Monday, February 27, 2006

The Cavs Bore Me 'Cause the NBA Blows

Okay, I give up. I try to blog about the Cavs, but I sound like more of a jackass than usual when I do. There's a simple reason for that-- most of the time, the team just bores me so much that it's harder for me to feign interest in them than it is for my wife to feign interest in me.

Don't get me wrong, I like the Cavs, but of the three local teams, they're the team that I care the least about. Why? Because they're part of the NBA, and the NBA just blows.

Here's the latest example: the Cavs are now touting Wi-Fi access at Quicken Loans Arena. Whoopie! Now die-hard fans will be able to concentrate even more on their corporate dealmaking without the bothersome distraction of watching a basketball game.

Of course, most NBA games are so boring, predictable and just plain awful that you can understand why somebody who drew the short straw and had to sit through one in person might want to surf the net instead of watch a parade of intensely unlikeable egomaniacs like Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and everyone ever affiliated with the Detroit Pistons slog their way through glorified pick-up games every night.

The NBA is a league run by corporate lawyers for the benefit of shoe companies. Everything from player dress codes to wireless access is designed to cater to people who don't really give a damn about the teams involved or the outcome of the game. What's worse, the NBA isn't content to just screw up its own product, it has managed to ruin college basketball as well--and let's not even mention how the NBA's most recent Dream Team performed at the last Olympics.

Absolutely devoid of anything interesting to show us on the court, the NBA has decided that it will instead dazzle those in attendance with ridiculous sound and light displays during player introductions, non-stop floor shows at every single break in the action and other antics designed to distract fans from the abysmal quality of the games.

So, while I hope the Cavs make the playoffs and eventually win a title, don't look for me to set any cars on fire during the post-title rioting. Oh, sure, I might do a little looting, but I'll save the real mayhem for a Super Bowl or World Series victory.

Draft and Free Agency News

Some interesting Browns-related reports today. According to this article in the Cowopolis Dispatch, the Browns spent a lot of time at the Combine with RBs DeAngelo Williams of Memphis and Laurence Maroney of Minnesota. Based upon his published comments, Savage seems to have been particularly impressed with Maroney.

Interestingly, while Savage spent time interviewing running backs, one guy he didn't interview, according to this article in today's Plain Dealer, was Chad Greenway, the Iowa LB who has emerged as the consensus favorite among mock drafters to be the Browns first round pick. Of course, as Savage hastens to point out, the Browns didn't interview Braylon Edwards during last year's combine either.

Steve Doerschuk's team report in The Sporting News highlights some guys on the Browns' free agency priority list. Assuming the collective bargaining situation doesn't screw things up, the Browns have enough cap room to make a big difference next year if they choose their free agents well. Of course, there's more than a minimal risk that the impasse with the players union will screw things up, and since the Browns are one of the teams in a position to benefit most from free agency, well, you know how stories like this usually end, right?

Anyway, assuming there is an active free agent market this year, Doershuck notes that one of the guys on the Browns' shopping list may be Ravens' NT Maake Kemoeatu. Kemoeatu is listed at 6'5" and 350 lbs. (yeah, right), and a decision to go after him may reflect the team's belief that Haloti Ngata won't be there when it's the Browns' turn to pick. On the other hand, Kemoeatu may represent a less risky alternative to taking Ngata with the first pick. Risky? Here's a history lesson from a Buffalo Bills fan site about the perils of selecting a DT early in the first round.

One guy the Browns apparently won't have to replace in free agency is Orpheus Roye. Tony Grossi is reporting that the Browns came to terms on a new deal with Roye today.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Celebrity Bloggers

AlthoughTressel's World is the Internet's best blog, Coach Tressel is by no means the only celebrity blogger. For example, Cleveland's beloved weather icon Dick Goddard has a blog that has a lot in common with Coach Tressel's, including a love of Adobe Photoshop.

Looking beyond Ohio, other celebrity bloggers include Mel Gibson, and some guy who is a real Ninja. Former Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers was a blogger-- and so is the guy who got the job she sought, United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. President Bush has not one, but two blogs. In fact, other world leaders have blogs, including Kim Jong Il of North Korea. Vice President Cheney tried blogging, but soon became frustrated.

Last, but certainly not least, God has blogs here and here and here and here.

Lee Nailon and Stephen Graham: Follow the Bouncing Players

Okay, time for some NBA musical chairs. On Thursday, the Cavs acquired forward Lee Nailon from the Philadelphia 76ers. They got Philly's second round pick, and sent a conditional second round pick to the 76ers in exchange. Are you with me so far? Good. Here's where things get interesting.

In order to make room on their roster for Nailon, they waived Stephen Graham (see the last paragraph of this story), whom they previously had been signed to a second 10-day contract on Monday. Then, yesterday, the Cavs waived Nailon, and re-signed Graham for the remainder of the season.

Why did they go through these gyrations? Everyone knew money was a factor in the deal, but it turns out that the entire transaction was motivated by the 76ers' desire to reduce their payroll and avoid issues under the NBA's luxury tax system. In light of the Cavs' decision to cut Nailon loose right away, my guess is that the condition in the conditional pick wasn't Nailon's playing time with the Cavs, but where the two teams finish the regular season. If the Sixers finish with a better record than the Cavaliers, they probably get nothing. On the other hand, as this article points out, by sending him to the Cavs, the Sixers avoid having Nailon's $835,000 salary count against the team's tax threshold of $61.7 million.

None of this high-finance helped the Cavs last night, as they went down in flames to the Wizards, 102-94.

Nailon hasn't played since he was arrested in January for allegedly smacking around his wife. I'm sure that's all just a terrible misunderstanding, but his release now frees Nailon to devote all of his efforts to clearing his name. If he has time, perhaps he can join O.J. in the hunt for the real killers.

Winston Justice

Any team with needs to address on the offensive line has to give some consideration to USC Tackle Winston Justice, and he's been mentioned more than a few times as a possible first round selection for the Browns. Justice is another guy with huge upside potential, but he is also regarded as being pretty raw. He only started playing football during his sophomore year at Long Beach Poly High School. Justice learned fast during his tenure with the Jackrabbits, and had matured enough as a player to start 12 games during his freshman year with the Trojans.

At 6'6" and 300 lbs., Justice is a bit undersized for the Tackle position by NFL standards. He played Right Tackle at USC, but bear in mind that Leinart is left handed, so he's done backside protection his entire college career. He also suffered from missing the entire 2004 season, for reasons I'll tell you about in a second, and supposedly looked bad at times last season.

Still, the biggest issues with Justice aren't on the field, but off. Justice was suspended for the entire 2004 season after pleading no contest to charges arising out of brandishing what turned out to be a pellet gun during a dispute with another student. This came on the heels of another no contest plea to a misdemeanor count of solicitation of prostitution. These aren't particularly heinous crimes by NFL standards, but if the Browns are thinking seriously about Justice, they better make sure they do their homework on these issues.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cavs' Deadline Deals

The Cavs made some moves before the deadline, picking up Guard Flip Murray from the Sonics in exchange for Mike Wilks and cash. The team also picked up former Cav Lee Nailon and a second round pick from the 76ers, who got the Cavs' 2006 second round pick in exchange.

Brian Windhorst likes the deals, and from a fan's perspective, they're certainly easier to swallow than last year's Jiri Welsch fiasco. The deals aren't blockbusters, but they improve the team by adding depth where it was needed without mortgaging the future. You can't rule out a second half collapse by any Cleveland team in any sport, but these trades certainly seem to make what happened last season less likely.

Now, on that modestly positive note, I'll point you to a couple of different perspectives on the rest of the Cavs' season. God Hates Cleveland Sports says the glass is most definitely half empty, while Cleveland Sports Perspective says its half full. You guys go ahead and duke it out over the Cavs. I'll sit here and worry about whether the Browns might actually draft Davin Joseph.

Russ Lande's Mock Draft

CBS's NFL draft analyst Russ Lande is getting a lot of attention for his QB position ratings, mostly because he rates Texas' Vince Young as the 6th best QB in this year's draft, behind the likes of Northwestern's Brent Basanez and Georgia's D.J. Shockley. The best take on this rating was supplied by Wesdaddy24, who left a comment on's story about it to the effect that he was expecting to see Uncle Rico ranked on Lande's chart. I don't know about that, although I've heard that Uncle Rico was really something back in '82.

Anyway, Russ Lande has a mock draft that has the Browns drafting Oklahoma Guard Davin Joseph with the 12th pick. Absolutely nobody else has Joseph going that high in the draft. Most of the mock drafts that I've seen have Joseph as a late second round pick, although his stock is rising and Tampa Bay reportedly may have an interest in selecting him with their first round pick (#23). Joseph is a good prospect, but he spent his senior year playing out-of-position, due to the significant losses that Oklahoma experienced along the offensive line after the 2004 season. Based on what I've read, most people don't see him playing Tackle in the NFL, and if the Browns use that pick on an offensive lineman, I'd like to see them take a Tackle.

Lande was a college scout for the Browns during the Davis regime, and also spent some time with the Rams. His GM Jr. draft book is published annually, and I guess he's as respected as any of the other talking heads when it comes to the draft. Nevertheless, it would surprise me if the Browns spent their first pick on Joseph.

On the other hand, I also have discovered that Lande's got some credibility when it comes to QBs--he had Tim Couch rated as only the 6th best quarterback in the 1999 draft based on his grading system and around the 50th best player overall. In hindsight, that was a pretty good call. So, while Lande's assessment of Vince Young's talent seems absurd, maybe teams that are thinking about Young ought to give Uncle Rico another look. Hey, you don't want to make the same mistake that Coach made back in '82.

Browns Update

Good articles in the Canton Repository and the News Herald over the last couple of days about the Browns' draft plans.

Steve Doerschuk's story in yesterday's Repository notes that Phil Savage has conceded more than a passing interest in selecting Oregon NT Haloti Ngata if he's still around when the Browns are on the clock. Doerschuk also has some insights from Savage on the Browns' priorities in free agency. In today's News Herald, Jeff Schudel writes about the combine and the draft analysis that the Browns are going through. In Schudel's piece, Savage pours some cold water on speculation that the team might select Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler with its first round pick.

The Browns made a little of their own news today, when they released Kennard Lang and Michael Lehan. Here's the story from the Browns' website.

By the way, if you're interested on staying on top of local media coverage of the Browns' offseason moves, I highly recommend the website. They do a great job compiling newspaper and internet stories on the Browns. (That's where I found the two articles I referenced in this post.)

Nice Story for a Dreary Day

On a day when the Cavs lost, the U.S. Olympic Hockey team went down in flames, and the stories about spring training just serve to remind you that the Tribe's in Florida, and you're not, I thought you might like this story from my old stomping grounds. It's about a waterboy for Greece-Athena high school in Rochester, New York--and no, his name isn't Bobby Boucher.

I guess I should've said former waterboy, because that's a more accurate description of him, after his coach decided to reward him for his dedication by putting him in uniform for the last game of his senior year. Of course, an even more accurate description of him now is the new holder of the school record for three pointers in a single game. Check out the kid's story here.

Update: The kid's story's going national in a big way. Check out the CBS News' video here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tribe TV

This post from Cleveland Scores suggests that the Indians are well on their way to screwing up their new television venture by trying to hold the cable companies hostage. I understand the need to maximize revenue streams, but if the Tribe thinks fans are going to blame the cable company if there are problems getting games on TV this season, they're mistaken.

Tribe TV is the Indians' baby, and everybody knows it. They were so enamored with the concept of their own network that they decided to walk away from FSN Ohio, which did a decent job of local coverage for the past several years. The network has the potential to be a bonanza for the Indians and local sports fans, but if Tribe TV doesn't work right, fans will blame the Indians.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Les Levine's Looking Forward to Hearing From Savage

I have always respected Les Levine. I think that he stands head and shoulders above the other Cleveland sports talkers in terms of credibility, and I know Vinny respects him as well. There's a reason you don't hear Les broadcasting during the morning or afternoon drive on the official mouthpieces of the local franchises--he has an annoying habit of telling the truth. That's why this post on his blog is encouraging to me. My perception of Phil Savage has been that he isn't going to blow smoke at us, and that seems to be Levine's perception of him as well. This informal meeting with the media should be interesting.

LeBron James: All Star MVP

Yes, I know LeBron was named MVP of the NBA All-Star Game. If you're excited about that meaningless feat, you're part of the problem that has plagued this town's sports teams for the last 42 years.

Let's be crystal clear about this--LeBron's award doesn't mean squat. Only championships mean a damn thing: not individual awards, not fantastic finishes, not inspirational performances, not moral victories, not local heroes, not nice media write ups --ONLY championships.

And Cleveland has none, for those of you keeping track.

Ricky Williams

About all I can say is: Jeezes, what an idiot!

Huh? No, I'm not talking about Ricky Williams, I'm talking about Mike Shanahan. How friggin' insane is this guy? Remember, Ricky Williams' alleged drug test screw-up was disclosed by the Denver media because Shanahan was thinking about trading for the guy. This comes on the heels of media reports that the Broncos are hot and heavy after Mr. "No 'I' in Team" himself, Terrell Owens.

Wow. No risk of a Boy Scout convention in the Mile High City this year, huh? Too bad Ricky flunked his drug test--he'd have been a great roomie for Gerard Warren.

Mike, I know it sticks in your craw that you haven't been back to the Super Bowl since Horseface retired, and you're desperate for that missing piece that will put you over the top. I sympathize with your plight (just kidding--screw you!), but going after every miscreant in the NFL isn't going to get you another ring unless you change your uniform colors to Silver and Black (and Al Davis already fired you once).

RIP Curt Gowdy

Curt Gowdy died today at the ripe old age of 86. He broadcast everything from Red Sox games to The American Sportsman, but I remember him most as a football broadcaster partnered with Al DeRogatis during the late 1960s and early 1970s. During the 1960s, Gowdy was the voice of the AFL, and during the 197os, he called some of the most memorable football games I ever saw. Of course, Gowdy was first and foremost a baseball announcer, but I always thought pro football was where he did his best work.

Oh Well, Whatever, Never Mind

Bode Miller, Olympic slacker all-star, supposedly has his best remaining shot at winning a medal in today's Giant Slalom. For those of you who missed it, Miller wiffed in the Super G on Saturday, and after one run, things ain't looking too good for our boy today either. The media is already crucifying him. Good. Bode appears to be well on his way to being the biggest Olympic bust since Duane Bobick.

I do, however, have good news for Bode: I think I found a nice lady for him. Her name is Lindsey Jacobellis. As you'll recall, she's the nitwit snowboarder who hot-dogged her way out of a Gold medal last week when she fell down after doing a trick right before the finish line of the final. Smart move, Lindsey!

What makes Lindsey perfect for Bode is how she reacted to her mishap. First, she tried to B.S. her way out of it by explaining that what we thought was a bit of hot-dogging was a tactical move. Uh-huh. Then, when she came clean, she told us that she was "fine" with her Silver medal: "I'm fine with it. It's just a race. I know it's the Olympics and everyone has been trying to get a reaction out of me by saying that, but no matter how many times they say it, it's not going to change how I feel."

Smells Like Teen Spirit, doesn't it? Kurt Cobain would be so proud of these two.

As Mrs. Rhino said to me when we heard Jacobellis' comments on the radio, "I guess these are the kind of Olympic athletes you get when you spend the last 25 years boosting everyone's self-esteem."

Update: Bode's now officially 0 for 4.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Kent St. 80, Butler 76

What a wild game! Butler gave Kent State all it could handle this afternoon, although Butler had more than a little help from the officials. Still, the Flashes overcame the Bulldogs and the zebras to win a thriller in overtime.

The two teams played a competitive if sloppy first half and were knotted up at 31-31 at halftime. Butler dominated most of the second half, but after trailing by as much as nine points, Kent State rallied and sent the game into overtime when DeAndre Haynes drained a three-pointer with 10 seconds left.

Kent State grabbed the lead in overtime and kept it. Jay Youngblood hit a big three pointer and followed it with another bucket, Kent State played tough defense, and Butler finally missed a couple of three point shots. ( On paper, Butler was nothing special from three point land (10-25), but ask anybody who was at the MAC Center, and they'll tell you that Butler seemed to nail long-distance threes whenever Kent State started to rally.) The Flashes put Butler in a position where they had to foul, and then iced the game with free throws, going 6 for 8 from the line during OT.

The referees were godawful. There are lots of ways referees can do a bad job -- overofficiate, underofficiate, call the game one way for 38 minutes, and then call it differently for the last two minutes, etc. But these officials did the worst thing a crew can do: They called the game one way at the Butler end of the court, and another at the Kent State end.

For example, Butler had a wide body forward named Brian Ligon who spent the entire day throwing elbows, and ended up with only two personal fouls. In contrast, I don't think a Kent State player's forearm went up all day without a whistle being blown. What was a charge when Butler had the ball was a blocking foul when Kent State was in possession. Lots of calls were made away from the ball at the Kent State end, but none at Butler's end, despite equally physical play underneath both baskets.

In short, I haven't seen officiating this bad since the Super Bowl.

Still, all things considered, it was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Here's a link to the box score and other game information, if you're interested.

It's Here.

"Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart."

~~~Victor Hugo

Pitchers and catchers reported this week and the hitters will start making their way to Florida and Arizona. For the four decades of my life this has traditionally been the time when the Indians are closest to winning the World Series.

As a boy, I remember people sitting around and talking about how Sam McDowell can win 25, if he only stays off the sauce; that Vada Pinson is the answer; that we robbed the Yankees by giving them Craig Nettles (who'd previously cost us Luis Tiant) for Charlie Spikes; and that we robbed 'em again when we unloaded former Rookie of the Year, Chris Chambliss, and Dick Tidrow for Fritz Peterson.

As I got older, the expectations of my friends and neighbors became a little more tempered: Joe Charboneau will take this team to the Series; Cory Snyder will be the greatest shortstop in Major League history; Joe Carter and Mel Hall will push this team over the top; and the Yankees will lose because they can't keep winning.

As jaded as I am, I can't help it. I love the potential of the Tribe in the spring. However, that doesn't mean I think the Indians will win squat. After all, Larry Dolan is still holding the purse strings here.

I'll follow this with my thoughts on Spring Training and the Tribe's chances in '06, but for today, I'll just fantasize about what could have been and what could be.

Basketball Hall of Fame Finalists: An In Depth Analysis

Dominique Wilkins - Yes
Charles Barkley - Yes
Adrian Dantley - Yes
Ralph Sampson - No
Dave Gavitt - Yes
Gene Keady - No (That one's for you, Bobby)
Chet Walker - No
Don Nelson - No
Dick Vitale - No way baby!
Van Chancellor - Who
Pedro Ferrandiz - the
Sandro Gamba - Hell
John Isaacs -- are
Ben Kerner - these people?

For the record, Van Chancellor coached the Houston Comets to--yawn-- four straight WNBA titles. Pedro Ferrandiz used to coach in Spain. Click here for a particularly tiresome online bio of him. Sandro Gamba is some Italian dude. John Isaacs played for the first all-black National Basketball League team in 1949. Ben Kerner owned the St. Louis Hawks.

When does baseball start?


Dr. Albert and Mr. Joey has struck again. Albert "Joey" Belle, the former mercurial slugger for the '95 Indians and Mr. No Shot at the Hall of Fame, was arrested for stalking his ex-girlfriend. He allegedly had attached a global positioning system to her car and followed her around Scottsdale, Arizona.

When the AP contacted him for a comment, he declined. He said something like, "you guys never write the good stuff about me." How pathetic. But, in an effort to give equal time here on Vinny and the Hornless Rhino, it must be said that Joey was nice to his grandmother...once.

I guess Joey is finding the poon faucet is shut now that he's just another guy and no longer a major leaguer.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Bracket Buster

I improved my weekend sports outlook by deciding to give Mrs. Rhino a break and take the kids to the Kent State v. Butler "bracket buster" game tomorrow afternoon. This should be an interesting match-up. Butler, which doesn't have a player taller than 6'7", is 17-9 overall and 1/2 game behind Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Horizon League. Kent's 18-7 and tied with Akron for the top spot in the Mid-American Conference's Eastern Division. Both teams have been hot of late, with Butler going 9-3 over the past month and Kent going 12-2 since January 1st.

The only downside is that the game's at Kent State. There's nothing wrong with the MAC Center, which is a quirky but likeable arena, but Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse is one of those old basketball cathedrals, like The Palestra, where I'd love to see a game. You've all seen Hinkle Fieldhouse--it was where Hickory played South Bend Central for the state championship in Hoosiers.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Daytona 500

Don't give a rat's ass about this either. Unless NBC starts showing some Olympic hockey, weekend sports viewing is not shaping up too good.

NBA All-Star Weekend

If you give a damn, here's a link. I don't, so this is the last you'll hear from me about it.

Aaron Burr is the Real Slim Shady

One of our commenters suggested that we lay off The Great White Hunter because, while he may have dodged the draft, he did shoot somebody. Fair enough, but this feat pales in comparison to that of the last Vice President to pop a cap in somebody's ass.

Aaron Burr, now there was a gangsta! Cheney barely managed to wing a 78-year old lawyer that nobody ever heard of. Aaron Burr wasted the dude on the ten dollar bill. Not only that, Burr then ran off and tried to set up his own country. But, and here's the great thing--he beat the rap both times! The man was more teflon than the Teflon Don.

Bottom line: Aaron Burr's Slim Shady, he's the real Slim Shady, and old Dick Cheney he's just imitating.

We're Relentlessly Non-Partisan

Lest you think we're a Democratic Party mouthpiece, here's a little "equal time" on The Great White Hunter:

If you're so inclined, you can pull up your jack boots and buy this item here.


"I had a beer at lunch....No one was drinking."

~~~Vice President of the United States Richard Cheney

The Draft Plot Thickens

Here's an interesting tidbit from Steve Doerschuk's Browns team report on The Sporting News website. Apparently, Phil Savage is thinking hard about using the team's first pick to select Southern Cal RB LenDale White or Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler. Doerschuk says that the "cold sweat" topic of the offseason is whether the team should cast its lot with Charlie Frye at the QB position. Charlie's got a ton of positives, but the team's just not sure if he's got the talent.

For what it's worth, I think going with Frye next season is the smart play. Frye may not be able to throw a ball through a brick wall, but he's intelligent and a leader who performed adequately--and sometimes more than adequately--when he was given a chance. Plus, this team desperately needs some continuity at the QB position if they're ever going to have a chance to get some consistent offensive production.

As to LenDale White, I'd love to see him in a Browns uniform, but running back is an area of relative strength for the team, and they don't have the luxury of making a pick like that. Of course, that assumes that White would even be there for the 12th pick. His stock is rising fast, and a spot in the top 10 isn't out of the question for a guy as big and as fast as White.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Things to Do Before I Die: Watch a Basketball Game at The Palestra

One of the (very) few colleges that recruited me to play football when I was in high school was The University of Pennsylvania. Of course, for a big-time prospect like me, being "recruited" meant that they sent me a letter, an assistant coach shook my hand at school, I sent them a film, and then I never heard from them again.

Still, I was a senior in high school the year that Penn went to the Final Four. Their football coaching staff hadn't dropped me like a bad habit yet, so I remember rooting for them. I guess it was about that time that I started to hear about the magic of The Palestra, an 80-year old, 8,700 seat arena that serves as the home court not only for Penn, but hosts all of the games between any of Philadelphia's Big Five basketball programs (Penn, LaSalle, St. Joe's, Villanova and Temple).

If you want to get a sense for why The Palestra is so special, read this interview with a woman who played basketball for Penn and made a documentary about it called The Palestra: Cathedral of College Basketball.

I've actually been by The Palestra many times. I've got a bunch of relatives who attended St. Joe's, and they've been there many times for games. I've never attended a game there, but it's definitely on my "before I die" list.

New Links

In case you missed them, I've added a handful of new links: God Hates Cleveland Sports, World's Most Tortured Fans, Cleveland Sports Curse, and Red Right 88. Gee, do you see a theme here? Oh, yeah, I also added one from a guy who's apparently still on his meds: Cleveland Sports Perspective.

I particular commend to you a blistering post from God Hates Cleveland Sports on the truly despicable Boston fans. This guy's got game.

By the way, Coach Tressel got the hovercraft he's been coveting.

What's the Deal with this Bode Miller Guy?

You know, sportsmanship is great, and not treating the Olympics like your life depended on them is great too, but I can't understand how somebody could work so hard to get in position to win a medal, and then not give a damn when he doesn't. That's why I can't figure Bode Miller out. He's nonchalanted his way through two events where he ended up without medals. Miller was "really happy" with a downhill performance that left him out of the hardware, and then was completely indifferent to being disqualified in his next event --even though he was practically guaranteed a Gold medal if he didn't DQ.

Nike's spent a ton of money hyping this guy, and NBC's done its share for him too, but unless he figures out a way to grab a Gold medal, he's going to be marketing poison. Americans love brash, outspoken guys who say outrageous things-- if they win. Americans do not like people who lose, and really don't like people who lose and don't mind it. Vinny's hero, General Patton, said it best: "Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed."

Bode Miller flies down mountains at 80 mph, so he's nobody's idea of a coward, but if Miller thinks his slacker act is playing well at home, he's going to learn an expensive lesson when he returns.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day Tip: John Cusack

Hey guys, tonight is not the night to fight with your wife or girlfriend over which movie to watch. That being said, unless you want to end up with The Notebook or, God forbid, something with Debra Winger in it, you need to take charge right now.

Stop at the video store on the way home and rent something with John Cusack in it. Trust me, women love this guy, and he's also been in some movies that, while they may not be classics, beat the crap out of the Valentine's Day film viewing alternatives. Try The Sure Thing, Say Anything, High Fidelity or Grosse Pointe Blank. Steer clear of Being John Malkovich (too edgy) or True Colors (too crappy).

Happy Valentine' s Day.

Uh oh.

While the White House and the Governor of Florida were yukking it up about the guy Uncle Dick shot, the guy suffered a heart attack. It seems that buckshot had pierced his heart.

Mr. Vice President, I'm Winston Wolf. I Solve Problems.

Hey, in light of our Vice President's little faux pas and the heat the administration is taking over it, it's probably time for the White House to rethink its approach to damage control in these situations. After all, this isn't Dick Cheney's first brush with the law. Our Vice President boasts not one, but two DUI convictions. Those are troubling in their own right, but they're nowhere near as disturbing as what went down at Camp Crystal Lake.

If the Vice President is going to keep getting himself into these scrapes, he needs more help than the Secret Service can provide. He needs The Wolf--Winston Wolf.

I can almost hear the call from Cheney to the White House now.

Update: Cheney beats the rap.

After the Kill

I t hink this is Uncle Dick posing for the AP photographers after the shooting.

Kill the Wabbit. Kill the Wabbit.

Now that the Rhino has corrected an oversight by posting about college basketball, I think we should hit some of the other sports we've neglected, like hunting. It's a huge sport. Wikipedia says that, in 2001, over 13 million hunters spent 18 days hunting and spent $20.5 Billion on the sport.

To baby boomers, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and Elmer Fudd may be the most memorable hunters of the generation. They've now been eclipsed.

It's not every day that hunting gets covered in feature news. Usually Darcy Egan handles that on page 8 of the sports section. But when the Vice President of the United States shoots an attorney, that's news. The last time that happened is when Aaron Burr gunned down Alexander Hamilton, another attorney.

It's no secret that the Prez and VP have utter disdain for attorneys. That's why it surprised me when Uncle Dick didn't take a trophy, or at least notify the media to brag about it.

Maybe, like some other hunters, Uncle Dick was too liquored up to do either. I'm sure that the breathalyzer test they took on the scene will dispel that nasty rumor. Oh yeah. The secret service didn't let the local authorities speak to the Vice Prez, let alone have him blow. Well, we can just take his word that "alcohol wasn't involved." I'm satisfied.

Monday, February 13, 2006

College Hoops

A buddy of mine called today and chastised us for not writing about college hoops. He's absolutely right--tis the season for college basketball. That point was driven home by two big upsets in as many days. A short while ago, #4 Villanova upended #1 UConn 69-64, demonstrating yet again what a minefield the Big East can be. Closer to home, Ohio State's Je'Kel Foster and Jamar Butler combined for 11 of 14 3-pointers yesterday to help lift the 17th ranked Buckeyes over #9 Illinois by a score of 69-53. Considering Greg Oden and the rest of the Thad Five don't show up until next season, the Buckeyes are pretty impressive.

Speaking of the Thad Five, has "next year" ever loomed so large to Ohio State hoops fans? Ohio State's epic recruiting class is headlined by seven foot All-World center Greg Oden. The class also includes Mike Conley, a teammate of Oden's at Indianapolis' Lawrence North High and one of the nation's top three point guards, and the two best shooting guards in Ohio, Villa Angela-St. Joseph's David Lighty and Dayton Dunbar's Daequan Cook. 6'9" power forward Othello Hunter rounds out a class that has been compared to Michigan's Fab Five of the early 1990s. In fact, with what Motta and Tressel are bringing to the table next season, it's entirely possible that Ohio State could be the preseason #1 in both football and basketball.

But getting back to this season, March Madness is rapidly approaching. In addition to rooting for the downfall of traditional powers like Duke and UConn, we can look forward to the possibility of some newcomers going deep into the tournament. Teams like Villanova, George Washington (Mrs. Rhino's beloved alma mater) and Tennessee have legitimate shots. I suppose it's even possible that before Ohio State gets its preseason #1 ranking in two sports, Texas could wind up with national championships in those same two sports. Meanwhile schools like Bucknell, the Patriot League giant-killer that cracked the top 25 this week despite not offering basketball scholarships, are lurking as possible Cinderellas.

Wow, it's enough to get your blood pressure up to dangerous levels, isn't it? Let's mellow out with some really dreadful poetry written by Duke's J.J. Redick. I'm sure seeing this kind of dreck from a Duke student makes the Chair of Duke's English Department long for a hunting invitation from Dick Cheney.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

February 12, 1809

That's the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of these United States. He saved the Union; freed the slaves; supported the building of the transcontinental railroad; and passed the National Bank Act, which effectively established the country's banking system as we know it. Most historians rank him as one of the three or four greatest presidents in history.

Today was formerly a national holiday, but that changed. So, what's a president gotta do to get a day?

The NFL is Now a Paul McGuire Free Zone has an outstanding post on the end of a 20-year nightmare for viewers of ESPN's Sunday Night Football--of course, I refer to the Paul McGuire reign of terror. Reasonable people can disagree about who is the best football broadcaster of all time, but McGuire wins the award for the worst in a landslide.

The only thing I want to add to what Deadspin had to say about McGuire is that if you think he was lousy on ESPN, you should've seen what he was like when he was first starting out. I know, because I watched this ass clown do Buffalo Bills preseason games in the 1970s. He was as inane then as he is now, but he also had a tendency to giggle uncontrollably over almost any remark that was made, even his own. (My Dad nicknamed the guy "Chuckles," and would get so frustrated with his antics that he'd just turn the game off.)

Somehow, he fixed the giggling, or at least moderated it. Sadly, that's the only thing he improved on over the years.

Speaking of broadcasters, I think it's fair to say that Al Michaels' massive ego must have taken an equally massive hit when it dawned on him that Disney/ABC/ESPN traded him to NBC for the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Al, you may have finagled a way thumb your nose at cable and preserve your lofty status as a network guy, but I bet that the ESPN people are laughing harder than Paul McGuire at a Bills exhibition game.

Coco Crisp v. Jason Michaels

Sheldon Ocker covers the Tribe for the Beacon-Journal and has been somewhat critical of the Crisp deal. Today, the Beacon-Journal published his responses to fans' letters about the transaction. In one of those responses, Ocker reiterated one of his concerns about the deal:

"The allure of Jason Michaels is based almost solely on his on-base percentage as a part-time player.

But on-base percentage isn't everything. A better measurement of a hitter's value is how often he gets himself into scoring position (by double, triple, homer, steal).

Michaels doesn't run and doesn't amass many extra-base hits. In the past two years, he has gotten himself to second or beyond only 18 percent of the time he reaches base. Crisp, by contrast, has reached second or farther 34 percent of time, a substantial difference over a 550-at-bat season."

I agree with Ocker's comments about the limited basis for people to be upbeat about Michaels and his conclusion that OBP isn't everything. However, I think he misses the boat in the statistics he chooses to use to measure the difference between the two men. There are a number of statistics beyond batting average and OBP that are essential in measuring the overall offensive productivity of a player. The most notable of these, and the one usually regarded as the best measure of productivity, is OPS, or On-Base Plus Slugging. Sheldon Ocker knows that, so why bash the Crisp trade with a more obscure, and likely less valid, offensive statistic?

Maybe because if you don't like the Crisp deal due to its potential impact on the Tribe's 2006 season, you don't want to hear about OPS. Jason Michaels has a career OBP of .380 and a slugging percentage of .442. Coco Crisp has a career OBP of .332 and a slugging percentage of .424. That means that Michaels has a lifetime OPS of .812, compared to Coco's .756. Even though Coco had his best year last season, and posted an OPS of .809, Michaels was still more productive, with an OPS of .814.

Now, does this mean I'd prefer to have Jason Michaels in the Tribe's lineup instead of Coco Crisp? Of course not. Michaels is a part time player who will be 30 years old in May and who shows limited upside potential. Crisp is three years younger, just coming into his own as a big leaguer, and could be somebody special. All I'm saying is that if Michaels can produce full-time with the Indians in a manner consistent with what he's done in a part-time role with the Phillies, then the Crisp deal may not hurt the Tribe's performance in 2006. That's the good news. The bad news is that Michaels' performance as a full-time player is a very big "if" indeed.

Update: For a wittier critique of Ocker's column this morning, click on over to Let's Go Tribe.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Art Shell Finally Gets a Second Chance

The Oakland Raiders officially rehired Art Shell as their head coach today, righting a wrong that was done more than a decade ago. Despite going 56-41 and leading his team to three playoff appearances and one AFC Championship game in six years, this is the first head coaching opportunity Shell's had since the Raiders fired him after the 1994 season.

Bill Belichick went 5-11 in his last year in Cleveland, and waited only three seasons for another opportunity. Art Shell went 9-7 in his last year in Oakland, and he had to wait 11 seasons. Meanwhile, the phone never stopped ringing for retreads like Norv Turner, Dom Capers, Dave Wannstadt and Dick Jauron. Wonder what the difference between Shell and these guys could be? Hmmm.

The Cleveland Browns interviewed Art Shell for the job in 1999, but went with Chris Palmer instead. As Vinny will attest, I thought that was a mistake. Shell was a Hall of Fame offensive tackle, and he knows line play and appreciates its importance. That's why I think Shell would have been a good choice for the new Browns.

Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but if Shell had been at the helm, I doubt he'd have let the Cleveland Browns talk themselves into the idea that an expansion team could cobble together an effective offensive line via free agency and late round picks. I think that bit of foolishness is the single biggest reason that the Browns find themselves starting on their third five-year plan in seven years.

I'm glad he got a second chance, and I will be rooting for Art Shell next season, but he's walking into a terrible situation in Oakland. That team leads the league in clubhouse cancers, and if he doesn't win fast, Davis will not hesitate to pull the plug on him yet again.

Babe Ruth: On the big stage

"Now I've had everything except for the thrill of watching Babe Ruth play."

---Joe DiMaggio

Keep in mind that DiMaggio was banging Marilyn Monroe. But, he still felt that he had missed something special---seeing the great Bambino play ball.

One thing that the skeptic might ask is how did the Babe respond to the pressure of the post-season? Was he like Barry ('roid freak---allegedly)Bonds, who has been miserable or did he come through like a man?

The Babe's post-season hitting statistics include a .326 batting average and a .744 slugging percentage. He also stole 4 bases.

His post-season pitching stats are even better. In 31 innings, he posted a 3-0 record and a 0.87 ERA.

You make the call.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Keeping LeBron in Cleveland

The Cavs got beat by the Wizards tonight 101-89, but the news isn't all bad. Brian Windhorst, who covers the Cavs for the Beacon-Journal, wrote a really comprehensive article for on the extraordinary efforts that Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry are making to ensure that LeBron James stays a Cleveland Cavalier for many years to come.

As a long-time Northeast Ohio resident and someone who never saw a glass that wasn't half empty, I've always been skeptical about the Cavs' ability to hang on to LeBron. This article actually makes me somewhat optimistic. Read it when you get a chance.

Bob and Babe Day: Celebrating Fat Boys Who Made Good

As I was enjoying our website's celebration of Babe Ruth Week, I stumbled across an interesting fact: the Bambino shares his birthday with none other than the Tribe's own Bob Wickman. Since the Babe also shares Wickman's (and my own) waist size, I thought it would be fitting to pay tribute to some of the other great fat guys in the history of sports.

Before we start, let me make it clear that I'm not going to talk about the guys who are just scary big (like every current NFL linemen). Instead, I'm just going to throw out a short list of some rolly-polly fat boys that nobody would mistake for great athletes, except for the fact that they were.

Anyway, in the words of another famous fat guy, a-waay we go!

Wilbur "Fats" Henry, pictured above, is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Henry played the offensive and defensive line for the Canton Bulldogs. Like Ruth, his pudgy appearance masked tremendous athletic ability-- Henry once punted a ball 94 yards and drop-kicked a 50 yard field goal.

Tony Gwynn was a career .338 hitter who picked up 3,141 hits in his 20 years with the Padres and is an almost certain first ballot Hall of Famer. In his early days, Gwynn was a fairly prolific base stealer. In 1987, Gwynn stole 56 bases; shortly thereafter, he began a love affair with the buffet line that continues to this day. In his later years, Gwynn was listed at 5'11" and 220 lbs. That's almost as funny as Bob Wickman being listed at 6'1" and 240 lbs. Rival fans were notorious for giving Gwynn a hard time about his weight. At Wrigley Field, Cubs fans would chant "Snack Bar" every time he came to the plate, and frequently threw Snickers bars at him. I'm sure that bruised his self-esteem, but perhaps his eight NL batting titles and five Gold Gloves provided some consolation to him.

Art Donovan is another fat guy made good. Not only did he get himself elected to the Hall of Fame as a defensive tackle, but his book Fatso: Football When Men Were Really Men was so entertaining that he became a staple of the talk show circuit. Even today, it seems unthinkable for ESPN to air a Sports Century episode focusing on an old-time football player without Donovan's ample mug getting some air time.

John Kruk is baseball's answer to Art Donovan. He will be forever famous for his response to a woman who criticized him for being for being too fat to be an athlete: "Lady, I ain't no athlete, I'm a ballplayer." He was a pretty good one too. Kruk was a lifetime .300 hitter and had a career on-base percentage of .397. He was selected to three All-Star Games, and had one of the most hilarious at-bats in history during the 1993 Game. Randy Johnson gave Kruk some 98 mph chin music with his first pitch, and Kruk flailed away at the rest of Johnson's pitches while he tried to move as far away from the plate as he could as quickly as he could. Kruk can now be seen bursting out of his four button suits as an analyst on ESPN's Baseball Tonight.

There you have it, a handful of great fatties in honor of Wickie and the Babe. Now the big question: would Angelina be seen in public with any of us?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Babe Week Continues

"I promise to go easier on drinking and to get to bed earlier, but not for you, fifty thousand dollars, or two-hundred fifty thousand dollars will I give up women. They're too much fun."

---Babe Ruth

That's what The Great Bambino once said. To the right is a great babe. Maybe he was thinking about someone like her when he said it. But, the real reason Angela Jolie is gracing our blog is that my wife had a dream about her. My wife dreamed that she and I met Angelina Jolie and her girlfriend while on vacation. After yukking it up and having a few drinks, Angelina and I ended up in the sack with my wife and the girlfriend watching. When it started getting nasty and sweaty, the girlfriend got really pissed off and told my wife that Angelina was just using me. Then she berated my wife for allowing it to happen. My wife explained to her that, long ago, she had given me a free pass to have sex with Angelina Jolie if the opportunity ever presented itself.

I asked my wife if, in her dream, I had a good time despite being "used." She admitted that I had and described me as "witless" in my pleasure.

That's ok. So, I was used and none the wiser for it. I can live with that. I'm just happy that my wife is a sport.

More Bambino

"If it wasn't for baseball, I'd be in either the penitentiary or the cemetery."
---George Herman Ruth

What could have been. The Great Bambino's pitching record looks like this:

1915... 18-8.... 2.44 ERA
1916... 23-12... 1.75 ERA (9 shutouts)
1917... 24-13... 2.01 ERA (35 complete games)

By 1918, the Red Sox began using him more as an outfielder, when he promptly led the AL with 11 Homers.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Olympic Hockey

Have I driven you guys nuts with all the hockey posts lately? Too bad. I like hockey, and tonight, I want to talk about Olympic hockey, since it's one of the few things at the games that's worth tuning in to watch.

What are the U.S. chances for gold this time around? Pretty slim. Although the U.S. team lost to Canada for the gold medal the last time around, this year's U.S. team is led by 44 year-old Chris Chelios, and many of his teammates are similarly long in tooth. Yikes.

The Canadians, on the other hand, should dominate the competition. For example, the Canadians have all-stars Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo between the pipes. Defensemen include some of the NHL's best: Rob Blake, Wade Redden, Brian McCabe, and Chris Pronger. Forwards include the likes of Simone Gagne and Jarome Iginlia, not to mention Rick Nash of your Cowopolis Blue Jackets. Center Joe Thornton leads the NHL in assists and is second in points. In short, Canada's loaded for bear, and it will be a big upset if they don't come away with the Gold.

Other contenders include the usual suspects: Sweden, Russia and the Czech Republic. Slovakia is a dark horse, and Finland will be in the hunt, because they always are. The U.S. has the proverbial puncher's chance at a bronze medal. On the women's side, look for the customary showdown between the United States and Canada.

Canadians can be jackasses when it comes to hockey, but if the U.S. isn't a contender, I'm still rooting for them. I can't help it, I like Canada. They may think we're jerks, but their soldiers are standing side-by-side with ours in Afghanistan. Let's face it, as neighbors go, we're no bargain. On the other hand, say what you will about Canada, they beat the snot out of Mexico. By the way, they also have the best beer stores in the world, the best candy bar ever invented, and my pal Don Cherry.

Not to mention, of course, their greatest contribution to world culture: the good old hockey game.

Eric Winston

Eric Winston of The U has been mentioned in several mock drafts as a possible Browns #1 pick. Winston is an offensive tackle, but was recruited as a tight end and actually played that position for the Hurricanes as a freshman. In fact, it was Winston--not Kellen Winslow--that Ken Dorsey was trying to get the ball to when Matt Wilhelm batted it away to end the greatest football game ever played and clinch the 2002 National Championship for the Buckeyes.

Winston gained 35 lbs. and moved to tackle in 2003. He has developed quickly since then, despite missing most of the 2004 season after tearing an ACL in the fourth game. Winston's currently listed at 6'7" and 312 lbs., and runs a 5.0 forty. Given that he started out at tight end, it's perhaps not surprising that Winston's scouting report suggests that he may be the most athletic tackle in the draft. Negatives include limited experience at the tackle position, questions about whether his knee has fully recovered, and concerns about whether he can beef up without losing quickness.

NFL Retirees' Website

We received a comment on the Montana and Bradshaw post from Maureen Kilcullen, one of the webmasters of a site called NFL Former Players, suggesting that readers visit that site for more information on the hardships faced by some NFL retirees. I encourage our readers to read Ms. Kilcullen's comments and visit her website.

If you want to get a sense for how angry these retirees are about the way the NFL and the NFLPA have ignored their plight, read Nick Buoniconti's letter to Gene Upshaw that is posted on the site.

I'm adding a link to the retirees' website, and I encourage everyone to learn more about these issues and to let the league and union know that fans don't want the retired players to be overlooked during negotiations on the new collective bargaining agreement.

The NHL Could Learn a Few Things From Coach Tressel

Every sports league has scandals: the NFL has Rae Carruth, OJ Simpson and many other miscreants, the NBA has Kobe Bryant and the Portland Jailblazers, and MLB has steroids and the grandaddy of them all, the Black Sox. Still, when it comes down to the sheer weirdness of its scandals, you've got to tip your hat to the National Hockey League.

Only in the NHL will you find the head of the players' union doing a bad Jimmy Hoffa impersonation and ending up in the slammer for skimming money from the players' pension fund. That's what happened in 1998, when Alan Eagleson pleaded guilty to mail fraud and embezzlement charges and served six months in prison.

Only in the NHL will you find a player involved in a murder for hire plot against his agent, who may or may not also have been his lover (not that there's anything wrong with that).

And now, the latest in the "only in the NHL series"--Only in the NHL will you find the wife of the game's greatest hero, Janet Jones (aka Mrs. Wayne Gretzky), implicated in a gambling ring allegedly run by her husband's assistant coach.

The NHL and its officials should take a page from Coach Tressel, who keeps it cool and always comes out smelling like a rose--even when there's a dead hooker in his swimming pool.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Winter Olympiad

Da-dum, da-da dum dum-da-dum da-da dum, da-dum, da-da dum dum-da-dum da da.

The Winter Olympics are here! Yaaah!! Yaaaaaaahhhhh!!!

On the other hand, who the hell cares?

I don't like the Winter Olympics. In fact, the only two things about the Winter Olympics in my lifetime that haven't utterly sucked are the Miracle on Ice, and Franz Klammer's sick downhill run in 1976. I usually ignore them, but for a glimpse at the occasional hockey game or skiing event. In fact, just yesterday, I told a friend that I wasn't going to do any blogging on the Olympics, because they were so lame.

But I reluctantly changed my mind. After all, it's not every year that the Olympics are held in a town named for Starsky & Hutch's car. So, if the stoner skier mouths off or something else bizarre happens, you can rely on Vinny and the Hornless Rhino for the latest in Olympic news. If not, then you're stuck with watching NBC's coverage while Vinny and I try to come up with something intelligent to say about the Cavs.

When does baseball start anyway?

Babe Ruth Week---Day 2

"The only real game, I think, in the world is baseball."

---George Herman Ruth

The Ever-lovin' Babe led the American League in home runs 12 times: 1918-1921, 1923-1924, 1926-1931.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Montana and Bradshaw

Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw are taking a lot of heat from the media because they decided to skip out on the NFL's little pre-game party. Apparently, fans are supposed to be outraged that these guys wanted the NFL to come through with a little more coin, instead of just participating in the festivities because they "owe it to the game."

This is nonsense, and if you feel this way, well, you're an idiot.

The NFL is a business, and the league never takes its eye off the bottom line, not even for a minute. Nobody knows that more than guys like Bradshaw and Montana. Maybe Bradshaw would like to ask the NFL what it owes the families of guys like the late Mike Webster. According to the NFL, the answer seems to be not much. Mike Webster is in the Hall of Fame, and is one of the greatest centers ever to play the game, but 17 years of football left him with brain damage, and the last years of his life were hard ones.

While Webster's an extreme case, he's far from the only example of a life cut short by a pro football career. The statistics about illness and disability rates among former NFL players are sobering, while recent studies on early death rates are downright alarming. Many retired players feel the league and the union don't do enough to help retired players who are facing serious health and financial issues, and some of them, including Joe Montana, are becoming increasingly outspoken about this issue.

I know it's hard to sympathize with guys who made big bucks during their playing careers, but in many respects, the retirees have a legitimate beef. At the very least, Mike Webster's case suggests that the benefits process can be a bureaucratic mess. Furthermore, while the NFL has a fairly generous pension plan (although baseball's is much more lucrative), depending on when you retired, you must have played for three or four seasons in order to receive pension benefits, and therein lies the rub. According to a 2002 survey conducted by the NFL Players Association, the average pro career was 3.3 seasons, with running backs (2.57 years), wide receivers (2.81) and cornerbacks (2.94) all having average careers too short to allow them to vest in their pensions.

While the NFL loves to sing about the great partnership it has with its players, the truth is that it has gotten away with murder in comparison to other professional sports since it broke the NFLPA during the 1987 strike. Perhaps the most egregious example of how the league abuses its players is way it treats injuries suffered by players in NFL Europe. Those injuries are considered "non-football related," which means that an NFL team who delegates a player under contract to an NFL Europe team doesn't have to pay his salary if the player gets hurt.

The NFL just signed a $24 billion TV deal, has satellite TV and radio deals, and will broadcast some games on its own cable network beginning next Thanksgiving. Furthermore, the NFL never stops eagerly seeking ways to maximize revenues in other areas. The avarice of NFL owners is such that the unthinkable appears to be happening-- the usually somnolent Players Association has awakened, and is now threatening a strike or decertification after the collective bargaining agreement expires in 2007.

With all this as background, does anybody seriously want to contend that Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw owe you, me, the NFL or "the game" anything? Why is it never the owners who are expected to "give something back"? The NFL has never given anything away to anyone, so if Montana and Bradshaw refuse to play along with the league's sappy Super Bowl pre-game antics without cash on the barrel head, more power to them.

Happpy Birthday to the Greatest Baseball Player Ever.

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run."

---George Herman Ruth

February 6th is the Great Bambino's birthday. He remains the greatest baseball player in the history of the game. Home run hitters have come and gone. But, there's only one Sultan of Swat. Today, there are pumped up freaks who sully the American pasttime and confuse the casual observer as to what constitutes "greatness." Let's lay the confusion to rest.

In 1927, the Bambino hit 60 home runs in a 154-game schedule. His 60 homers counted for 14% of all the home runs hit by the entire American League. To put that in context for 2005, a batter would have had to hit 340 home runs to equal 14% of the American League's output.

Did he do it in the clutch? Babe remains the only player in MLB history to hit 3 home runs in two separate World Series games. He hit 3 in game 4 of the 1926 Series and did it again when he hit 3 home runs in game 4 of the 1928 Series.

Speaking of World Series' records, he still holds the one for the longest complete game victory in World Series history. In 1916, he pitched the Red Sox to a 14 inning complete game victory against Brooklyn. He gave up 1 run in the first, and then pitched 13 innings of scoreless ball to win the game 2-1.

That, my friends, is greatness. It is unparalleled.

Stay tuned as Babe Ruth week continues. Same Bat time. Same Bat channel.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Dear Pittsburgh Steelers, Please Accept My Heartfelt Congratulations

"From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee!"
-- Captain Ahab, Founder, Cape Cod Browns Backers

Well, well-- you sonofabitchin' bahstages won another Super Bowl. Imagine my surprise. Good. It only makes me hate you more.

So, Steelers, I'm sure you've got quite a homecoming to look forward to. You'll be met at the airport by thousands of people who celebrated your victory by spending their last black lung checks on bottles of Everclear, Ben Roethlisberger jerseys and terrible towels. By the way, if you've ever wondered why your dipstick fans spend the entire game swinging those piss colored towels over their heads, it's because most of them haven't showered since Bradshaw retired and it's the only way to keep the flies off of them.

Then, of course, you'll have a parade through the heart of Pittsburgh. What a gala that will be! I can see it now--the parade route lined six deep with the drunken, unemployed hillbillies that form the backbone of your fan base. I'm sure there won't be a hubcap safe in all of Western Pennsylvania. Hell, maybe your fans picked up some new skills while they were in the Motor City, so perhaps we can look forward to some really heavy duty looting to cap off their three day drunk.

On behalf of all Browns fans, I'd like to make sure that you guys don't forget to get yourselves some nice Super Bowl rings--the bigger the better -- and then, if we could ask just one small favor, please take those rings, and shove them up right up your asses.
Go Browns.

Gift on Super Bowl Sunday

Today, in honor of the Super Bowl, I have a gift for the Steelers. I've included excerpts from an article Steve King did on a Browns-Steelers game played on October 10, 1976. I just wanted to show there are no hard feelings. For any Steelers' fans who can read, enjoy:

"But of all the hard hits in the 52 seasons and 105 games, including playoffs, that these teams have had, none of them equal the one that was delivered when the Browns and Steelers met on Oct. 10, 1976 at old Cleveland Stadium.

The Browns pulled off an 18-16 upset win over the two-time defending Super Bowl champion when little-known David Mays came in at quarterback for Brian Sipe, who had been knocked out of the game with a concussion, and rallied the club. That, in itself, is noteworthy, but what everyone remembers from the game is what Browns defensive end Joe “Turkey” Jones did to eventual Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers.

Jones picked up Bradshaw and spiked him head first to the turf, as if he were trying to drive a fence post into the ground. Bradshaw lost a whopping 17 yards with this, the fourth and final sack he had suffered on the day. But in reality, he could have lost a lot more – like his well-being, for instance.

It was – and remains to this day - the one signature play of this series. And it will forever epitomize what this tough, bone-crunching rivalry between these two hated arch rivals is all about.

But Jones didn’t sack Bradshaw as much as he manhandled or even assaulted him. On the street, Jones would have faced some serious charges for what he did. But this was football. This was the NFL before a lot of the present-day safety reforms had been instituted. “Joe just picked Bradshaw up and slammed him down,” Doug Dieken said. “What I remember is Bradshaw laying on the ground and flopping like a fish.’’

At the time, there was concern that Jones had broken Bradshaw’s spine – literally. "

No hard feelings, my ass.

Fearless Prediction

Usually, I leave the football prognostication to my hornless buddy, but today I'll go out on a limb and give it a try. All of the experts say Pittsburgh will win due to the stifling defense they play. Statistically, they'll win because the team with the lowest net passing yards during the regular season generally wins the Super Bowl. That means the team that relies less on the pass usually wins. The (hated) Steelers also win the analysis as to which team gives up fewer yards per attempt and fewer rushing yards per game. I think these things matter. So, in this case, the experts appear to be right. Pittsburgh should win.

How can they lose? Cowher can help. He is a very solid coach and generally sticks to a simple but sound game plan, but did you notice he has a serious penchant for using gadget plays at the weirdest times? I mean was this guy schooled on game tapes of Sam Wicky Wacky Wiche? If Bill trots out one or two trick plays to show the television audience how smart he is, Seattle's opportunistic defense could cash in.

So, where do I stand? I guess it's the (hated) Steelers for three important reasons. First, I think statistics, while not telling the whole story in a game of guts and passion, don't lie. Pittsburgh will stick to the tried and true, and Cowher probably won't do anything too stupid. Second, I think Pittsburgh wins because Cowher has one of the biggest and weirdest jaws I've ever seen. I think Super Bowl victors lately tend to have odd and noticeable characteristics. Think of William Refrigerator Perry, John Horseface Elway, Jimmy Johnson's hair and personality, and of course, Bill Belichik's lack of humor. Perhaps the football gods have marked these men for greatness. Third, a (hated) Steelers victory will cause the Rhino to border upon self-immolation. He always writes better when pissed off.

In the end, it's a win for the Chin. Steelers (still hated) 27 Seahawks 17.

People Who Get It

As we discussed yesterday, Terry Pluto doesn't get it. However, this guy gets it, and so does this guy, and this guy, and the guys at Cleveland Scores. Hell, even the Denver Browncos get it.

College Hockey

Michigan and Ohio State played each other in hockey Friday and Saturday night at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor. The two teams split a hard fought weekend series. The Buckeyes won Friday's game 7-5, while the Wolverines won last night's game by a score of 3-2.

If you haven't watched a college hockey game, you really ought to give it a try. CSTV shows games on Friday and Saturday nights, and ESPNU has recently started college hockey telecasts as well. It's an exciting, wide open brand of hockey. The college game has always been popular in certain regions of the country, but it has experienced a growth spurt in recent years, and the increased media exposure that the sport got during last season's NHL lockout seems to have given it a bit of a boost.

The other thing that's going on is that the marketing guys are finally starting to wake up. For example, a few years ago the Michigan Wolverines started putting their players in helmets identical to those worn by the football team. Notre Dame followed suit this season, and put their players in gold helmets. (Hey, Buckeyes -- can you take a hint?). Events like the 2001 "Cold War" game, which took place in front of 74,500 fans at Michigan State's Spartan Stadium, have prompted other teams to look into football stadiums as a venue. In fact, just next week, Lambeau Field will host an outdoor hockey game between Ohio State and Wisconsin. The not so subtle effort to connect hockey and football is smart, and should have started a long time ago.

Ohio fans have another reason to follow college hockey, because not only do the Buckeyes have a formidable team, but believe it or not, the Miami Redhawks are currently ranked #1 in the nation.

For those of you interested in giving college hockey a shot, here's a great place to start.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Screw the Steelers!

In his column in Saturday's Beacon Journal, Terry Pluto tells us that he's rooting for the Steelers in the Super Bowl tomorrow. He justifies this position with some convoluted logic about Bill Cowher being an ex-Brown and the Rooneys crying some crocodile tears when Modell moved the team.

As you know, I'm a big Pluto fan, but I think my man has suffered some sort of brain hemorrhage. Root for the Steelers? Like HELL!!! I hope they all get VD and gum disease. I hope that big, fat, obese, lard-ass, luckiest fumbler in the universe running back of their's tears the butt out of his football pants and needs an angioplasty. I hope they choke on their Primanti Bros. sandwiches and that their city stays bankrupt for longer than ours did. I hope Big Ben knocked up one of the skanks he was drinking with. I hope Troy Polamalu gets a potentially game winning interception only to be dragged down by his freakin' hair. I hope Viagra doesn't work for any of the Steelers who need it, and I hope that the ones who don't need it father daughters who look like Bill Cowher. I hate the Pittsburgh Steelers. I hate their fans. I hate their city. I hate being in the same time zone that they're in. I wish them and their fans nothing but 40+ years of unrelenting misery, starting tomorrow.

Terry, root for Pittsburgh if you want, but as for me, for four hours tomorrow evening, I am officially the biggest Seahawks fan in America. No offense, but screw Pittsburgh, and if you're rooting for the Steelers, screw you too.

P.S. I don't hate everything about Pittsburgh. For example, I like these people a lot.

The Best NFL Team of All Time

A website called has published a list of the 10 best NFL teams of the Super Bowl Era. The criteria are a bit whacked in that there's no duplication of franchises allowed. That means that because the 1989 San Francisco 49ers make the list, there's no room for the other great 49ers teams. Still, it's hard to argue with the team at the top of the list: The 1985 Chicago Bears. For my money, the debate about which team is the best ever is short and sweet-- the 1985 Bears are simply in a different category than everybody else.

Sure, there are people who will advocate the 1972 Dolphins, and nothing can ever take away from their incredible feat of going 17-0, but no team ever dominated both sides of the ball the way the '85 Bears did. The '85 Bears are the only team in NFL history to allow less than 200 points, while at the same time scoring more than 400 points. In the playoffs and Super Bowl, they outscored their opponents 91-10.

What about the one loss to Miami? In a funny way, that only adds to the legend. Is Ali's legend diminished because he lost the first of his three classic bouts with Joe Frazier? What about "wrestling's Babe Ruth," Dan Gable of Iowa State, who was undefeated in high school and college career, until he lost his final NCAA match to Washington's Larry Owings? I lump the Bears' loss to the Dolphins in with defeats like these. It took place on a big stage: The game was on Monday Night Football, and it is still the highest rated game in NFL regular season history. It had a classic story line: The Dolphins were fighting for their legacy as football's only undefeated team, while the Bears were trying to add that to their rapidly growing legend as a juggernaut. The game was seen as a Super Bowl preview, and but for the 17 points that the Patriots scored off Dolphin turnovers in the AFC Championship, it would have been.

The Bears were never able to establish themselves as a dynasty--Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan were like oil and water, Walter Payton retired, the Fridge ate himself out of football, Jim McMahon was never able to duplicate his 1985 performance, and Willie Gault headed for the Raiders. Still, for one season, nobody was ever better than the 1985 Chicago Bears.

Marcus McNeill

Most of the mock drafts indicate that the Browns are going to draft a defensive player, but if the team decides to spend its first pick on the offensive side of the ball, several prognosticators suggest that Auburn's Marcus McNeill might be the man they take. McNeill's 6'9" and close to 350 lbs. The scouting report on him begins with the phrase "a massive mountain of a man who is an imposing physical presence..." and builds up from there. McNeill is one of the best run blockers in college football, and for that reason, a lot of people see him as best suited to play right tackle. Negatives include a tendency to rely too much on his size, a perception that he may lack a killer instinct, and some concerns about conditioning.

McNeill is usually ranked as the second best offensive tackle in the draft, behind UVa's D'Brickshaw Ferguson. There's zero chance that Ferguson will be available with the 12th pick, but McNeill just might be. I may be in the minority, but I still think the O-line is the Browns' most critical need, and I think I'd be sorely tempted to take this guy if he was still on the board when the Browns' turn came.