Friday, October 31, 2008
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
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.
PEPSI CLUTCH PERFORMER
Friday, October 17, 2008
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
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.
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
See Mort's shocking pick for yourself, at this link.