Monthly Archives: September 2013

Mmmm … Delicious Hat!

Jason-Giambi-300x199

Boy, Giambi went from ‘roid poster boy to beloved elder statesman and future manager quick, didn’t he?

No team has won 10 straight games to finish a season since 1971. Tribe just did it to lock in home for the wildcard game (and finish just a game back of the Tigers). Needed every one. Win or lose Wednesday, this was a cool season and I like this team. They have the bonhomie of those “idiot” Red Sox teams, without the pervasive douchiness. Hard-working flavor for a hard-working town. Go Tribe! You’ve already come up big. Now go get a little more gravy.

Last week, while the Browns were looking rather sharp in the first game of the Brian Hoyer tank-a-thon (so it seemed at the time), atlswami texted me: “I’m enjoying your karmic comeuppance for bailing on your team,” referring to my spite-add of the opposing defense in fantasy. Dood–all part of the plan. Some national writers talking about them being legit good.

And Hoyer. The mayor.  Look, I grew up playing Browns QB in the backyard too, counting down before lofting a dead duck in the air and running over to catch it myself, and the spinning the ball on the ground while I did the cabbage patch. In fact, my cousins lived in North Olmsted, where Hoyer grew up, and we did this little act in their yard too. So he’s going to win a lot of hearts. Let’s hope he learned a lot from Tom Brady and see how this goes.

How many games do the Browns have to win before I actually have to eat my hat? Can I wash it first?

This is back when it was new. It's not new any more.

This is back when it was new. It’s not new any more.

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Falcons Snatch Defeat from Jaws of Victory

Now where did I put Cowher's number?

Arthur Blank, likely wondering, “Now where did I put Cowher’s number?”

I got a text from a friend Sunday night. It read: “[The Falcons] will never win a SB with that coach/QB combo. Never.”

At first I dismissed this missive as lashing out by a depressed 49ers fan, who was likely ornery after the Indianapolis Colts  traveled across the country to put a whipping on a seriously regressing Colin Kaepernick.

But who am I kidding? I totally agree.

If a standard NFL game were only 15 minutes long, the Falcons would be the perennial favorites to win the Lombardi trophy. But games are  60 minutes long, and the Falcons coaching staff just can’t seem to keep their team motivated for that length of time. Leads are squandered. Mid-game lulls are commonplace. And the comebacks haven’t been coming—as they once did.

After five years of watching him play, I think I’m convinced that Matt Ryan is not the problem. I think a coach who “coaches up” players, who players desperately don’t want to disappoint, who makes smart gambles, etc., can win with Matt Ryan. Bill Cowher and Jim Harbaugh come to mind.

Mike Smith, is no Cowher or Harbaugh. He seems to get stuck on words, like “resiliency” and “explosiveness,” repeating them to a team that regularly showcases neither trait. His managerial echolalia isn’t even what annoys me most about him. It’s that he’s a defensive coach—prior to joining the Falcons, he was the defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars—who has never really had a feared defense. He seems completely mismatched with the team he currently has, an on-paper offensive juggernaut that in real life is sort of ho hum and average.

I think Smith might be one of those coaches who can get you to the playoffs and no further. He’s Dan Reeves without the suit. He’s Andy Reid. For an in-state example, he’s the NFL version of Mark Richt.

Case in point: Falcons beat reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, D. Orlando Ledbetter, just tweeted that offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has set a goal of turning 55 percent of red zone possessions into touchdowns. My question: Why isn’t the goal 100 percent? If you aspire to it and fall short, you’re still a damn good football team. Aspiring to mediocrity is what’s gotten this team to where it’s at now.

I just don’t see the Mike Smith regime leading us to a trophy.


Laughing Stock or Last Laugh?

Citi+BCS+National+Championship+Alabama+v+Texas+lUjc5A2-HyVl

According to sources, Chud thinks running backs are like tires on a car. Is the vehicle really going to run that much better with a shiny new one than it is with an old bald one? I don’t know. I don’t have a car.

Right now, my vote is for laughing stock, but that’s purely a matter of context, coming after 15 years of mismanagement and failure. I’m looking at you, Holmgren. You were just the latest, but you gave us Shurmur, so no one cares what you think.

Under other circumstances (i.e., anyone with a track record for good decision-making), this reaction would almost definitely have gone the other way. As a football decision, I’m ill-qualified to judge whether TRich was valuable, especially since I rarely get to see the Browns play. But many analysts seem to think this was a bold, courageous, and wise decision on the part of—what are their names again? Does it matter? Here, here, and here. I get their reasoning and why this could be good for the Browns. It’s going to be a couple of years before we know if TRich was middling all along, or injury prone, or will become another name on the list of unique and innovative ways (trading your schedule cover boy two games into a season? I mean, who does that?) that Cleveland franchises shoot themselves in the foot. But it is those few years that are the problem.

As an emotional decision, as a reminder that a new band of serious-looking old guys is asking for yet more patience out of a fan base—the whole thing feels like another punch in the stomach. Those are years that Browns fans will never get back. Just like the last 15. It was a year ago that I wrote this. I think the defense might be better, but the needle doesn’t seem to have moved much. What this management is missing is any ability to inspire confidence in their decisions and pleas for patience. And they know it. We fans can talk ourselves into anything, and while they make it hard for us to keep doing that, they still might get the last word and we’ll eat crow when they deliver us a winner in a couple of years. Right? I mean, right?

Desperation aside, the towel has once again been cast. We give up. Another draft will come, we’ll get a shot of hope for some reason and we’ll be right back where we started. And so we look once again for the comedy in deep spiritual resignation and remind ourselves it’s just a dumb game. We hope the Indians make the playoffs and enjoy watching the Steelers suck (for a little while). Small pleasures.

The text from atlswami about the trade was just minutes old when I logged on to our fantasy football league and dumped San Diego’s defense for Minnesota’s (vs. Cleveland). It’s a good play, man. I figure this kind of declaration of despair would knock the wind out of the whole team. Disloyal? Maybe. In three years of doing this, I’ve always had a Brown and no Ravens on my rosters. No, I prefer to see it as a different form of loyalty—mild, meaningless protest. At least that’s what I tell myself.

teddy-bridgewater-800

This gentleman’s name is Teddy Bridgewater and my understanding is that he is very good at athletic-type things. No one has yet coined a rhyming phrase for blowing your season for him or Clowney (ala, Suck for Luck, Riggin’ for Wiggins, etc.). Is he already looking for houses in Cleveland and Jacksonville?


Mariners’ Passed Ball Ensures 4th Straight Losing Season

The Mariners had little hope of avoiding yet another losing season. But how fitting, in a game they should have won, that their 82nd loss of the season came on a passed ball by Mike Zunino in the 10th inning?

Catcher Zunino lets another win pass the Mariners by.

The Mariners let another win pass them by.

The error ensured a fourth straight losing season for the underperforming Seattle nine.  That’s the longest stretch of losing seasons for the Mariners since their first 14 seasons, ending in 1991 when they eked out a .512 winning percentage. It also marked their fifth straight loss, including getting swept by the Majors’ worst team, Houston.

I cheer again the inclusion of the Astros in the AL West, without whom the Mariners would very likely end up again in the division cellar.