Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Dark Horse

The focus during tonight's Browns game is going to be on competitions for roster spots or starting positions. While there are a number of positions up for grabs, the battle for career survival that's going on between William Green and Lee Suggs is probably the most compelling.

Green's a former first round pick who, despite showing flashes of brilliance, has stumbled on and off the field. Suggs has been plagued by injuries, but is guy whose tremendous potential was hinted at when he finished the 2004 season with three consecutive 100 yard games, including a 186 yard rushing performance against the Bengals.

So, who am I pulling for? None of the above. I'm rooting for the darkest of dark horses, Jason Wright. This is a guy who was a two-time Academic All-American at Northwestern, where he graduated with a double major in psychology and pre-med. He scored in the 92nd percentile on his Medical College Admissions Test, and is obviously destined for bigger and better things after his football career ends.

With all that going for him, Wright's still chasing his NFL dream. He's bounced around on the practice squads of three NFL teams over the past two seasons, and if you read his bio, it's full of words like "signed," "waived," "actived," "inactive," and "practice squad."

There are a lot of guys like Jason Wright bouncing around the NFL. It's a tough way to make a living, but for many of these players, their alternatives aren't that great. That doesn't appear to be the case with Wright. He's got a resume that says, "I'm here because I love to play football."

After watching T.O. spend his training camp riding a bicycle, missing meetings and gabbing with the media, it's hard not root for a guy like Jason Wright.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

MLB's Kings of Garbage Time

In case you missed it, the Tribe just won their sixth series in the last seven attempts, and the Indians are now a mere 14.5 games out of third place in the AL Central. Whoopie.

The team's recent performance is evidence of the disturbing trend that we've seen with the Indians over the past several years: they choke when it counts, but are the kings of garbage time.

Eric Cassano has an interesting take on this situation that's definitely worth reading.

Update: Cleveland Sports Perspective is more upbeat about the Tribe's recent performance, and thinks we should chill out. Don't get me wrong, I'll take a win any day, but I'm on "the glass is half empty" side of this debate. I agree that the Indians aren't as bad as their performance up until about a month ago suggested, but that's kind of the point. They only started to play well when there was no risk that it could have made a difference. The team's 2006 performance may not be cause for despair about the future, but it certainly justifies some anger about the present.

We're Number One

Cleveland's a chart topper this morning. According to The Plain Dealer, our on-again, off-again status as America's poorest big city is back on again. On the other hand, we do rank #1 in NFL fan loyalty, as reported in this article that was originally posted on The Orange and Brown Report's message boards.

Great. I guess that makes us football's answer to Charlie Bucket, the poor but steadfast little kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The only good news is that if we're Charlie Bucket, the spoiled fans from Pittsburgh, who rank 21st overall, are Veruca Salt.

Unlike Charlie, however, we're still waiting on that golden ticket.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sixty Years in a Little Over Four Minutes

Here's a keeper from YouTube. Nice work, BrownieFan88.

A Guy You Can Count On

The players released by the Browns yesterday included the man who kicked Saturday night's game-winner against the Bills, kicker Jeff Chandler. That sucks for Chandler, but let's face it, he wasn't going to win this job away from Phil Dawson.

Dawson has been one of the few bright spots for the Browns since their return to Cleveland. My favorite memory of him is when he kicked the game winner against the Steelers in Three Rivers back in 1999. Everybody remembers the Steelers shellacking the Browns 43-0 to open the 1999 season; not enough people remember that the Browns stole one from the Steelers in their own building that same year.

Despite playing on some really inept teams, Dawson has quietly built up some impressive stats during his seven seasons with the Browns. His career field goal percentage is better than that of the great Adam Vinatieri. For that matter, Dawson's career field goal percentage is the second-highest in NFL history. Last season was Dawson's best, at least in terms of field goal percentage. He went 27-29 on field goals, including a game winner against the Raiders last December. Although the Browns were hardly an offensive juggernaut last season, Dawson's 27 field goals were enough to rank him 6th overall in the NFL, and 4th in the AFC.

Dawson's leg strength has been called into question, but he's 5-6 for his career in field goal attempts over 50 yards, and a respectable 28-42 in attempts between 40 and 50 yards--and remember, he's doing a lot of that in the swirling winds along the shores of Lake Erie.

Even though he was only 5'11" and 185 lbs., Dawson was a starting tackle on his high school team, Texas powerhouse Richardson Lake Highlands. That's the kind of kicker that fans love--a football player whose position just happens to be kicker. As long-time Browns fans will remember, Matt Bahr used to personify that kind of player. It's nice to have another one, and fans ought to appreciate him as much as the Browns do.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Plain Dealer Scores a Touchdown

My general view of The Plain Dealer is that it makes a nice birdcage liner, but this morning's college and high school football preview section is so well executed that I almost find it impossible to believe that it actually came from people affiliated with the PD.

The preview contains the usual analysis of top local teams and week-by-week matchups, but what sets this year's preview apart is the paper's decision to build it around the theme of "Ohio's Football Machine."

In keeping with that theme, the PD tries to show how Ohio continues to crank out disproportionate numbers of top flight college and pro football players (including three of this year's top Heisman Trophy candidates). It has articles ranging from Northeast Ohio's youth football programs to the remarkable Glenville-Ohio State pipeline, and gives you a real sense for what football means to many people in this state.

The whole thing is just really well done, and you can read it all right here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Something I Should Have Known

Did you know that Josh Cribbs is the nephew of former Buffalo Bills standout Joe Cribbs? I guess I should've know that the two were related, but I didn't until I read Steve Doerschuk's column this morning.

Joe Cribbs was one of the top running backs in the AFC during the early 1980s. He won rookie of the year honors in 1980, played in three Pro Bowls, and would have rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his first four NFL seasons but for the 1982 strike.

Here's a profile of Uncle Joe from the Bills' website.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hickerson Redux

Maybe I was too harsh on the Browns front office. This article by Steve King that appears on the Cleveland Browns' website suggests that they do get it when it comes to Gene Hickerson. Be sure to check out the video that accompanies the article.

They still should retire his number.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Great Lakes Classic

The Browns came away with a victory last night in the fabled "Great Lakes Classic." Defensively, it looks like the Browns just might have something going on. Offensively, they've still got miles to go, and it would be nice to see them hold onto the football, but there were some bright spots. Frye played better than he did last week, and Harrison gave the guys at Channel 3 a chance to run the Eric Metcalf highlight tape they've been saving since the Browns drafted him.

It's still just a meaningless preseason game, and that makes it hard to come up with much more to say about it. So instead, I'll take the easy way out and make fun of the Great Lakes Classic concept.

A "Great Lakes Classic" is what happens when the marketing departments of two perennial NFL doormats try to figure out a way to drum up interest in preseason games without actually spending any money. Somebody apparently got the bright idea to create the appearance of a rivalry between two teams that aren't in the same conference and that haven't played in a championship game in a combined total of over 90 seasons. How? By dredging up memories of that magical time before color TV when the two teams didn't suck.

You know how, in most suburban self-esteem tee-ball leagues, every kid gets a trophy even if his or her team stinks worse than three day old road kill? (Yay! Timmy!) It strikes me that this is the NFL's answer to that -- it gives two teams with zero chance of winning the Lombardi Trophy something to put in the trophy case. (Yay! Randy!)

That brings me to one thing that's absolutely great about this game, and that's the trophy the winner gets (pictured above). The trophy is unquestionably the butt-ugliest in all of sports, but that makes it strangely endearing. It has sort of a "Big Mouth Billy Bass meets the Edmund Fitzgerald" quality to it, doesn't it?

So Browns fans, cheer up. We may not see our heroes hoist the Lombardi Trophy anytime in our own or our children's lifetimes, but at least we can console ourselves with the thought that somewhere in a Berea trophy case, there's a cheesy looking rusty hulk with the team's name on it.

And if that's not a metaphor for the last seven years of Browns football, I don't know what is.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Retire Gene Hickerson's Number Now

I did a double take when I saw the photo of center #4 that accompanied today's propaganda dispatch from the Browns' website. Seriously, why would they hand out Gene Hickerson's number to a faceless journeyman?

When the Browns do little things like this, I just shake my head. Don't get me wrong--I've got no beef with Ross Tucker, and like every fan, I hope he steps up in a big way. My problem is with the front office. They really just don't understand what the Browns and their history mean to fans, so they hand out Gene Hickerson's number to the stiff of the week, and trot out Jim Brown as a shill for the party line every time the shit hits the fan.

Still, this little injustice pales in comparison to the far greater one perpetrated by Hall of Fame voters against Gene Hickerson and some of the other great offensive linemen of the 1960s. They let the greatest linemen of the era, Jim Parker, into the Hall, but while Hickerson and the Packers' Jerry Kramer both made the all-decade team, neither of them has been deemed worthy of admission to Canton. They aren't alone. As this article from Sports Illustrated's Dr. Z bears out, there are at least six offensive linemen from that era who deserve serious consideration for a spot in the Hall.

There's not much the Browns can do to get Hickerson what he deserves from the Hall, but there's one thing they can do to show that they understand the magnitude of his contribution to the Cleveland Browns: retire the man's number. With all due respect to another great #66, Tackle Tony Jones, it's Hickerson's number, and nobody should wear it again.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Mess at Center

So now the story is that center du jour Alonzo Ephraim is going to be suspended for four games for flunking his second drug test. That's nice. According to Tony Grossi's article, the Browns are blaming their ignorance of Ephraim's situation on "the haste to get him into camp and a communication snafu with the league office." In plain English, a "communication snafu with the league office" means "we f---ed up."

Don't blame this one on the jinx. It's simply an inexcusable oversight by the team's front office, which was obviously sent into full panic mode by LeCharles Bentley's injury.

What's next, news that Ross Tucker--better known as Center #4-- has been placed on the injured reserve list because of a bad case of stigmata?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

So Much for That Trade

Suggs flunked his physical. Nobody gets out of here alive.

The Beast is on Fox NFL Sunday

Damian Buck's plan for world domination moves steadily forward. Remember, you were warned.

Can't Sleep, So Here's Some Random Crap

I knew I shouldn't have had a meatball sub when I got home at 9:00 p.m. from coaching my kid's football practice. Anyway, since I can't sleep, here are a couple of tidbits I've been meaning to tell you about.

  • Notre Dame has seven Heisman Trophy winners, but only five of them managed to crack this list of the top ten players in school history.
  • If you're interested in a similar top ten list for the Buckeyes, check out this series of articles over at Swerbs Blurbs.
  • If you've got a football helmet fetish, you'll love this site. If you live in Ohio, it will come as no surprise to you that there's a similar site devoted entirely to Ohio high school helmets.
  • Here's the first film of a college football game ever recorded.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Suggs for Strait

The Browns traded Lee Suggs to the Jets for Derrick Strait.

My first thought is "jeez, are the Browns really that thin at DB?" I know McCutcheon and Baxter are injured, but last I heard, neither injury is expected to keep either player out beyond the first game of the season. Sure, they need help just about everywhere, but DB isn't a position that strikes me as that big of a priority compared to the team's other needs, like the offensive line.

That's why my initial reaction to the trade is disappointment. The Jets are in bad shape at running back, and Suggs is probably the highest value player that the Browns had to deal. Maybe Suggs isn't worth as much as I think, but it seems to me that the Browns basically gave the Jets a running back who (if he stays healthy) will probably start for them in exchange for a guy who couldn't crack their starting lineup as a DB, and probably won't start for the Browns either.

On the other hand, Phil Savage has earned a reputation for having a pretty good eye for defensive talent, while I have earned a reputation for being a 21st century version of Ralph Kramden.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Latest Sign of the Apocalypse

They are Ohio's most storied high school football team. They play in a 17,000 seat stadium that fills up every Friday night during football season. Not only that, but they also have an internet following most Division I colleges would envy, and their games get top billing on the local ESPN radio affiliate.

Their alumni include one of the Four Horseman of Notre Dame, and Ohio's greatest football legend, who was also their finest coach. The team's rivalry with Canton McKinley has not only been celebrated in an award winning documentary film, but as one reviewer pointed out, it's the only high school football game in the nation for which Vegas posts odds.

They've won 22 state championships and are second in the nation in total wins. While none of those state titles has come since the state playoff format was instituted, they've come tantalizingly close. In addition to falling to Cincinnati St. X in last year's state championship, they've lost state championship games to juggernauts like Gerry Faust's Moeller teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s and state semi-finals to the great St. Ignatius teams of the early 1990s.

Of course, I'm talking about the Massillon Tigers. They may be the quintessential big-time high school football program, but--believe it or not-- according to this article in today's Canton Repository, it's just possible that they are about to go down a class into Division II. There's nothing underhanded about the move and, if it happens, it will probably guarantee them some of the state championship hardware that they undoubtedly covet. Still, there's something very strange about the thought of the mighty Massillon Tigers becoming a Division II team.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Maurice Clarett Sportswear

Like it? Get it from the Mahoning Valley Hitmen's website. (Click on "merchandise.") Sorry, but after reading this story, I tend to agree with the author that the slammer is probably the safest place for Maurice Clarett to be right about now.

I don't know what Clarett was intending to do with the arsenal he had with him when he was arrested, but I'm betting that it would've looked a lot like the final scene in Scarface.

On the other hand, it is heartening to learn that Clarett's new team still has his back.

The Most Important Game of the Browns' Season...

... wasn't played last night.

That sounds pretty obvious, but you might have thought otherwise if you read yesterday's Plain Dealer (where Tony Grossi wrote about "a dark and heavy cloud" hanging over the Browns) or Akron Beacon-Journal (where Pat McManamon wrote about how the Browns are "staggering into their first preseason game."). Apparently, the trauma of the Browns' training camp has been too much for the local media, which has managed to get in full drama queen mode about a team that won't play a game that counts for another month.

Did the Browns look good? Certainly not on offense. They did show some signs of life on defense. That's good news because, with the challenges their offense is facing, the Browns' best hope for bettering last year's record is improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Wimbley played well and Oshinowo got a sack, but the buzz this morning is about second-year linebacker David McMillan, who showed everybody why the Browns have been high on him this preseason. If you want more info on McMillan, here's an article that appeared on when the Browns selected him in the 2005 draft.

Still, you can't tell much from the first preseason game. The most important thing about last night's game was that--pending definitive word on Gary Baxter's shoulder-- the Browns managed to get out of The City of Brotherly Love without any serious injuries.

If you want to see what the local media had to say about last night's game, you can find Patrick McManamon's story here, Tony Grossi's here, Terry Pluto's here, Steve Doerschuk's here, and Jeff Schudel's here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Our manager, Blinky

For a long time, I thought only the people at Vinny & the Hornless Rhino World Headquarters noticed Eric Wedge's weird facial tics and incessant blinking. I was wrong.

Maybe it's the stress. As Fausto Carmona blew up last week, I watched Wedge closely. I could have sworn that, at one point, he was blinking the message "torture" with his eyes using morse code like Jeremiah Denton once did.

That poor sap.

Reflections on the Bob Hallen Era

I still can't believe he's gone.

How do you begin to sum up the career of a man who has meant so much to this franchise? Ever since Bob Hallen assumed the mantle of starting center many days ago, he's provided the team with the kind of veteran leadership that has been sorely lacking since the Browns returned to Cleveland.

Of course, it's Hallen's contributions to the Northeast Ohio community that made him a legend. Let's face it, without Hallen's efforts, there's no way that Microsoft would have moved its headquarters here or that Cleveland would have been awarded the 2012 Summer Olympics.

It's hard to pick Hallen's finest hour as a Cleveland Brown. Was it the time he captured Osama bin Laden? How about the time he fixed Global Warming?

Remember when he saved Christmas?

And now, in the twinkling of an eye, the glorious Bob Hallen Era has come to an end.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Stop the damn presses.

It sounds like the Indians just signed Cliff Lee to a three-year, $14 Million deal. I have to admit, I didn't see this one coming. I guess I now have such low expectations that Dolan will spend money to win, I just assumed that Lee would play out the string here and then go elsewhere for a real contract.

It's stunning to think that the Indians now have four experienced big league pitchers and a rookie (Sowers) under contract for next year. That's amazing.

Now, for his next trick, let's see Shapiro find some ballplayers.

Charlie Frye

Pat Kirwan of has an article this morning on Charlie Frye, and why Browns' management and his teammates think he's the man. Kirwan gives Frye a free pass for this season, observing that "his offensive line and health questions on the offensive side of the ball make it unfair to judge him on the upcoming season."

Nonsense. Even with the injuries that the team has suffered, Frye's already got a better surrounding cast--and a more realistic coaching staff-- than Tim Couch ever had during his tenure as a Brown. For what it's worth, my money's on Frye to turn out to be a decent NFL quarterback, but there's no way he should get a free pass from Browns fans this season. Sink or swim, Charlie, sink or swim.

By the way, it turns out that part of the reason that he stunk up the joint during Friday's scrimmage was that he really did have a thumb injury after all. I wonder what the story is behind The Beacon-Journal's Pat McManamon getting fed that information by Phil Savage himself while The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot just got growled at for asking about it?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Wavering on Wedge

I've always kind of liked Eric Wedge, but I'm starting to waver. With yet another one run loss today, the Indians are on a pace to go 69-93 -- the exact opposite of last year's 93-69 mark. Injuries and crappy pitching are to a large extent beyond a manager's control. Fundamentals and defense are in part a function of effort, and that's something over which a manager can exert some influence.

It's unfair to tag Eric Wedge for everything that's gone wrong with the Indians this year, but it's fair to point out that the areas most under a manager's control are also some of the areas where the Indians' performance has been most disappointing. I think that's the point that Terry Pluto was getting at in his column on Friday, although he beat around the bush an awful lot.

To me, nothing makes that point quite like the Tribe's continuing problem in one run games. It isn't just a 2006 problem; the Indians won 93 games last year despite losing more one run games (36) than any AL team since 1968. But as of this year, they've played fewer one run games, but they've done even worse as a percentage, winning only 9 of 28 games they've played.

The Indians' record in one run games is the worst in Major League Baseball. Why am I bothering to single this out with all of the team's other woes? Well, because this was one of the club's major points of emphasis this Spring. Check this out:

Now the club must take the next step, simple as that sounds. And the Indians know that step really has to be made in nail-biter ballgames, where they were dismal last season.

It's about one-run games.

The Indians played a lot of them last season (58, to be exact), and they lost a lot of them, too (36, to be exact). The loss total was the most in the Majors and the most by an AL team since 1968.

To ensure such heartbreak is not endured in '06, the club has put extra emphasis on the game's fundamentals this spring. Bunting, situational hitting and controlling the running game have been as much a part of the players' spring routine as golfing, fishing, and baking in the Florida sun.

That's from a story that appeared on the Indians' own website last March. (Read the whole thing here). Just to bring you up to date, so far in 2006 the Tribe has made 80 errors, second most in the AL, and also ranks next to last in the AL in fielding percentage. As for the supposed emphasis on "bunting, situational hitting and controlling the running game," they were joking, right? Let's see, they also rank second to last in the AL in throwing out baserunners attempting to steal, and recently ended an impressive 0-19 streak with runners in scoring position (but still managed to strand five runners the night they did it).

This club has failed miserably-- and in just about every way imaginable -- at what supposedly was a top priority going into the season. Eric Wedge watched all this unfold, and while he never dodged a question about it or tried to shirk responsibility for it, he also doesn't seem to have done much to try to stop it.

Shapiro appears to want to fall on his sword for everybody this season, but I think Wedge bears a big share of the responsibility for the team's failures on this front. Should they fire him? Not this year, but I'd give him a very short leash next season if all he does when Jhonny Peralta boots a ground ball is blink out an SOS signal.

Trip to Italy

A number of people, including me, think Italy is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. That's why I'm planning another trip there.

After all, even though it doesn't seem like it, there's more to life than baseball.

Friday, August 04, 2006

All Along the Watchtower

"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the
thief. "There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief."

~~~Bob Dylan

The Tribe lost again tonight after they'd been leading 6-4 going into the eighth. This time Betancourt and Cabrera were the culprits.

Wedge was last seen banging his head into a foul pole.

Notre Dame Blows It

As anybody who is a long-time reader of this blog knows, I'm a Fighting Irish die-hard. That's why I was really disappointed to learn that Westwood One, which broadcasts all of the Notre Dame games, canned long-time play-by-play man Tony Roberts and replaced him with Don Criqui. This happened back in May, but was done very quietly (or maybe I just wasn't paying attention). I only stumbled upon the news of his firing in the last week or so.

I think that Tony Roberts was just great, and I can't believe anyone would replace him with a cardboard cut-out like Don Criqui. Okay, Criqui's a Domer, but he's as lifeless and corporate a play-by-play guy as they come. Tony Roberts, on the other hand, was a professional, but he was also not ashamed to be a fan. He knew his stuff, but man, he'd get as pissed as I did whenever the Irish did something stupid. I liked that. In fact, when Notre Dame messed up, Roberts would get that same exasperated quality to his voice that the great Nev Chandler used to get when Belichick called Metcalf up the middle on 3rd and 4 for the bajillionth time.

When Roberts was partnered with former Notre Dame assistant Tom Pagna, people called them the "Domer Homers," and for good reason. They wanted Notre Dame to win, and they weren't afraid to let you know it. But they didn't pull any punches either--I used to really love it when they'd fight with each other. Pagna got shoved out six years ago, and I guess it was now Roberts' turn.

Tony Roberts did a great job for the Irish for almost 30 years, and he got thrown away like an old sock. He deserved much better than that. Notre Dame says it had nothing to do with it, but does anyone believe that this would have happened without the university's tacit approval? This guy doesn't, and neither do I.

Shame on you, Notre Dame. You've managed once again to play into the hands of people who hate you, while at the same time taking some of the enjoyment away from those of us who live and die with what your football team does on Saturday afternoons.

Don Criqui, here's the act that you've got to follow. Good friggin' luck.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Way to Go, Tribe!

Tonight, the Indians deserve a pat on the back. After the meltdowns of the last two games, and after spotting the Red Sox a three run lead, did anybody seriously think the Indians would not only come back to take the lead, but manage to hang onto it while facing Big Papi and Manny in another nerve wracking 9th inning?

I'll take it.


Double sessions for high school football teams start today. Two-a-days are one of those rights of passage that you can't understand unless you've experienced, and that you never forget if you have.

For the uninitiated, "double sessions" or "two-a-days" are the twice daily football practices that traditionally are run six days a week from the first day of high school practice until the first day of school. They are a truly miserable way to spend two weeks. In fact, for years after my days as a high school player ended, I'd get a knot in my stomach around this time of year--sort of a post-traumatic stress reaction to my annual trip to Hell.

We'd start out the first day of double sessions by being given our helmets and then being told to put them on and go run "five perimeters" (i.e., five laps around the entire campus of our high school, a distance of approximately 4 1/2 miles). Only then would we start the day's first practice. My experience is by no means unique--every former player has a story of a particularly cruel tradition associated with his own team's two-a-days.

I only went through one football preseason in college, and it was even worse than high school. We didn't have two practices a day; we had three--and that was at a low end Division III program! Both of my brothers did time in D-IAA programs, and their preseason practices were even worse. The situation at colleges got so insane that the NCAA actually intervened a few years ago and imposed strict limits on double sessions.

My own college playing career ended before it started. I aggravated a knee injury shortly after contact started and was told that I should have surgery if I wanted to play again. Whenever I felt bad about that, I reminded myself that the injury also ended my experience with two-a-days. It's amazing how much that thought cheered me up.

Now it's my oldest son's turn. He gets his first taste of two-a-days starting today. Better you than me son, better you than me.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Hey, look on the bright side-- at least this walk-off hit stayed in the yard. About the only thing missing from last night's 9th inning meltdown was Fausto Carmona being taken off in a straitjacket.

The Indians are becoming baseball's answer to a wreck on the highway. You don't want to slow down and look at the carnage, but you just can't help yourself.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Hector Luna Trade

" Things are not as they seem. Nor are they otherwise."

~~~ Buddha as he entered Ceylon
In the Lankavatara Sutra

The Ronnie Belliard trade was not just a salary dump.

Those who read Vinny & the Hornless Rhino with any degree of regularity know that I've intimated... no, I guess I've stated pretty clearly that Dolan is a miserable cheapskate who's ruining the Indians. I still believe it, and little he can do during the remainder of this torturous season can make me think otherwise. But, trading Ronnie Belliard was not soley designed to save money. Belliard was in the final year of a $4,500, 000 contract. At the time of the trade, roughly $1,800,000 remained on it. Luna has a one year contract worth $345,000 with about $180,000 remaining to be paid. So, Dolan clearly gets to keep the extra $1,620,000 in his secret piggy bank. That's nice for him, and I suspect that, when the old guy found out, he used his preternaturally short arms to do cartwheels or some weird penniless rich guy variation of them.

Even with all of that, I think the Indians grabbed Luna because he's a pretty good defender at second and short, and make no mistake, the Indians need a shortstop. I think that was the real motivation. After all, by trading a free agent who will likely be signed next year, the Indians missed out on getting a few supplemental picks in the amateur draft. A team in disarray that needs to rebuild should covet a few extra draft picks. So why were the Indians so cavalier with passing on the supplemental picks? Was it really just money?

The Indians have a big problem at short. It's bigger than the 1.6 Million bucks Dolan can now spend on necco wafers or giving do-nothing jobs to his kids. I suspect Shapiro, while maintaining publicly that Jhonny's gonna be his shortstop next year, is frantically searching for a guy who won't cause Mark's guts to churn every time a groundball is hit to the left or right of wherever Jhonny happens to be standing. Luna solves that problem and could do it for pennies next year if the Indians resign him. I think they'll try. This is the courting ritual. Dolan will probably authorize Shapiro to offer him $500,000 and a chance to start if he'll stick around. If he signs, they'll make a grand announcement about signing a free agent and all that horse crap, and the local media will make believe that something just happened.

Maybe I like a good conspiracy theory too much, but the alternative is too terrible to behold. Does our franchise really hang by a 1.6 Million Dollar string?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Don't Ask Me

I've got no idea why Blogger decided to set off our new link from every other link on this site. Maybe it's because he's obviously as mad as hell and not going to take this anymore, or maybe it's just because the average five-year old has better HTML skills than I do.

Update: I just noticed that it looks perfectly fine when you access the site through Mozilla. Apparently, it's only a problem with Microsoft Internet Explorer. It sucks that they rule Planet Earth, doesn't it? On second thought, I'd better stop criticizing them before Bill Gates wishes me into the cornfield.

Harold Enarson: The Guy Who Fired Woody

Harold Enarson was the Ohio State President who fired Woody Hayes after Woody threw a punch at Clemson's Charlie Bauman during the 1978 Gator Bowl. Enarson, who passed away last Friday at the age of 87, once said that he knew that he'd always be remembered as the guy who fired Woody.

Despite a distinguished academic career during which he served as President of both Cleveland State University and The Ohio State University, a quick glance at Enarson's obituary proves that he was right.