Tribe at best. Byrd was 2-0 in last year's playoff run including the clinching game vs. the New York Yankees. Let's take a look at where his stats rank in Indians pitching history:

32 wins (72nd all-time)
84 starts (59th all-time)
84 games (141st all-time)
502.1 innings (80th all-time)
232 strikeouts (91st all-time)
4 complete games (162nd all-time)
2 shutouts (91st all-time)

Damon Jones

A well-liked character with a personality as large as his ego, Damon Jones once called himself the greatest shooter in the world. While maybe not that, DJ was a good three point threat who hit many great shots for the Cavaliers. In 2005-06, his first season with Cleveland, Damon was an ironman for the Cavs playing in all 82 games with 6.7 points and 2.1 assists per game. In his second campaign, Damon was selected to the All-Star Game's Three Point Shootout where he didn't win but finished a solid 5th. In his last season, 07-08, Damon shot a Cavalier-best 41.6% from three point range with 6.5 points a contest. Some of his most memorable moments come on the grandest of stages. In a key late-season game in 2006, Damon drilled the winning 3 pointer vs. the Raptors. He would go on to come cold off the bench, having not played a single second, and win Game 6 vs. Washington in the playoffs with a short jumper. Damon finishes 6th in Cavaliers regular season history with 344 three pointers made and 6th with 877 attempted. He finishes 15th in playoff history with 29 games played and 10th with 14 three pointers made. Let's take a look at some of Damon's more memorable moments:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Vote Slider for Mascot Hall of Fame!

The Cleveland Indians' very own mascot, Slider, is up for induction into the Mascot Hall of Fame. You can help by going to mascothalloffame.com and registering in one easy step. Choose Slider from the list of Professional Mascots and click vote, it's that easy.


More info

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Byrd Rolls - Does This Affect Indians '08 Rotation?

It seemed inevitable a month ago that Paul Byrd's career as a Cleveland Indian was winding down. The veteran was 3-10 after a loss on the 4th of July with an ERA over 5 and the most HRs allowed in the Major Leagues. Four straight wins later -- with no dingers given up -- the veteran is the hottest name pitcher on the waiver wire trade market. But do the Indians want to give Byrd up? With the trade of C.C. Sabathia, the loss of Jake Westbrook (Tommy John surgery puts his '09 campaign in question), the up-and-down nature of young hurlers Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers and the recent injury struggles of Fausto Carmona, would the Tribe consider bringing back the savvy Byrd for one, maybe two more seasons? It makes sense from a stability and leadership standpoint. Byrd has been consistent in the last 2+ seasons as an Indian being good for double digit wins and excellent control (230 strikeouts to only 90 walks) while bringing an excellent presence to the clubhouse day in and day out. It also makes sense from a monetary position. After being signed to a 2-year, $14 million contract in 2006, the Tribe picked up Byrd's club option for $7.5 million in 2008. There is no doubt that at 37 years old and towards the end of Byrd's career that he will be cheaper this time around. The simple fact may be that the Indians can't afford to take a chance on minor leaguers such as David Huff or youngsters such as Laffey and Sowers when they are looking to put this disappointing season behind them. Unless Mark Shapiro really feels confident about making a serious run at bringing back Sabathia (who rejected an Indians offer for $19 mil a year earlier this season) or picking up other Brewer ace Ben Sheets, it will probably be a guy like Randy Wolf of the Astros, an aging, relatively cheap back of the rotation starter. Don't we already one of those? Anthony Reyes may have pitched himself into the mix with 6.1 one-run innings, picking up the win in his Tribe debut last week vs. Toronto. However, like Laffey and Sowers, Reyes is young and has struggled in his recent career. If it were up to me, I would make a long run at the man who went 2-0 in last years' playoffs, Paul Byrd. It's not good to maintain roster stability on a team that misses the postseason, but Byrd is a winner, going 32-27 as an Indian. I have no doubt that he would help the Indians as a 4th or 5th starter next season as they look to reach the promised land once again.

My Projected '09 Tribe Starting Rotation

Cliff Lee
Fausto Carmona
Aaron Laffey
Paul Byrd
Jeremy Sowers

Emergency Starters: Anthony Reyes, Adam Miller, David Huff
Disabled List to start season: Jake Westbrook

A lot of things depend on how Sowers and Laffey finish this 2008 season, but I see them having potential breakout years in 09. Reyes is a relative unknown right now but he could easily be in this mix, as could Adam Miller if he could ever stay healthy. David Huff could make an impact as a late-season call-up. Jake Westbrook would probably bump out Laffey or Sowers when/if he returns from the Disabled List.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Browns Preseason Week 1

I was at CBS last night and saw the Browns in action for the first time this year firsthand. A couple random thoughts and some analysis of the game:

  • Derek Anderson looked sharp but actually missed Braylon Edwards on his one-handed TD grab. Braylon came back to the ball and made an excellent play.
  • Jamal ran very hard behind an offensive line that hasn't missed a beat from last season and Jerome Harrison impressed with the 2nd teamers. I think he will pass Jason Wright as Lewis' primary backup with Wright on special teams.
  • It looks like it could be a season where we stop the run two times and give up a third-and-long though the air. The run defense was stout, led by Shaun Rogers at nose, but the DBs looked vulnerable, particularly Brandon McDonald and Terry Cousins.
  • If something ever happened to Josh Cribbs, Syndric Steptoe could fill in nicely. He had an excellent evening returning kicks but missed a Quinn pass that got tipped for an interception. I'm not sure if he will make the team, but Steptoe will be a solid practice squad candidate at worst.
  • Speaking of Quinn, the backup was sharp completing 13 of 17 passes for over 130 yards and leading the 2nd team offense to a TD (Jason Wright 1 yard plunge) against the Jets' first team defense. Ken Dorsey was not so fortunate. Given multiple chances to win the game in the final minutes, Dorsey failed finishing 8-26 on the night.
  • Dave Zastudil concerns me. He didn't have a great season last year after returning from a back injury and had two very mediocre punts in last night's game. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Browns draft a punter this coming offseason, but let's hope we won't need to see much of Zastudil this year.
  • On a final note, let's hope and pray that we receive no further injuries to the offensive line or secondary. From what I saw last night, there is not a lot of depth at either the cornerback or tackle positions.

The Browns' next game will be Monday Night against the Giants on ESPN

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Baxter to Undergo Another Surgery

Just saw a story reporting that Browns DB Gary Baxter has undergone another surgery on his knees, this one an arthroscopic. Baxter had been practicing in training camp for about a week but experienced some soreness starting a few days ago. The usual time-frame for this kind of injury is about a month but for Baxter could be even longer. That time-table would put his return at around the first regular season game, meaning he will miss the entire preseason, if he were to make the team. That chance of making the roster looks shaky at best for the Cleveland Browns or any NFL organization at this point. Perhaps the best shot for Baxter is if the Browns put him on the Physically Unable to Perform list (or PUP). That would make him inactive for the first 6 regular season games while he rehabs and continues to strengthen the knee, while not counting on the 53-man roster. Then when the time comes at Week 7, if a roster move is necessary or if he has proven himself ready, he can join the team.

Certainly not good news from a guy I was rooting for... If only he could have made it to Thursday to get back on that field for the Browns preseason home opener.

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Lee Wins #15, Makes Case for Cy Young

It took 115 pitches and 7 innings, 5 runs of support and 2 solid relief innings from Rafael Perez but that was enough to give the Indians a win Monday vs. the Rays. Wins these days are few and far between for the disappointing Tribe but this was an even more special one, not necessarily for the team, but for the starting pitcher. The win was Cliff Lee's 15th on the season, tops in baseball and three away from a career high -- in early August. Coupled with only 2 losses and an ERA under 2.60, Cliff is having the best season for an Indians pitcher in almost 30 years and is making his case to be the second Indian in as many seasons to win the Cy Young Award, the most prestigious for a pitcher in all of baseball.

Let's take a look at how Cliff stacks up against other competitors at this point of the season.

Cliff Lee, SP, Indians: 15-2, 2.58 ERA, 127 Ks, 22 BBs, 153.2 innings, 2 CGs, 1 shutout

It's hard to find flaws in anything Cliff Lee has done this year because, well... there aren't any. With an AL-leading 15 wins, AL-low (for starters) 2 losses, and 2nd best 2.58 ERA he has made as strong a case as any for the award. Did I mention his 127 strikeouts to only 22 walks -- a 6-1 ratio?!

Joe Saunders, SP, Angels: 14-5, 3.03 ERA, 70 Ks, 41 BBs, 145.2 innings, 1 CG

Saunders presents probably the greatest challenge to Lee from another starting pitcher with his 14 wins and ERA just over 3, however his 5 losses and subpar strikeout-to-walk ratio will hurt his cause. The fact that he anchors the staff of the best team in baseball will make up for any statistical disadvantages to Cliff Lee, who is on a last-place team.

Mike Mussina, SP, Yankees: 14-7, 3.44 ERA, 90 Ks, 19 BBs, 133.1 innings

Mussina's resurgent season should not be discredited, however some of these statistics may be lying. The Moose has received excellent run support from the Bronx Bombers and has been bailed out by a strong bullpen. He also has 7 losses to his credit. However, 14 wins does stand for a lot as does his excellent control, only 19 walks in 133+ innings. Perhaps he should be in the running for keeping the Yanks in the playoff hunt in the absence of ace Wang.

Juistin Duchscherer, SP, Athletics: 10-7, 2.33 ERA, 78 Ks, 31 BBs, 1 CG, 1 shutout

Duchscherer's trouble is the opposite of Mussina's. He hasn't received anything remotely resembling run support from the A's. With a 2.33 ERA, best in baseball, he will be in the conversation for this award despite his team's lack of help and his average win-loss record. A stretch of 5 or 6 wins to finish out the season would be Duchsherer's only hope.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP, Red Sox: 12-2, 3.04 ERA, 94 Ks, 64 BBs, 106.2 innings

I will argue against Dice-K winning this award with any Red Sox fan alive, but his stats put him in the conversation. With one of the highest run supports in baseball, Dice-K has won 12 games with only 2 losses despite walking 64 men in 106.2 innings of work. He deserves some credit for pitching out of trouble but has also left some games due for a loss where he team has come back to win. His time on the DL will hurt his case for the Cy Young Award.

Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Angels: 1-2, 2.40 ERA, 51 Ks, 28 BBs, 48.2 IP, 45/48 saves

K-Rod has been the best closer in baseball this season with 45/48 converted save chances, by far the most in baseball. However his relatively high ERA and 1-2 record will count against him as will the question in voters' minds: should a reliever win this award? K-Rod is worthy for certain, but one has to remeber that saves only come from a team being in a save situation, something the Angels have had plenty of this year. Saves can be overrated as well. K-Rod has had a number of those this year with a 3 run lead and even a 1-pitch save against the Indians where he came in up 3 to spell another Angels reliever with 2 outs.

Mariano Rivera, RP, Yankees: 4-4, 1.49 ERA, 58 Ks, 5 BBs, 48.1 innings, 26/26 saves

No that isn't a misprint. Mariano Rivera has a 100% save conversion and only 5 walks in 48.1 innings. However, he has been very average in non-save situations, picking up 4 losses that the competing Yankees could not afford. The other thing that will hurt Rivera is that he has 19 fewer saves than the AL leader, Francisco Rodriguez and his team is currently in third place. What will help Rivera? That 26/26 stat and the fact he plays in New York.

Joe Nathan, RP, Twins: 0-0, 1.18 ERA, 49 Ks, 11 BBs, 45.2 innings, 30/32 saves

If you asked my opinion, I'd tell you that Joe Nathan is the best closer in baseball. Try telling that to the media. Nathan has yet to pick up a loss on the season, has the best ERA in baseball by any closer at 1.18 and has converted 30/32 save chances. He has been virtually unhittable for the Twins who don't score a lot of runs for him to carry into the 9th. Nathan probably should win this award over the other two closers, but his lack of save opportunities and the fact he plays in Minnesota will hurt him.

My Ballot:

1st Place- Cliff Lee
2nd Place- Joe Saunders
3rd Place- Joe Nathan
4th Place- Francisco Rodriguez
5th Place- Daisuke Matsuzaka

Welcome to the Launchpad

With a name inspired by Cavaliers announcer Michael Reghi, the Launchpad will be a source for everything Cleveland sports with my own unique spin and opinions. Feel free to add your comments to each post by clicking below them. You can subscribe to the blog by checking out the links at the very bottom of the page. Feel free to contact me with questions or opinions.

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