Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Weekend in Review

"Not Like There's Anyone Still Reading This" Edition


Bills 37, Browns 7: Ugh. Butch Davis is approaching Art Modell territory in my mind. How can the team be this bad? Well, I go into detail below. One note, though, on Luke McCown. A fourth round draft pick, McCown doesn't look that far behind the hotshot first rounders this season. One of the CBS annoucers made a good point last week - McCown, from Louisiana Tech, is used to playing in the Homecoming Games for teams like Miami and Florida State. So, he has the poise to be a rookie on a team like the Browns this season. The cold weather was a bit of a shock to his system, but I still see good things in McCown's future.

Ravens 37, Giants: No, really, how bad are the Browns? Cleveland's Fox affiliate actually showed this game during the Browns game, something that rarely happens. Normally, I would have switched to this game when things got ugly in Buffalo, but a Ravens blowout was no solace.

49ers 31, Cardinals 28: After the Giants game, Fox switched to the end of this game as overtime was beginning. San Francisco made some nice stops to pin Arizona close to their own goal line. Nice, I thought, time to see if Arnaz Battle can win it right here. But, for no apparent reason, a local commercial suddenly kicked in right as the ball landed in Arnaz's arms. Fox came back, but it was James Brown in the studio, acting as if nothing had happened. What was the result of the punt? Agggghhhh!

Packers 16, Lions 13: Well, if the Catholic Packer Fan ever has to miss the first half of a Packers game, he needent worry. Just as in the Houston game, Green Bay did nothing in the first half as a slightly overmatched opponent built a decent lead going into the half. Then, just when the other team has been lulled to sleep, the Packers quietly sneak up and score just enough to win it with a late field goal.

Eagles 17, Redskins 14: Early in the game, these two teams were on a pace to go into overtime tied at 140. That's what happens when you're tied 7-7 after 3 minutes. Then, Washington remembered they had a defense, and Philadelphia remembered the Redskins had no offense. So, there's you're final score. My favorite moments: Mr. Talk, Terrell Owens, catches a swing pass and makes a nice move to evade the corner. Then, seeing all three linebackers locking in on him, he sprints straight sideways for the sidelines. I haven't ever seen him move that fast. Should Mr. Talk also be Mr. Tough Guy? Second favorite moment: They showed the Christmas tree in the White House, and one of the annoucers commented that it appeared to be "leaning a little to the left." Joe Theisman replies, "Not in that White House it isn't."

Cleveland Sports - Ups and Downs

Cavaliers: There's a lot to be excited about, but... The Cavs continue to be blown out by bad teams. Why? Bad teams know they normally can't win on talent, so they focus on hustle and good shot selection. While they're doing this, the Cavs are busy not hustling and poorly shooting like every other NBA team. This should be an interesting up and down year. Gordon Gund would like to sell the team while their popularity is high. The leading buyer, reportedly, is Detroit-area Internet millionaire Dan Gilbert, who previously tried to buy the Milwaukee Brewers. Being from the Detroit area, there's a good chance he won't move the team, and Gund said he wouldn't sell to a guy who wanted to move the team. Of course, this wouldn't be the first time in the last year Gund was lied to. To Cleveland fans, it doesn't matter who the owner is, as long as the team stays in Cleveland and is willing to pay for Zydrunas Ilgauskas (free agent at the end of the season) and LeBron James when the time comes.

Browns: Hal Lebovitz probably had the best evidence of Butch Davis's management incompetence. In this past Sunday's column, Hal had a long list of "excuse me" draft picks - picks made one year that seemed to make up for the previous year's picks. Some examples: a year after taking Quincy Morgan in the second round, Andre Davis was taken in the second (both are receivers). Jeff Faine was taken the year after Melvin Fowler was selected. Fowler, originally a center, was moved to guard, which continues to be the line's biggest problem. At least taking Lee Suggs after taking william Green was a good move, but all the running backs in the world are no help if there's no line too block for them. There are a few bright spots on this team, but not many. How could this happen to a playoff team?

Indians: Things are still looking up, but how will the Indians react when they're expected to win? Last week, the Tribe traded Matt Lawton to Pittsburgh for Arthur Rhodes. This team had an awful bullpen last year, with no proven lefty and few if any veterans. So, they added one and saved just a little money. Cleveland was for a time in the running for Matt Clement. Not a bad move in my opinion. I like Clement a lot, but Cleveland's young staff would probably better be served by a cagey veteran innings eater. Of course, if the best innings-eater available is Jon Leiber, why not go for Clement? Well, even he may be out of the question now. The Mets overspent on Kris Benson, and that has caused the asking price of all other starters to skyrocket. People have blasted Benson for his relatively high ERA and losing career record, but that has to be taken in context considering who he's played for. Benson is and will be decent. Of course, since Matt Clement is the same age as Benson, with better numbers, up goes his price. So, it looks like Anaheim will get him now. Why the Angels feel the need to spend, spend, spend after being the shining example of a small market success is beyond me. Meanwhile, the Indians may use the money saved from Clement to resign Ron Belliard, who was a great addition to the team last year. With all this, though, where does Casey Blake play? Aaron Boone is now the man at third. Blake puts up similar offensive numbers to Boone, but is quite inferior defensively. With the logjam at first (Ben Broussard, DH Travis Hafner, and Josh Phelps), Tribe management suggested second base. Not something I was looking forward to. But, now with the potential Belliard resigning and the trade of Lawton, it looks like Blake will be learning on the job in right field until Jody Gerut recovers from knee surgery #2. But wait, why not just trade Blake, and why is Phelps even there in the first place with the way Broussard and especially Hafner are playing? Well, three words answer those questions: right handed power. Other than the switch-hitting Victor Martinez, Cleveland has little in the way of righty power, either at the major league level, or in the higher levels of their minor league system. Meanwhile, with the loss of Omar Vizquel and John MacDonald, it appears that the Indians have strikeout king Jose Hernandez to back up young Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Phillips up the middle. That is, of course, assuming Phillips isn't traded to the A's. It was discussed that Phillips could be involved for one of Oakland's big pitchers. Tim Hudson was out of Cleveland's price range, but Barry Zito was still a possibility. Of course, of Phillips and Peralta, Phillips has the better future. So, the Oakland deal may not go down. The ignorant around here may complain about all Cleveland teams' "unwillingness" to spend money, but those in the know (or, those who think they are in the know) are excited about the future.

Transaction Wire

Yankees sign Tony Womack and Jaret Wright. I'll actually admit that these were both useful pickups for the Yanks, but of course they overpaid for both. Mike, remember that you're allowed to release KankaMatic players without penalty until the end of December. Me, I'm cursing out the fact that I had just snuck in the signing of Wright at the end of the season.

Cubs sign Henry Blanco. Well, he can throw out runners, and... well, he's a veteran, so Dusty will give him tons of playing time. I feel sorry for Michael Barrett.

Phillies sign Jon Lieber. Well, that takes the Indians out of the running. Lieber was the closest thing this market had to an inning eater, but I still didn't think he was what the Indians thinking.

Diamondbacks sign Troy Glaus. Um. Arizona has no money but spent a lot here. Richie Sexson is as good as gone (most likely Seattle), so they needed to replace his bat. Glaus should be a permanent move to first from third, but they already did that with Shea Hillenbrand. So, one of them will have to move back. With Glaus's health, I think the AL would have been best for him so he could take some time at DH, but a place where he needs to remain at 3rd definitely isn't a good idea.

Dodgers sign Jeff Kent. Alex Cora isn't a bad second baseman, but Kent is a big upgrade on offense (look for quite a few late-game defensive replacements with Cora, though). Plus, Kent can move over to first against lefties. But, the big thing here is that an already weak-hitting team needs to replace Adrian Beltre, surely lost to free agency.

Diamondbacks sign Russ Ortiz. Easing the possible loss of Randy Johnson? Overkill. Don't be surprised if the D-backs have to declare bankruptcy. Honestly.

Braves sign Danny Kolb. The Braves need starters, so who do they get? One they already have. John Smoltz moves back to the rotation as unheralded breakout closer Danny Kolb moves from Milwaukee to Atlanta.

Yankees sign Carl Pavano. Grumble grumble.

Red Sox allegedly sign Edgar Renteria. Great pickup if this is true. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and call him the best shortstop in the AL when this goes down. Offense, defense, he's solid. Dave, just shut up now.

Dodgers allegedly trade two no names for Tim Hudson. Sooner or later, the A's will run out of pitchers, and eventually they'll realize they need position players, too.

Blue Jays sign Corey Koskie. Where have you gone, Eric Hinske?

White Sox trade Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik and Luis Vizcaino. Upgrade all around. White Sox get a big upgrade in their outfield defense while Milwaukee gets a power bat. Meanwhile, I avoid the hearburn of seeing Lee give up two runs to the Indians on a misplayed fly ball, only come back with a 3 run homer in the bottom of the inning.

Mets sign Pedro Martinez. Dave, have fun with "Disgruntled Pedro."

Miscellaneous Ramblings

  • CPF reports on some strange happenings on 31 on Tuesday.

  • So, I was watching Celebrity Blackjack the other day. The contestants, from left to right on your TV screen: that redhead that has her own show on ABC that nobody watches, Warren G, Carnie Wilson, and Ralphie May, the slightly overweight comedian who's a frequent guest of Jimmy Kimmel. Of course, the drinks are free, so the redhead proceeds to get smashed right away. When not trying to show that she's "street" to impress/hit on Warren G, she's trying to proposition the dealer. She went the whole "my husband won't know" route, but kept going on and was way too serious about it. Carnie was doing terrible, so all of the redhead's drunken ramblings were making her even more pissed. If those two were sitting next two each other, it could have gotten ugly (take that joke however you want to). Meanwhile, Ralphie May spent the whole time doing Dave Chapelle as Lil' John and trying to start conversations about blacksploitation films with Warren G. Warren, the whole time, was as laid back as anyone could possibly be. It probably helped that he was winning, though. All in all, tree-mendous unintentional comedy.

  • A summary of Bob Davie talking about ND: "I am a coach who couldn't recruit or win at Notre Dame. Therefore, no one can recruit or win at Notre Dame." Um... no.

  • I caught the highlights of the US womens' soccer farewell tour on SportsCenter. At the half, Mia Hamm switched from a "Hamm" jersey to a "Garciaparra" jersey... and preceded to go down with an injury. You can't make this up.

  • Did anyone catch the UConn-Umass game? It was like neither team wanted to win that one. Up by 4 with under a minute to go, UMass managed to send UConn to the line twice for two shots each. (Yes, I said UMass was winning at the time.) UConn almost made an easy basket on the second foul, too. Now, tied at 89 with little time left, Jim Calhoun decides to keep 4 guys in the UMass backcourt for a press. UMass of course passes right by the defense for an easy basket. Of course, the UMass player who made the shot jumps on a chair on the UMass bench to celebrate with the crowd - while UConn is going back up the court for the tying/winning shot! UConn fortunately missed, ending the game in an upset. Hello, you play to win the game!

  • Per The Backer: Matt Carroll has signed with the Roanoke Dazzle of the NBDL.

  • I went to my sister's band concert last week, and of course I had to sit through the choir portion first. A predominantly female group (there were 3 or 4 guys in a choir of 30-35), they had a smaller feature group called GEM - Girls Entertaining Music (or something like that). While I'm listening, I'm thinking to myself, "Wait, wasn't Gem the villain group in 'Barbie and the Rockers'?" Then, I immediately thought to myself, "Wait, why do I know that?" Moving on.

  • The snowfall in my part of the world started Sunday night and really hasn't stopped yet (Midwest bias! Midwest bias!). So, of course, here's me after work Monday, scraping and brushing off my car... in my Fiesta Bowl windbreaker. Yeah, I'm from Ohio.

  • This of course is our first winter with Harry Dog. The snow doesn't seem to bother Harry too much. You can see three distinct and consistent paths in the snow: right legs (he isn't tall enough to step higher than the level of the snow), left legs, and nose. When he looks up from sniffing, there's a small pile of snow on his nose. It looks like he's trying to do a Lindsay Lohan impression.

Short column this week, I know, but it's the start of Bowl Week. Look for something on Charlie Weis later this week.