Sunday, April 30, 2006

Seventh Round

The Browns' seventh round pick, Justin Hamilton, is a safety from Virginia Tech. He's got great size and speed, but is raw. He was converted to safety just last season, having previously played tailback and wide receiver for the Hokies.

I like this pick. Hamilton's obviously a project, but he's already proven himself to be a pretty selfless player. Despite being Tech's leading receiver in 2003, he was converted to tailback in 2004 due to an injury to starter Cedric Humes, and then was converted to defense as a senior because the secondary had only one returning starter.

Looks like a versatile athlete and a team player to me--exactly the kind of guy you want to take a flyer on in the last round.


Maybe this Savage guy really knows what he's doing. I love the two sixth round picks. The first was RB Lawrence Vickers from Colorado. I suspect they picked him to be a special teams player, but he's a nice runner and has pretty good hands out of the backfield. If you've seen him play, you appreciate that he's not shy about taking or giving a hit. I like that.

The second pick, which is the one the Browns recieved from the Ravens in the Ngata swap, was NT Babatunde Oshinowo from Stanford. I think he's a guy who can be a really good pro. As far as I can tell from watching him a few times and reading a lot about him, he has the physical tools to be an effective NT. He just has to learn how to hold his position and grind up the offensive line.

So, the first round trade ended up being Haloti Ngata for Kamerion Wimbley and Babatunde Oshinowo. We'll see.

There had been some noise that the Browns were going to give up a 5th to Detroit for Joey Harrington, but that never materialized.

Nice job.

As much as I didn't like the Browns' fourth round selections, I did like their two picks in the fifth. The Browns grabbed RB Jerome Harrison of Washington State and CB DeMario Minter of Georgia. I really like the Minter pick. He could play right away.

The somewhat troubling thing is that the ESPN guys have had almost nothing to say about any of the Browns' picks after Wimbley. That gives me the impression that they think the picks are pretty uninspiring.

Then again, maybe Phil Savage truly is the talent evaluation genius we all hope he is, and we'll be singing his praises when all these guys pan out.

Round 4

I'm really puzzled by these selections as well.

Leon Williams was a massive underachiever at Miami, although he's always been thought of as having huge potential. In that regard, here's an article where his linebacker coach at The U is quoted as saying that he'd probably be a great linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. I guess we'll see.

From what I've read, a lot of people thought that Isaac Sowells wouldn't be drafted at all.

I don't get it.

I really don't understand the Browns' two fourth round picks. It seems there's better talent out there than we got with these two picks. If Savage hits on either one of these guys, this is where he really makes his bones with the Browns.

Carmona Sent Down; Sabathia Coming Back

The Indians sent Fausto Carmona back down to Buffalo after last night's loss to the Rangers. He got roughed up in his last few starts, but he'll be back. On Tuesday, C.C. Sabathia will come off the DL. If the last three seasons are any guide, he'll be back there again too.

In Other News, STFU Wizards

This belongs in the whining hall of fame. I think it's fair to say that Gilbert Arenas has some issues as far as LeBron is concerned. My guess is that a bottle of Enzyte might help him deal with shortcomings.

Of course, this little tempest in a teapot tells you everything you need to know about how this series is going to end. You guessed it--a controversial call/non-call that gives the series to the Wizards.

Check out this post on Random Thoughts for more on the Wizards' temper tantrum.

Intriguing Second Day Possibilities

As the fourth round begins, I think it's fair to say that there are some intriguing prospects who are still on the board. Several of these guys were projected as day one picks. Most of them are on the offensive side of the ball, but that's where most folks think the Browns are likely to focus today.

The list of undrafted offensive linemen is topped by Tackle Jonathan Scott of Texas. If you click on his profile, you'll see that the GM Jr. scouting service is fairly critical of him, but still, the guy started 40 games for the Longhorns and was a three time All-Big 12 and two time All-American selection. Another highly-rated lineman who remains undrafted is massive Georgia Guard Max Jean-Gilles. Gilles was an All-SEC performer who also was named to the AFCA All-American team.

Oh, and if you're looking for somebody to back up LeCharles Bentley at Center, how about this year's Outland Trophy winner, Minnesota's Greg Eslinger?

On the running back front, available players include Virginia's Wali Lundy, Tennessee's Gerald Riggs, and Arizona's Mike Bell. Lundy's a touchdown machine who, despite a disappointing senior campaign, scored an ACC record 52 times during his career. Riggs is the son of a three-time Pro Bowler (Gerald Riggs Sr., who played for the Falcons and Redskins). Although Riggs missed half of his senior year with a broken ankle that required surgery, he rushed for 1,100 yards as a junior. Bell rushed for 3,157 yards and 4.7 yard-average during his career in Arizona.

Defensively, if you're disappointed that the Browns didn't pick Ngata, then how about taking a flyer on Michigan's Gabe Watson? I don't like the idea of spending a first round pick on a run stopper position like NT, but I've got no problem with spending a day two pick on a guy like Watson.

The Browns have two picks in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds. It should be another interesting day.

Swing and a miss.

I think a lot of teams are going to look back on this draft and ask themselves how they let CB, Ashton Youbouty of Ohio State, and OT, Eric Winston of Miami, Florida, slip into the third round.

By the way, you might hate Belichik (and there's good reason for it), but his post-season record is pretty impressive. That means Art Modell fired two of the most successful post-season coaches of all time: the great Paul Brown and the mealy-mouthed but highly successful Bill Bellyache. That's a nice legacy. And, the haters blame his exclusion from the football Hall of Fame on the Browns' fans. Let's face it, say what you will about the guy. His heart may have been in the right place about the on-field issues, but he just happens to be a dunce. That was his undoing. So, before I sign off, piss on Art.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Draft Update: Time for the Excedrin

Judas Friggin' Priest! They just took another wide receiver with a day one pick. This year, the five yard hook route on third down and six will be run by Oklahoma's Travis Wilson. I simply can't believe the Browns just took yet another wide f-ing receiver! When the hell is this annual madness going to end?

Anyway, putting this particular spike in my blood pressure aside for a moment, I've got to agree with Vinny's take on Savage. He's one self-assured dude. Not only did Savage hand Ngata to the Ravens, but he passed on a chance to get one of the highly rated QBs (Cutler) when he could have fairly easily outbid Denver for the 11th pick. I heard some of the draftniks jumping up and down over that decision as well.

Ngata and Wimbley will forever be linked in the minds of Browns fans. In Cleveland, we know how these "Let's Make a Deal" stories traditionally end. The guy who chooses door number 2 gets Richard Seymour. We opt for the box behind the lovely Carol Merrill, and generally end up with the canned squid, err..., I mean Gerard Warren. Maybe this one will turn out differently, but there's a lot of draft day history that says otherwise.

They aren't big on size this year, are they? I'm not as down on Kamerion Wimbley as Vinny is--in fact, I preferred him to Ngata because of his athleticism. But he is definitely undersized. The second pick, D'Qwell Jackson, is a terrific college football player, but he is also extremely small for a ILB in today's NFL.

I still can't believe they picked another wide receiver.

Round 2---Nice Pick

The Browns moved up in the second round to select D'Qwell Jackson, a linebacker from Maryland. He's a little undersized but has nice quickness to the ball and is a pretty sure tackler. He's not real fancy, but he tackles the right way and doesn't let his guy slip away.

To no one's surprise, the Brownies went defense with the first two picks, and the combination of Wimbley and Jackson will be an immediate upgrade. Even though I think Wimbley needs to get some extra strength to go along with his speed, I like him. He'll be better than anyone we've had for the last 3 years.

It will be interesting to see if Romeo has Jackson playing inside or outside or switching him between the positions.

I have to say that I'm stunned that Winston Justice is still on the board. I would have been happy if the Browns had snagged him with either of their first two picks.

I'm guessing that Savage will be looking for a speedy running back or a good coverage cornerback with the next pick.

Wimbley's the guy.

With the 13th pick they got from Art Modell's old team, the Browns selected DE Kamerion Wimbley. Everyone seems to think he'll be a great outside speed rusher. I don't.

He's too weak. I think AFC Central fullbacks will kick his ass unless he gets a hell of a lot stronger.

I'll say one thing, Savage has some stones. He passed on Haloti Ngata, who I believe will be an immediate starter and big run stopper, but more than that, he allowed a divisional rival to get Ngata.

This just in: Art Modell still sucks.

Draft Day

Houston tossed a grenade into the mock draft universe last night by signing Mario Williams of NC State. Based on what I've heard on NFL Radio this morning, Texans fans aren't happy, but I remember Philadelphia fans booing when Donovan McNabb was selected. You just never know, although I'm glad I'm not a Texans fan this morning.

Pat McManamon has a last minute take on the Browns' options this morning. So does Steve Doerschuk, who thinks the Browns might deal their pick. Doerschuk notes that some pundits see A.J. Hawk falling as far as 9th, which might be far enough for Savage to make a move. (Please God, I've been good.) Tony Grossi says it's Ngata if he's there, and Wimbley if he isn't. Jeff Schudel says they should take Wimbley.

My guess is that the Browns will take Kamerion Wimbley, which means they won't take Kamerion Wimbley. Even though Wimbley's going to need to be converted into a 3-4 OLB, I think I'd rather see them take that risk than spend a first round pick on a NT, who is basically a run stopper. That being said, McManamon's column suggests that they think either Ngata or Bunkley could play DE. If Ngata's really athletic enough to play DE in passing situations, he could be a holy terror on the field.

Now let's rock-n-roll...

Friday, April 28, 2006

LeBron's Just Amazing

There's nothing more to say.

Wickman's Just Terrifying

There's nothing more to say.

Welcome Sopranos Cast

If you check out the comments on the last two posts (here and here) you'll find that our comments section appears to have been taken over by fictional New Jersey mobsters.

Naturally, I hold Vinny responsible for this.

No offense to Uncle Junior, Joey Peeps, Tony Blundetto's Ghost or any other member of the DiMeo or Lupertazzi crime families, but I'll be honest with you--I liked it a lot better when the lesbian Chicago Bear fans dominated our comments section.

Still, while you guys are here, could you put a horse head in Gilbert Arenas's bed or something? Thanks.

15 to 3?

Congratulations to the Cleveland Indians, who moved into first place in the Lakewood Rec Department AAA Men's Softball League with their 15 - 3 victory over the Boston Red Sox last night. The Tribe was paced by Ben Broussard's two home run, eight RBI performance.

The Indians start a weekend series against Schenley's Tavern tonight at Jacobs Field.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Where is Everybody?

I was at the Indians game last night. Cliff Lee did a real nice job against one of the most fearsome lineups in AL, and gave the Tribe a solid six inning outing. About the only time Lee gave anyone cause for concern was the third inning, when he faced David Ortiz with the bases loaded. But he managed to strike Ortiz out, and it was pretty much smooth sailing after that.

For once, the bullpen also came through, with Jason Davis pitching another two good innings and Wickman not even bothering to make things interesting in the 9th. It was a win they definitely needed.

I've got only one question about last night: where were the fans? Less than 22,000 people showed up for a game against the Red Sox, and a lot of them were Boston fans. I mean, what more do you want? It's a nationally televised game, it's a beautiful spring night, Paul Byrd isn't pitching and they're giving shit away (a really crappy umbrella). So why not go to the game?

Cleveland fans love to pound their chests and tell everyone how great they are, but we're really nothing special when it comes to baseball. Sure, the Indians sold out 455 games in a row, but it took a new ballpark, the Browns leaving and several seasons of some of the most explosive offense that baseball's ever seen to do that. I'm just not that impressed.

On the other hand, maybe it's all the Indians deserve. Mark Shapiro's done a great job with the tools he's been given (although Bobby Howry looks pretty cheap right about now), but the club hasn't shown fans that it will spend the kind of money it takes to be something more than a potential contender. Yes, the Indians will lock up talented young players to avoid arbitration, but I don't think fans believe that the Dolan regime ever will put its wallet where its mouth is when it comes to the free agent market.

I don't want the Indians to contend; I want them to win the damn World Series. I think the Tribe's management is willing to settle for contending, and my guess is that 20,000 empty seats think so too.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tough Loss

Well, I guess we can't expect LeBron to leap tall buildings in a single bound every night. Still, that was a tough game to watch the Cavs let slip away.

LeBron's the franchise, so his performance is obviously a big part of tonight's story, but let's not forget the total lack of productivity from the Cavs bench. After accounting for 32 points and 17 boards in Game 1, Cleveland's bench could only manage an anemic five points and six rebounds tonight.

The other stats that jump out at you are turnovers and three point shooting. Cleveland had 18 turnovers, while Washington had 12. The Wizards were eight for 20 from behind the arc, while the Cavs could made only three of the 12 threes they tried.

Oh well, buck up guys. Sign your paychecks over to Drew Gooden, and move on to Game 3.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Browns Stuff

Less than a week until the NFL draft, so here's an update on the Browns.

CDub's Sports and Entertainment has a very good position-by-position overview of where the Browns stand a week before the draft. CDub has prepared four part profiles of the Browns offensive and defensive players, that include his own list of the Browns' top offensive and defensive needs. He's also done a special teams profile. To make these profiles a bit easier to find, I've done a search of his website. You can access all of his previews by clicking this link. I've seen other position-by-position previews, but CDub's are the best. They're definitely worth reading.

Dawghouse Blog has some draft-related musings. I generally agree with where he thinks the Browns are heading with their first round pick, although a lot of the gurus are apparently saying it's Kamerion Wimbley, not Ngata or Bunkley. (Of course, that information comes via Roger Brown, so consider the source.) The more reliable Terry Pluto still holds out hope that the Browns will be able to finagle a deal for A.J. Hawk, and is attracted to Vince Young like a moth to a flame.

The idea that the Browns may be able to fill their needs at LB in the second round is also supported by Dawgs by Nature, which has this post suggesting that the Giants' signing of Lavar Arrington may have increased the pool of quality linebackers who will be available after the first round. If the Browns do wait until the second round to draft a linebacker, the Lake County News Herald suggests that the guy they pick might be Iowa's Abdul Hodge or Maryland's D'Qwell Jackson.

Speaking of linebackers, Steve Doerschuk's Browns Team Report for The Sporting News has lots of interesting stuff in it, including speculation that if the Browns decide to convert one of their OLBs to the ILB position, it's likely to be Matt Stewart and not Chaun Thompson.

If you're interested in later round speculation, check out Steve Doerschuk's Canton Repository column from last Friday, reprinted here. While Doerschuk names several wide receivers as potential later round picks, Len Pasquarelli's report that the Browns are shopping Lee Suggs indicates that another running back is likely to be on their shopping list. Of course, the prolific Doerschuk thought of that too, and identified some possibilities in this column in Saturday's Repository. Tony Grossi came up with his own list in yesterday's Plain Dealer.


"There is no way I am going to put myself through Sandhurst (military academy) and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country."
---Prince Henry of Wales

When I read about Prince Harry, I imagined what it would be like to have a child of privilege and a scion of an American political family actively lobby for a combat mission. For some reason, of late, I've been unable to do that.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Unbelievable Hit in Sabres v. Flyers Game

I'll confess to not watching the Indians last night, and I'm not going to ruin my Cavs buzz by talking about them now.

Instead, I decided to watch the Sabres play the Flyers in the first round of the NHL Eastern Conference playoffs. Boy, did I make the right decision. The Flyers tied the game 2-2 with less than two minutes left in regulation, and the Sabres went on to win it in double overtime, despite a spectacular performance by Philadelphia goalie Robert Esche.

As good as the Sabres game was overall, there's one highlight in particular that I think you'll see on SportsCenter for quite some time, and that's this hit. The Sabres' Brian Campbell absolutely laid out the Flyers' R.J. Umberger during the first overtime period. The hit was as clean as it was vicious, and fortunately, Umberger's going to be okay.

For my money, there's nobody in sports tougher than the guys who take the ice every night in the NHL.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Cavs Flat Out Kicked Butt

Sure, I'm a Cavs' skeptic, and I'm not the biggest NBA fan you'll ever come across. But on a day like this, I'm not even going to think about throwing a turd in the punch bowl. That was just AWESOME!!! What a great start to the playoffs.

Unfortunately, I didn't see it on TV. My oldest son was in a lacrosse tournament in Medina, so I listened in on the radio. It brought back some great memories. I've never heard a [insert corporate name here] Arena crowd that loud throughout a game. I drove past the site of the old Richfield Colisseum on my way to and from my son's games, and I've got to tell you, that was an early 1990s Colisseum crowd I heard on the radio.

Just when I think LeBron James can't do anything more to impress us, he goes out and gets a triple double in his first career playoff game. That's just sick. Then you had guys like Marshall and Snow elevate their games way above where they were in the regular season. It was just an unbelievable afternoon.

What I liked most about the game was that the Cavs simply wouldn't let Washington put together a run. Every time the Wizards looked like they might bring the Cavs lead into single digits, LeBron or Snow or Marshall would spark a 6-0 run. Gilbert Arenas fouling out in the last two minutes was the icing on the cake of what may be the best performance by a Cavaliers team that I've seen since the early 1990s.

The Cavs have a long way to go to win this series, but I think it's fair to say that Cleveland fans haven't had a day better than today in quite some time.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Spiderman 3, Cavs 0

The Cavs make their first playoff appearance in eight years, and those fans lucky enough to have scored tickets now have to contend with a traffic jam caused by our city's desire to be Tinseltown on the Cuyahoga. This ought to be even more fun on Tuesday, when the Tribe's back in town along with the Cavs.

By the way, you can forget about catching a glimpse of Kirsten Dunst or Tobey Maguire while you're waiting in traffic, because they ain't coming. Neither is the guy from Sideways who plays the villain. From wandering around downtown this afternoon, I can tell you that this particular shoot is long on Teamsters, and short on movie stars.

The Bullpen Situation Just Went from Bad to Worse

You already heard about Betancourt going on the 15 day DL. Now it looks like Matt Miller's probably done for the year.

Update: But at least the bullpen got it done tonight, if just barely.

The Duke Scandal and Tom Wolfe

There's kind of an odd cottage industry springing up in comparisons between Tom Wolfe's novels and the Duke lacrosse scandal. At last count, Google showed 10,800 sites with the phrases "Duke lacrosse" and "Tom Wolfe" in them.

Most commentators have drawn the easy analogy between Duke's alleged campus debauchery and that depicted in Wolfe's latest novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons. Others see parallels to all three of Wolfe's novels. Not me.

The problem with the Wolfe comparisons is that even at his worst (i.e., I Am Charlotte Simmons), Wolfe is incapable of writing a story with characters who are this cartoonish. Everywhere you look, you've got somebody behaving in the most reprehensible manner imaginable. You just feel like you want to take a shower whenever you hear anything about anybody associated with this case (via Deadspin).

Frankly, the whole thing has a lot more in common with Jerry Springer than with Tom Wolfe. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but in this case, it isn't nearly as well written.

Guess Who's Making Lots of Money

Cleveland Scores has a couple of posts bemoaning the Tribe's pitching situation. It's still early, but I think most Indians' fans feel your pain, fellas. What's more interesting to me, however, is the snapshot of the team's financial situation that one of the posts provides, via a link to a Forbes magazine survey of the various MLB clubs.

As Cleveland Scores points out, the Forbes survey suggests that the Tribe has the highest valuation of any team in the AL Central. Of course, as my 401(k) found out the hard way, Internet companies once had high valuations too, so that doesn't impress me all that much.

What does surprise me is the Indians' operating income number. I'm sure it will surprise you, and maybe even anger you a little too. That's right gang--we're number one. Of course, even that number wouldn't mean much if the Tribe was awash in debt, but they aren't--the team's debt-to-value ratio is in the bottom half of all clubs.

How are the Indians able to make this kind of money? The answer seems to be revenue sharing. I wasn't able to find specific revenue sharing numbers for the Tribe, but as this article that accompanies the Forbes list makes clear, a lot of the income that is being generated by these "poor" teams is coming from revenue sharing--and the lion's share of that is being paid by the Yankees.

The Indians' overall financial health doesn't mean that they can throw money around like the Yankees and Red Sox--they simply don't generate the revenues to support that kind of payroll. Still, be sure to keep this chart in mind the next time you hear the front office cry poverty.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hope Carmona Got a Good Night's Sleep

The Tribe put Miller on the 15 day DL and called up Rafael Perez from Akron. Based on Eric Wedge's comments, Let's Go Tribe thinks that Miller could be gone a lot longer.

Fausto Carmona better have some gas in his tank this afternoon, because that bullpen is looking mighty threadbare right now.

Update: The Cleveland Indians Report answers the "why Rafael Perez?" question

Cavs Win 50 Games

The Cavs beat Atlanta 100-99 last night to win their 50th game of the season. For a team that's gone eight years without a playoff spot, that's quite an accomplishment. Despite slumping after the break, the Cavs have rallied to play some pretty good basketball in recent weeks. That's encouraging as they go into the postseason.

Does that mean I'm jumping on the bandwagon? No, I'm not. After further review, the play stands as called. But remember, that came from the guy who picked USC to win the Rose Bowl and UCLA to win the NCAA tourney.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

What a Nightmare!

Vinny's right, of course, but Wedge's Grady Little impersonation wasn't even the worst thing that happened tonight. The capper to a truly dreadful evening was losing Miller and Betancourt to injury within four pitches of each other.

Here's the box score. Read it and weep.


The Rhino wondered what the others are saying. I say Wedge'd better wake up.

I don't know if the Tribe will win tonight, but they've already pissed away a huge lead against the O's. Wedge had Matt Miller warming up in the pen, but watched Westbrook get pounded. Miller eats right-handed hitters alive. But Wedge just sat there blinking and looking around (in all fairness, Wedge doesn't blink as often as Hargrove always did, but it's still damn annoying).

Someone must have nudged Wedge awake because he finally put Miller in to face a couple of guys, including Corey Patterson. Patterson is a bum and has been a huge disappointment thus far in his career, after being highly touted as a future star. Unfortunately, he hits from the left side. That's a problem because left handed hitters, even bums, hit Miller pretty hard to the tune of around an OPS of .745. Wedge knows that. He should.

Yeah. You guessed it. Patterson homered. The Tribe probably loses tonight because Wedge mismanaged his pen. How in the hell do you let a team score 7 runs against you in one inning?

Maybe Wedge was saving his relievers for...uh, uh, uh, I don't know.

I know he's a new father. Maybe he's not getting any sleep and he was dozing instead of paying closer attention to his pitcher who was getting beaten around like a trailer park wife.

All I can say is Little Ava your daddy blew this one. I've got to go back and watch some more.

What are the Other Guys Saying?

It's a good morning to be an Indians fan, but I can't really think of anything original or clever to say. I know that's never stopped me in the past, but I'm busy today, so I figured I'd point you in the direction of people who do have some takes on the Tribe and other parts of the Cleveland sports world this morning.

Let's Go Tribe is optimistic about Casey Blake's prospects, and also provides some insights into the games that the Indians played to keep Carmona on the roster while not losing Cabrera. The Cleveland Indians Report has a ton of information this morning, with news on everything from how Willis tweaked Byrd's mechanics before his last start to a report on the performance of some of the Tribe's top minor league prospects.

Dude, WTF? recaps last night's game and hopes, probably in vain, that the Royals can figure out a way to beat the Sox. Cleveland Sports Perspective voices a few concerns about the bullpen and Wedge's sparing use of his bench so far this season.

On the lighter side, Mistake by the Lake updates its list of members of the C.C. Sabathia crooked hat club. Sorry, but I'm a crooked hat hater. The look isn't quite as bad as Brownie the Elf, for whom The Burning River displays inexplicable nostalgia, but it's close.

The Burning River's also excited about scoring some Cavs playoff tix, and is counting the days until Round 1. I'm betting he doesn't invite Mike.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot--the Steelers suck.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tribe's a Winner

The Indians won big today to salvage a split with the Tigers. The Tribe blew the game open with six runs in the third and never looked back. Nice to see that Byrd rebounded from his last outing, and it's good to see the bats wake up after squandering some excellent pitching by Cliff Lee and Rafael Betancourt yesterday.

Still, it's kind of a bummer to realize that the Indians outscored Detroit 18-10 over the weekend and only managed to split the series. I guess getting 17 of your 18 runs in only two of the four games will do that to you though, huh?

So Long, Fumblerooski

Efforts to bleed all of the fun out of football continue unabated, as the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations announced last week that it has joined the NFL and NCAA in banning the so-called "fumblerooski."

As most of you know, the fumblerooski is a gadget play in which the QB takes the snap and surreptitiously places the ball on the ground, where it is then picked up by one of his lineman. The entire offense sells a fake to the wide side, while the lucky lineman who scooped up the ball proceeds--if things work as designed--to waltz into the end zone.

You'd never think something this insane would work, but every now and again it did--most famously in the 1984 Orange Bowl, where Nebraska used this play to score its first touchdown against Miami.

Gadget plays like this should always have a place in the game. They don't do any great violence to its integrity, but they do serve as an important reminder that the race is not always to the swift, and the fight is not always to the strong.

The fig leaf that the NFSHSAA is hiding behind is that plays like this are a burden to officials. Nonsense. Any experienced coach with a trick play or two in his arsenal will pull the officials aside before the game and let them know that he might use them. You walk the refs through what you intend to do, and point out to them that you (and your players) understand the applicable rules. Believe me, it doesn't bother the officials. In fact, my experience has been quite the contrary; for the most part, referees are connoisseurs of the rule book, and really enjoy it when teams take advantage of some of its more obscure provisions.

I'll give you an example. Last year, I put in a couple of plays out of the Notre Dame Box formation for the junior high team I helped coach. When we ran them, we lined up in a straight T formation, and then shifted into the Notre Dame Box. We told the ref we'd do this, but the first time he saw it, he almost swallowed his whistle--his eyes lit up, and after the play he turned to us with a big smile on his face and said "I haven't seen that in 25 years!"

So, I don't buy the party line. I have no idea how this decision was made, but the conspiracy theorist in me says that what's really going on here is that big time high school programs have used their juice to get rid of this play. These guys typically are more conventional in their approach, because they've got the athletes to win with power and speed alone. They also dislike having to devote practice time preparing for this kind of stuff, and frankly are unnerved by the thought that somebody with a disciplined group of kids and a deep bag of tricks just might put one over on 'em.

More News on the Uniform Front

This time it's from the Browns, and if this website's right, the news is good. Bye-bye orange jerseys. You will not be missed. It's been tough enough being a Browns fan in recent years --why make it tougher by having the team take the field looking like human Creamsicles?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Great Hudson Easter Egg Hunt

I live in Hudson, Ohio. If you know anything about Hudson and you live anywhere in Northeastern Ohio other than here, that means you probably hate me. I've lived in Hudson for 15 years and you know what? Sometimes I think you're right to hate me.

Hudson's a beautiful little town and there are a lot of very nice people living in it. Unfortunately, some of its residents think they're better than people who live in surrounding communities. No, that doesn't quite capture it--they don't think they're better, they feel it in their bones. Nice, huh? Not surprisingly, that charming attitude has resulted in a general dislike of Hudson and everyone who lives in it by just about everybody else in Summit County.

Some people go to a lot of trouble to defend Hudson against its detractors. I've even done so myself. But these efforts were dealt a body blow last weekend, when our local merchants sponsored an Easter Egg Hunt. Picture a bright Spring day, then add upper middle class Hudson parents and children accustomed to getting instant gratification. Mix in the fact that there were candy and prizes in the Easter eggs, and you've got the potential for a really disgraceful display.

That's apparently what we got, as I'm told that this event degenerated into the kind of "ME FIRST!" orgy that gave our town its reputation. Parents were single-minded in their devotion to maximizing their kids' haul of eggs, without the slightest regard for whether the three-year old standing next to them got one.

In the words of the author of a letter to the editor that appeared in today's Hudson Hub-Times, the hunt was more aptly described as "a stampede." This author went on to say that "I didn't have time to witness the children's expressions and excitement. I'm not sure if my vision was blurred by the massive quantity of parents jockeying for position at the expense of the children or whether I was simply in fear for my daughters' lives."

Happy Easter from Hudson, Ohio.

Buona Pasqua

Happy Easter.

I'll be busy today getting ready for a small gathering. You know, 20+ people. We'll eat wedding soup, fried eggplant, stuffed shells and ham. We'll play a little bocce, and at 1:05, I'll listen to Tom Hamilton.

Yesterday, the Tribe righted the ship thanks to rookie Fausto Carmona and veteran Todd Hollandsworth. Carmona was great on the hill. He kept Detroit's big sticks guessing and missing. Hollandsworth had three hits and went over the fence to rob Marcus Thames (say it like the river in London, England). In a previous post, I mentioned the Tribe's depth. That's what separates winners from losers in the bigs. When you can get a win over a division rival with essentially your sixth starter on the hill, you're in good shape. When your fourth outfielder is something better than a spot filler, you've got a chance to win some games you might otherwise lose.

Cliff Lee starts today. Let's see him develop into an ace (and get him under a long-term contract ASAP).

I hope they win again today. The Rhino will be in the kitchen toiling over a leg of lamb. Otherwise, if things go poorly, it may be Campbell's soup and grilled cheese for his kids' Easter dinnner.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Browns' Mock Drafts

With the NFL draft just a few weeks away, The Orange and Brown Report has a "Mock Draft Muncher" showing the projected Browns' #1 pick in roughly 50 different mock drafts. Several of the names have been in the mix for quite some time, while others have become more prominent in recent weeks.

Old favorites Haloti Ngata, Chad Greenway, DeMeco Ryans, Manny Lawson and Tamba Hali are named in several mock drafts, but a handful of Florida State Seminoles now feature prominently as well. Brodrick Bunkley (DT) and teammates Kamerion Wimbley (DE) and Ernie Sims (OLB) are identified by a number of mock drafts as possible #1 picks for the Pumpkin Heads.

Despite the Browns' efforts to bolster the offensive line through free agency, several drafts show them taking an offensive linemen with their first pick. If the Browns do pick an offensive linemen, the mock drafts suggest that it will either be Marcus McNeill or Winston Justice.

Running back DeAngelo Williams is identified as a possibility by two mock drafts. Earlier on, there had been some chatter that if they wanted a running back, the Browns might take USC's Lendale White, but his stock has been dropping faster than General Motors.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Witch Hunt

Sticking up for Barry Bonds makes me want to projectile vomit, but here it goes...

Federal prosecutors have reportedly convened a grand jury to look at indicting Barry Bonds for allegedly perjuring himself during testimony to the BALCO grand jury. New evidence? Nope. As the authors themselves acknowledge, most of the allegations against Bonds that surfaced with Sports Illustrated's publication of the excerpt from Game of Shadows were drawn from information that was in front of that grand jury. Since they had all this evidence last year when they decided not to prosecute, why have they decided to go after Barry Bonds now?

We all watched Raphael Palmiero adamantly deny--under oath in front of a congressional committee--that he used steroids, and then we watched him test positive for them only a couple of months later. They looked into prosecuting him, but decided against it. Why Bonds? Mark McGwire's weepy evasiveness before that same committee could have landed him contempt charges, but didn't. Why Bonds?

I'll tell you why it's Barry they're going after: because there's political hay to be made by prosecuting him. Some Eliott Ness wannabe is salivating over the chance to take down baseball's answer to Al Capone.

Barry Bonds has gotten worse press over the past month than that Iranian asshat who wants to blow up the world. Prosecutors are like sharks, and massive public hate-ins smell like blood in the water to them. They know that prosecuting a pariah like Bonds means the potential for quality media face time and career advancement, so they move in for the kill. I think that's exactly what's happening here, and I think it stinks.

There's a name for politically motivated prosecutions against unpopular people: they call them witch hunts. That's exactly what this is.

The Tribe Bullpen: Brought to You by Chico's Bail Bonds

Boy, that was a slow motion train wreck from the 6th inning on, wasn't it? It's way too early to get your shorts in a bunch, but the Tribe's relief pitching started off this series shaky and ended it flat out lousy. Last night was a classic example of why they ought to sell Pepto Bismol at the ballpark: walking nine batters in four innings is just not a good way to end your home stand.

At times last night, you could almost hear the Toreador Song in the background as a series of inept Tribe hurlers rendered the best Rudi Stein impersonation that the Major Leagues have seen this season.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thanks Deadspin!

Big day here at Vinny and the Hornless Rhino. Deadspin linked to Vinny's post on the LeAnkle, and our hit meter's officially in uncharted territory. So, welcome Deadspin readers. Feel free to roam around, and be sure to check out our link list. There are lots of good Cleveland sports blogs out there, and we try to link to them all.

In particular, please check out our friends at Cleveland Sports Perspective, God Hates Cleveland Sports, The Burning River, and Dude, WTF?

Painting a Moustache on the Mona Lisa

Ohio State introduced a new home jersey last week. Fan reaction has been virtually unanimous: everyone hates it. The new jersey (pictured left) isn't ugly, but Ohio State is one of only a handful of teams whose uniforms are so iconic that any change in them is bound to provoke an emotional reaction from fans. As far as Buckeye fans are concerned, why tinker with perfection?

Very few teams have uniforms that are so cool that they just can't be improved and should never be messed with. From my perspective, that short list of teams includes the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Penn State Nittany Lions and, of course, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Even teams on this list sometimes can't resist the lure of more merchandising dollars, and decide to mess around with their uniforms. Notre Dame, for example, added gold side panels to its white jerseys a few years ago. One of the countless good things that Charlie Weiss did for the Irish last season was to return the team to its traditional jersey design.

Stories like this need a villain. Fortunately, Ohio State has Nike. Yup, the Buckeyes have an $11.4 million deal with Nike, and although everyone is denying it, this move sure looks to have the fingerprints of the folks from Beaverton written all over it.

Now, I'm a big Nike fan. I mean, how can you not love a company that pisses off the Volvo and Birkenstock crowd more than global warming? Nike makes lots of way cool stuff, but to say they've got a blind spot when it comes to gridiron fashion is the understatement of the century.

If you think the Buckeyes' new jersey is bad, just remember what Nike has done to Oregon. Viriginia Tech and Miami are other examples of schools that have fallen victim to Nike's clown college/drag queen approach to football fashion. Nike's also messing around with That Team Up North, slapping their trademark bib design on the bad guys' away jerseys.

So, Buckeye fans, it could be much worse. Still, let's hope that Ohio State sees the light. When you've got the Mona Lisa, don't paint a moustache on it, much less a multi-colored swoosh.

Oh Shit!

I guess the sports gods finally noticed that the good people of Cleveland were having a little too much fun. After all, the Browns have made some seriously good acquisitions, the Tribe started the first week of the season by taking series against Central foes, the White Sox and the Twinks, and the Cavs made the playoffs.

It's the last one that may have been turned into a front -page Cleveland joke. Tonight, the Chosen One, LeBron James, sprained his ankle in a meaningless game. I just ran across the story after posting a short blog about the Tribe's loss. Geez. I hope all of the Browns are home in bed and not riding motorcycles or some other nonsense like that. Otherwise, today could be a Cleveland sports hat trick.

Anyway, no one knows how severe the sprain is. LeBron is saying the things the people who use you to adverstise want you to say to seem team-spirited and plucky in the the face of adversity about being ready to play, but that's a bunch of horseshit. The first thing that came to my mind when I read about the injury was when Ricky Mahorn elbowed Mark Price in the head in another meaningless game at the end of the season. The result was that Lenny Wilkens decided to sit Price in the opening game of the playoffs (at home) against the Chicago Bulls, a team the Cavs had owned during the regular season. Well, the Bulls and some guy named Jordan didn't cooperate with that plan, and beat the Cavs in game one. They then went on to win the thing in seven, and uh, you kinda know the rest. That guy named Jordan turned out to be a pretty good basketball player, a bad baseball player, and a horrible gambler.

Tough one.

The Tribe's winning streak ended tonight against Seattle 11-9. Richie "the Big Sexy" Sexson hit a grand salami against his old team, and Paul Byrd definitely did not have it. He was throwing batting practice against the Mariners. They just clobbered him.

The good news is the Tribe kept fighting even when they were down, Peralta looks like he's starting to hit, and Pronk hit another bomb. That's six in six games for those scoring at home.

Tomorrow, the Tribe faces King Felix Hernandez. That should be a good one. For those who don't know him, King Felix is 20 years old and pitches like he's been in the Bigs for years. The Tribe hasn't had a chance to figure him out, and his stuff is fabulous. It will be interesting to see how the hitters handle him.

I'm 43 years old. I've watched baseball since I was 5. But, I still expect the Indians to win every night.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Thank You Carl Everett!

Last night's Tribe game was fun to watch, but also a little troubling. It's great to see them hit in April, and Cliff Lee certainly gave them a nice start, but the bullpen looked downright scary at times. That's why I want to say a big thank you to noted humanitarian and all-around baseball nice guy Carl Everett. Even though Carl's a Mariner, he was one of the Indians' heroes last night.

The Tribe took a 9-3 lead into the 8th inning, but neither Sauerbeck nor Miller could find the plate, and the Indians quickly found themselves in a bases loaded, no outs jam. Up comes Carl Everett. When we last heard from Carl, he was bashing Kenny Williams for letting him and Frank Thomas go, thus depriving the White Sox of their wise and experienced leadership.

Carl showed quite a bit of leadership last night. Even though Matt Miller hadn't thrown a strike to the first two batters he faced, Everett jumped on Miller's first offering and grounded into a 4-6-3 rally killing double play. The next batter, Kenji Jojima, grounded out to end the inning, and the Tribe dodged a bullet.

Thanks again, Carl!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Green Day Sucks

Did you know that if you Google "Green Day sucks" you get 26,700 hits? The other day, I heard Green Day's cover of "I Fought the Law" on the radio, which reminded me that I needed to add hit number 26,701 to the Internet.

I Fought the Law was written by Sonny Curtis of The Crickets, and made famous by The Bobby Fuller Four in 1966. However, it wasn't until the late 1970s that rock bands realized what a politically incendiary song this apparently simple tune could be. Not surprisingly, it was The Clash that figured this out first, and their 1978 version of the song brought its radical subtext to the surface. Jello Biafra and The Dead Kennedys followed suit shortly thereafter, using a modified version of the lyrics to skewer San Francisco councilman Dan White and his famous "Twinkie Defense."

Green Day entered the picture in 2003. The American Idiots lived up to their name, cluelessly wandering through the tune's lyrics in a way that I hadn't heard since the vacuous Linda Ronstadt teamed up with Nelson Riddle to produce a couple of unintentionally hilarious albums of standards back in the 1980s.

Fellas, there's a fundamental difference between The Sex Pistols and Nirvana; punk is all about alienation, while grunge is all about apathy. Do us all a favor, and figure out which one you're coating in sugar and peddling to the Clearasil crowd.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Is C.C. the Next Sid Fernandez?

I got an e-mail from a loyal reader with a simple request: "How about an entry paralleling C.C.'s litany of injuries with those of Sid Fernandez?" Okey-dokey.

Sid Fernandez, as you may recall, was a portly yet talented pitcher and a key member of the New York Mets pitching staff during the late 1980s. He posted some impressive numbers during his stay with the Mets, beginning with his 16-6 mark and 3.52 ERA on that great 1986 team. Fernandez had several good years, compiling a 54-29 record from 1986 to 1989. Sid had tons of talent--in fact, he only allowed 6.85 hits per nine innings for his career, and ranks 4th all time in that category, trailing only Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, and Pedro Martinez. But he never lived up to his full potential, despite his early promise.

Sid faded fast after 1989, winning 10 games only once more in his career. He was plagued by injuries, beginning in 1987, when he missed three weeks in August due to a knee problem. A broken arm in spring training cost him playing time in 1991, and knee problems would continue to plague Sid, landing him on the DL for extended periods in 1991 and 1993. His 1993 knee injury caused him problems for the rest of his career.

Sid became a free agent in 1994, and signed with the Orioles. He played there in 1994 and part of 1995, but again spent time on the DL with knee and elbow problems. He spent time with the Phillies and Astros, and retired in August 1997. Fernandez had a lifetime record of 114 wins and 96 losses, and a career ERA of 3.36. Not bad, but who knows how much better those numbers could have been if he just stayed healthy.

What's the point of all this? Well, as C.C. starts out this season with his customary stint on the DL, Sid Fernandez should serve as a cautionary tale for him. Like Sid Fernandez, C.C. is a very talented pitcher with incredible potential who finds himself on the DL for reasons relating to more to his status as a fat pig and apparent indifference to conditioning than to the breaks of the game. This is Sabathia's third stint on the DL in the past three seasons. As you'll recall, Sabathia ended 2004 on the DL with a hamstring injury, and missed the first six weeks of last season with an oblique problem similar to the one he's now facing.

The Tribe handed Fatty McLardass a $17.75 million contract extension last year that runs through 2008. I'd love to see him in the rotation every fifth day, but he needs a wakeup call. I hope he takes Sid Fernandez's example to heart, because right now, Chubbs looks less like a #1 starter, and more like a reckless and irresponsible jerk who's willing to put the Indians' season in jeopardy because he's too lazy to haul his fat ass off the couch during the off season.

Hey, Tubby, the truth hurts. Get with the freakin' program, and while you're at it, straighten out your damn hat and climb into a uniform that doesn't fit you like a clown suit. You don't look like a gangsta, you just look ridiculous.

New Link: The Burning River

Forgot to tell you guys that I added another new Cleveland sports blog to the link list over the weekend: The Burning River. Check it out.

A Good Walk Spoiled

Hooray! Huzzah! Lefty won the Masters!

Like I give a rat's ass.

I'd love to give you a detailed Masters wrap-up, but I dislike golf, I don't care for country clubs, and most of all, I hate professional country clubbers--people who define themselves by the country clubs to which they belong. C'mon, we all know these people -- you can pick them out of any crowd by their trademark mixture of arrogance, condescension, and utterly fraudulent bonhomie.

Oh, yeah, and based on anecdotal evidence, a lot of them also seem to have unusually elongated foreheads. Somebody dial up Charles Darwin on that one, will ya?

I hate getting stuck in conversations with these people. I plaster a smile on my face and nod like a bobblehead while these bleeding rectums wax eloquent about the glories of The Masters, their latest $1,200 set of irons or all the gory details about how they finagled a chance to play TPC Sawgrass, or Pebble Beach, or Augusta, or Shinnecock, or -- and they usually genuflect when they mention this one--Pine Valley.

Hey, don't get me wrong--if you like golf and belong to a country club because it's a nice place to play a game you enjoy, more power to you. I've got no problem with you, but look around the members dining room the next time you're there trying to meet your food minimum, and you'll have no problem finding oodles of the kind of a-holes that I'm talking about.

So, is Phil Mickelson one of these guys I've just spent four paragraphs trashing? If he ain't, looks like he does a hell of an imitation.

In a nutshell, if you're looking for golf commentary, you'll have to go elsewhere, 'cause I'm nothing but a hater. In the words of immortal country clubber Judge Elihu Smails, as far as golf on this blog is concerned, "you'll get nothing and like it!"

Fantasy in South Florida

Sorry that I've been derelict in my posts, but I spent the weekend in Boca Raton for a fantasy baseball draft. Ten of us having been doing this since 1987.

The draft went well. I have a great infield, great closers, slightly above-average starters, Jim Thome as my DH, but a weak outfield. I guess I'll find out if you can win a competitive league with a bunch of bums in the outfield. It's an AL only league. As to members of the Tribe, Victor Martinez, Todd Hollandsworth, Jake Westbrook and Jason Johnson grace my roster.

More imporantantly, I was hanging out with some other baseball nerds and dancers. Roberto ("Manos de Piedra") Duran showed up too. He, as you guessed, was not part of the baseball draft. He showed up for the dancers, and quickly ensconced himself and his small entourage in what appeared to be a fairly large Arabian tent-like structure. A cadre of dancers was dispatched, and he was never seen again. Sadly for him, he didn't get to hang out with a bunch of lawyers and talk about baseball. I kinda feel sad for the guy. Well, I guess you can't have everything.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Opening Day

It may be cold, gray and miserable outside, but from my office window I can still see that several hundred people have already arrived at The Jake for today's home opener, even though the first pitch (assuming there is one) is still more than one hour away.

It's nice to be able to focus on something other than the Bud Selig's incompetence or Barry Bonds' dishonesty. The one thing that saves baseball from its repeated suicide attempts is just how good a game it is, and there's nothing like Opening Day to remind you of that.

But that's all it is: a really great game. Some wannabe Aristotles insist on waxing philosophic about baseball and never cease their attempts to convince us that there are some deep insights into the American psyche to be found in a baseball game.

Yes, Professor, I know it's the only game where the defense has the ball and the only team game without a clock. Those are cool facts, but they don't provide particularly profound insights into the meaning of life, and you sound like an ass when you pretend that they do.

So, the next time you see some poseur quoting Jacques Barzun on baseball, tell him to shut his pie hole and watch the friggin' game.

Go Tribe, and PLAY BALL!!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

New Link: Dude, WTF?

This lady definitely makes the blog roll--and Dude, WTF? has got to be the best name for a blog I've seen in a long time.

Bonds isn't as Bad as McGwire

Ed posted a comment on Vinny's last entry asking if I didn't also have strong feelings about Barry Bonds. What can I say about Bonds? Not much that hasn't been said, really. My personal bete noire in all of this is Mark McGwire, whom I loathe with a passion that I just can't raise for Bonds.

See, everybody has always known that Bonds was a jackass, but to Bonds' credit, he never tried to be anything else until the manure hit the fan last month. Now, he's all about taking care of his family. Whatever you think sells, Barry, is okay by me. And aside from love of family, Barry's apparently trying to sell hatin' whitey pretty hard too. Okay, that's a time honored strategy in America, so go for it.

As you know if you read this blog, I've got little tolerance for either the cynical manipulators who play the race card at the drop of a hat or their fuzzy headed enablers. The thing is, I think Bonds has kind of got a point. Where's the outrage over McGwire? The lousy SOB boo-hoo-hooed his way through testimony in front of Congress in a way that a guy like Bonds never would be allowed to emulate.

Why does McGwire get so little attention while Bonds gets raked over the coals? Sure, the fact that McGwire is yesterday's news has a lot to do with it, but I've got to tell you, I think the color of his skin is a factor here. Of course, the biggest reason everybody's jumping on Bonds is that aside from Ty Cobb, Barry may be the least likeable man ever to play the game.

But he's got something else in common with Cobb too: he's one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived--and he was a first ballot Hall of Famer before he ever alleged to have touched a steroid. In contrast, McGwire was the classic one trick pony.

It's got to gall Bonds to see how McGwire not only hogged the glory during his chase of Maris, but now has managed to avoid the negative spotlight that's shining so intently on him.

Frankly, it galls me too.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Boo Hoo

Feel sorry for Barry Bonds. Boo Hoo.

Here's what he said on his reality show, as he teared up:

"I wish I could just walk away, like leave this game. But then I let my father down, my mom down, myself, everybody. My teammates. "I just wanna play ball. And that's just it."

Barry Bonds is still an asshole.

Even if he's trying to rehabilitate his image through an ESPN "reality show;" even if he acts oddly self-effacing; even if he put on a dress in spring training and yukked it up with the guys; even if he's nice to little old ladies and puppies (which I doubt), Barry Bonds is still an asshole.

I don't know why he and the media are acting surprised at the reception he received in San Diego. He's getting ready to sully the Great Bambino's legacy. While that alone is unforgiveable, he's also going to cheapen the truly gargantuan accomplishment of Hank Aaron, who beat the Babe fair and square.

Joe Morgan suggested Proud to Be Your Bud's announcement of an investigation is tinged by racism. It's not. It's because Bonds is a first-rate asshole who won't go away. My pal, the Rhino, ripped Mark McGwire in an earlier post for sidling up to the Maris family as he pissed all over poor Roger Maris' grave. Bonds did the same thing last year to his godfather, the Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays. I hope Aaron doesn't smile and shake his hand if Bonds hits number 756. He shouldn't have to suffer that indignity. That man put up with enough in '74.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Awesome Game!

Of course, I'm talking about the Colorado v. Chicago game, in which the Avalanche overcame a 3-2 deficit with two goals in the last minute of the 3rd period to beat the Blackhawks 4-3.

You didn't seriously think I'd sit through that entire terrible basketball game, did you? That's just not going to happen as long as I've got the NHL on OLN as an option.

Come to think of it, I'll take The Hockey Song over that stupid One Shining Moment any day of the week too.

Oh the good old hockey game
it's the best game you can name
and the best game you can name
is the good old hockey game!

NCAA Championship Prediction: Jeff Bezos v. Dukie V

This is Jeff Bezos. He's a billionaire. He's the CEO of, has raised more money from investors than anyone in the history of capitalism except for the Google guys, and even got named Time's "Man of the Year" back when the Internet was all that.

Most men would settle for that. Not Bezos. He wants to be a hoops prognosticator. His company spammed America's inboxes this morning with the bold prediction that UCLA was going to take home the trophy. That takes some cojones.

Dukie V likes Florida, but only because Duke isn't playing. Let's linger on the last clause of that sentence for awhile, shall we?

Duke isn't playing.

What beautiful words those are, huh?

Anyway, I don't like Dukie V, I admire Bezos' cojones, and Amazon offers free supersaver shipping on qualifying orders over $25. That settles it: I'm picking UCLA. Judging by their offensive output against everybody except Belmont, I think the score ought to be something you'd expect from a couple of mediocre high school teams: UCLA 57, Florida 52.

I don't like to say it, but...

C.C. made me look a little prescient yesterday. The big reason why I didn't pick the Tribe for more wins (even though Yahoo has 'em down for 95 and most other publications start at last year's total 0f 93) was that they were so damn lucky when it came to the health of their players. Well C.C. started the year off by...straining his abdomen. What the hell is that? That sounds like a made up injury.

At least when another guy with an oversized boiler, the Great Bambino, went into the tank with an injury, the New York media published something everyone could understand: he ate too many hot dogs. I think that's how I'll report C.C.'s early demise: the big bastard couldn't push away from the table and his gut's sore from so much eating. He'll probably be back in 15-20 days.

P.S. In one respect, C.C. was primed and in mid-season form. Did you notice how crooked he wore his cap? He remains primo amongst the imitators on this one. Predicts a Bruins Victory

Look at what just showed up in my in-box. wants me to buy NCAA championship merchandise, and according to them, it's all over but the shouting. Congrats to the Bruins! On the other hand, maybe is hedging their bets a little, since their advertising pitch reads as follows:

"Congratulations, [placeholder for winning team]! As someone who has purchased sports-related products, we thought you should be the first to see our selection of NCAA championship products."

So, Gator fans, there's still hope. Despite the bold prediction, hasn't embroidered UCLA's name on the hats they're selling.

I wonder if I beat Deadspin to the punch on this one?

Update: Yes, I did beat Deadspin to the punch. Of course, their post is much more entertaining, but you heard it here first.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

My wild guess

I think the Tribe will do very well this year. However, unlike most people, I'm not assuming they'll win more games than they did last year. If fact, I think they'll win fewer. I'm guessing 90. Here's why.

The Tribe is young. It's reasonable to expect most of their young players to do as well as last year or better. Sizemore is the exception. You have to worry about the dreaded sophomore jinx. Don't worry. It's not gonna happen. Sure, Grady will have a few droughts, but at the end of the year, I suspect his numbers in '06 will be better than his terrific '05 numbers.

The starters are solid. Byrd and Johnson should give what the Tribe's deep thinkers thought when they acquired 'em. The two should post in excess of 400 innings and should combine for 25 wins. I'll take that. Westbrook should be fine. Closer to his '04 numbers than '05. That means he'll show slight improvement over last year.

You want a pennant? Look to the two lefties, Carsten "Crooked Hat" Charles Sabathia and Cliff Lee for that. For me to be wrong, these two really have to be the reason. Unfortunately, I think they'll both be very good and that CC will be maddeningly inconsistent. He will look utterly dominant and then forget how to pitch. I probably should invoke a comparison to Bartolo Colon's days with the Tribe here to make my point. OK. You get it.

The pen should be fine too. I really like Fernando Cabrera, and so do all the fantasy magazines. He could be really good some day as a closer. I just hope it isn't this year. If you guys read this with any regularity, you know I also like Andrew Brown...a lot. He didn't make the 25 man roster, but I'm pretty sure we'll see him before September.

The hitters will be as good as last year or better. Michaels will be a pleasant surprise to those who remain ignorant of the senior circuit. People won't miss Coco, even though he'll be a star in Boston. The Tribe's gonna score runs, lots of them. Victor Martinez should really emerge as a bona fide star. Peralta's probably going to see a drop in his numbers. His secondary numbers don't support a repeat, at this point, of his numbers from last year. He really needs to control the strike zone. Sizemore's fabulous and will get better. Belliard is the same guy he's been for the last two years. Sadly, Blake, Boone and Broussard are what they are too. Perez will give a nice right-handed bat in a platoon and off the bench. Nice acquisition.

Pronk is, of course, great when he's healthy. That's the problem and not just for Half Project/ Half Donkey. Look at the numbers from last year. The scary truth is that the Indians were amongst the healthiest teams in MLB. When's the last time you could say that about any Cleveland team. Unlike my writing partner, I'm not sitting here with metaphysical certitude knowing that the other shoe will soon drop. I'm just pointing out that that is one achievement that will be hard to duplicate. However, the one thing that bodes well for the Tribe in that regard is that most of the guys are young. They should be able to handle the grind.

If injuries do hit, the Indians have a shocking amount of depth. That also contributed to drop my win total to 90. Here's why. If, for example, Boone goes down, we luckily can plug Marte into the spot. He's great. He's a premium prospect. That means the front office will be patient with him and give him a real opportunity to contribute. It's hard for rookies to contribute in a pennant push, and even when he stumbles, Wedge will run him out again the next day. The same is true to varying degrees about Franklin Guitierrez, Brad Snyder and Ryan Garko. I'm not being critical, just realistic.

I think they could sneak into the play-offs. My number's conservative, but I'll stick to it.

I Hiked This

This is the South Kaibab trail in the Grand Canyon. Picture this covered in mud and ice. I hiked this thing, even though I'm terrified of heights.

How terrified? Think James Stewart in Vertigo.

I love to hike, and we did a lot of it in Arizona, but I wasn't enthusiastic about this adventure when we started out. Not only was I scared to death, but the trail was a mess of mud and ice. Then again, I wouldn't have been thrilled about this trek under the best of conditions -- this picture doesn't begin to tell you how narrow the Kaibab is, how steep it is and how far you fall if you go over the edge. As one of the rangers told me, "in the Grand Canyon, we don't have rescue missions, we have recovery missions. We just pull out the body."

I don't want to overdramatize this--a couple hundred thousand people hike below the rim every year, but few are as cowardly as I am. Not only that, but this hike didn't start out very well. The fearless Mrs. Rhino and I got about a quarter of a mile through these switchbacks when my 70 year old mother (who otherwise loved the hiking on this trip) and two out of our three kids decided they'd had enough. So, up the mud and ice slick we went, dropped them off at the top, and started all over again accompanied only by our oldest son. We slid through the ice and mud, tried to avoid the mule caravans and the mule shit, and found out pretty quickly that one of the truisms of the Grand Canyon is that almost anybody can hike down. The trick is hiking back up.

Only 5% of the visitors to the Grand Canyon ever go below the rim. We didn't get to the bottom (only went about two miles round trip--two and a half counting the false start), although Vinny did when he visited. That makes him part of a very elite 1% of Canyon visitors. Someday, maybe I'll join him.

By the way, this photo is from the National Park Service. Mrs. Rhino took some of her own while I was holding on to the Canyon walls for dear life. I'll post some of those, as well as some that she took in Sedona (which is incredible), later this week.

I'm glad I didn't read this book before my trip.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fools!

It's tough enough to deal with lost luggage and other travel hassles without Vinny nearly giving me a heart attack with his last post. Gary Sheffield an Indian? America's favorite clubhouse cancer and former friend of Barry? Say it ain't so!

Anyway, Vinny's 100% correct in identifying Sidd Finch as the greatest April 1st sports prank of all time. Here's a link to an online version of the original Sidd Finch article, and a tip of the hat to the greatest sportswriting Brahmin of them all, George Plimpton. David Halberstam was really Plimpton's only competitor for top Brahmin honors, but he forfeited any claim to that title when he published his Belichick hagiography, which we reviewed here.

While we're on the subject, here's a list of the top 100 April Fools hoaxes of all time. Sidd comes in at a very respectable #2.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Cinderella bit the dust tonight. Assuming UCLA doesn't choke down the stretch, this sets up one of the least interesting NCAA finals matchups in recent memory. Upsets are what make the tournament interesting, but without a single number 1 seed in the Final Four, this year's tourney looks more like the World Baseball Classic than March Madness.

Does anybody seriously think that UCLA or Florida are among the top 5 teams in the country? Maybe that's the NCAA's April Fools Day joke on all of us. I'll give it 10 minutes on Monday night, and then I'm going to continue my quixotic quest to find Mannix reruns somewhere on cable.

Indians Acquire Gary Sheffield

No. They didn't. It's a lame April Fool's joke and doesn't compare to the great one pulled by George Plimpton of SI several years ago when he wrote about pitching phenomenon Sidd Finch.

I thought we needed some new content, but the Hornless one still appears to be bringing his twisted brand of cheer to the Arizonans. I haven't had time to think about Cleve sports, much less write about 'em. So, you guys get this crap.

Have a nice day.