Saturday, December 22, 2007

12/23 - Will we be remembering this date?

If I was asked right now (which I'm not planning on being) "what was the best day of your life?" I would EASILY respond: December 29th, 2002. It was my best friend and college roommate's 21st birthday - but I wasn't with him.

It was two days before new years, but there was no champagne.

In fact, sometimes I even feel a slight tinge of remorse that the "best day of my life" has something to do with a regular season sporting event. But it did.

That was the day the The Browns beat the Falcons to get into the playoffs. We needed to beat the Falcons, and have either the Dolphins beat the Patriots (in NE) or the Jets beat the Packers (in New York). We beat the Falcons, Dave Wandstadt blew the Dolphins game in the final minutes (literally five minutes after Earl Holmes stonewalled Warrick Dunn at the Cleveland goal line on 4th and goal - as what was left of section 110 eagerly watched through the Team Shop glass on a tiny tv) and then we needed Curtis Martin to BLOW up and upset the Packers...which happened.

To this day, it is the most enjoyable time I've ever had at a game. I even remember what I did the night before, the reason is because I remember thinking "If they win tomorrow, I want to remember everything, even tonight." That Saturday night was 1820 days ago. A lot has happened in that time, but one thing has not. I have not once felt like I did that Saturday night.

The anticipation, the fear, the confusion as to what it will feel like to be back in the NFL playoffs, a feeling still associated with being twelve, like I was the last time. A feeling warped and formed into one without the overwhelming and underlying feeling of instantaneous triumph or sixty minute destruction that years of baseball's seven game series had instilled in me as an adult fan. But here I was, wondering if tomorrow, I would rekindle that emotion. I would be able to awake next Sunday, and there would be a football game. When it came to something this important, even Saturday night was memorable.

The next day was perfect. Early morning tailgating with my best friends. A cold and dreary Cleveland day punctuated by moment after moment, and thoughts of "So this is what it is like."

Atlanta fumbled deep in their own territory after a bueno Gardocki punt. Holcomb, in for the injured Couch (again) found KJ on third and goal. We were up one. A quick stop. A punt to the thirty. Too much time on the clock. We need to eat up clock. 1st down, Green for four yards. Good, lets get four more here. Being at the game I missed Donovan's now famous call, but I will do my best to recite it here without cuing it up.

"Holcomb underneath center, milking the clock. 2nd down they give it to Green, Green stutter step and HE'S THROUGH! GREEN 40, 45, 50, 45, 40, RUN WILLIAM RUN, 20, 15, 10, 5....TOUCHDOWN!!!!"

I was at the Jets 2OT game but I was 5. I was at Metcalf's two punt returns, but I was eleven. This was the best moment of my life as a Browns fan. Ironically, I didn't see it. As Green broke through the line, cut right and outran the linebackers, he had one man to beat: cornerback Ashley Ambrose, number 33. All day, he had gotten past that first wave, and all day, Ambrose, or a safety, or a quick linebacker would trip him up saving a touchdown. As Ambrose approached Green from behind, my frantic friend Jon, grabbed me with both hands and tackled me. I gathered from the crowd noise that Ambrose came up short. We were up 8. Atlanta was only getting one more possession, and moments later the PA guy came on, let everyone, particularly the Falcons, know that the Saints had lost, clinching the 6th and final NFC playoff spot for Atlanta.

That night, as Martin ran all over the Packers, I remember watching from Champps in Lyndhurst. IN attendance that night was Browns receivers coach Terry Robiske, whom we were able to identify despite his lack of star power. Two years later he was the Browns head coach, and as I write this today, his dinner partner that evening, a fifteen year old Chagrin Falls sophomore named Brian Robiske, is one of the most valuable players on the Big Ten Champion Ohio State Buckeyes. But all we cared about was the Jets. It was over by halftime. We were going to the playoffs.

Now here I am, 1819 days later, wondering what tomorrow morning will bring. What will I remember. What Ashley Ambroses, Warrick Dunns or William Greens will creep into my memory forever after tomorrow's game? Or will it be a dissapointment?

1812 days ago, Dennis Northcutt became etched in my memory for dropping a pass on third and nine that would have sealed that playoff game. If he catches it, things might have been different. Think, that that one ball careening off the fingers of a man paid to do nothing but make sure that ball doesn't hit the brown Pittsburgh turf, could have changed so much. After that game the questions started piling up.

Holcomb or Couch? Who's to blame, Butch, Foge Fazio or the players? Maybe one more playoff game would expose a more nagging weak spot to discourage us from drafting a center in the first round. Or maybe another big Green day would help him secure his job and stay out of trouble in the future. Maybe it wouldn't, but 1820 days is a long time to wonder.

Here's to a Browns win tomorrow, and never waiting this long to get here again.

Go Browns

Friday, December 21, 2007

LeBron and "taking it strong"

Ya know how when your passing game is working in football how it opens up the running game? We've seen this really well all year with the Browns, even last week when some early fifteen yard passes kept the Bills from lining up with seventeen guys on the line of scrimmage despite that fact that they knew they were running. This is a luxury that guys like Adrian Peterson and the Raven FORMERLY known as Jamal Lewis do not know of.

Well, has anyone ever considered that this idea works in other sports? Constantly people are criticizing Lebron for not "taking it strong" or "settling for jumpers". Maybe there is something to this. Have we considered that the greatest basketball player alive knows what he's doing?

Have you seen him try to dribble into the lane during a set. He gets swarmed, killed and beaten up. Occasionally he'll get free, or find an open teammate for a look, but almost as often as that he is eaten up, hit, and forced into a bad situation.

This is the SAME thing that happens to a running back with no passing game. So what do you do? You find the tight end over the middle to occupy a line backer. You send a slot guy deep to occupy the safety, and if those plays are successful, the aforementioned linebacker and safety are kept honest, can't key on the run, and leaves the O-Line two less guys to worry about. A two yard gain turns into a six yard gain.

The same thing needs to happen with LeBron. LeBron NEEDS to take jumpers. First off, despite popular belief that he can't shoot - he is actually one of the better off the dribble shot makers in the league. Put next to T-Mac and Kobe he looks like Michael Cage, but LeBron has a similar outside game to guys like Vince, Baron Davis or Paul Pierced. I'm not saying he has as good of form as them, or can hit three balls like them, but his shot is on par with theirs, it is just a smaller part of his game because of his amazing ability to make plays with his strength and athleticism.

I know, it seems that when he drives, good things happen. But those drives are PRODUCTS of his shooting. Those drives are part of a bigger picture of his game, and with the current state of the woeful Cavs, maybe we do need LeBron to shoot more.

Think back to his signature game, his 48 pointer last year. His two dunks at the end of regulation were products of a few things. Number 1, he had hit consecutive jumpers the last two times down. Number 2, the Pistons were in a late game mentality trying hard not to foul (watch Tayshaun Prince's 'defense'), and three, for one of them, all he had to do was beat "The Mayor" Jason Maxciel off the dribble and get a running start on Wallace. Easy bucket.

But in the 2 OT's - it was his outside game that won the game. Until the final minute of each period he hit jumper after jumper knowing that he would NEVER get a serious shot attempt in the paint. Jumper over prince on the left wing - behind the back dribble and jumper over Billups at the top of the key - jumper over 3 guys from 20 feeet on the right wing - three ball on the left wing - THEN, after all this, with the Pistons again going into no foul mode and fearing the 18 footer more than ever before, he waltzes into the lane (gets hacked) and hits the game winning lay up.

No one complained that 80% of the shots he took in the 10 minutes of overtime (in which he scored 18 points) were jumpers. He HAD to take them. If he didn't make them, we lose the game - thank god he made them. But to call him out (like Cheryl Miller did after last night's game) for not taking it to the hoop would be like chiding an offensive coordinator for not running up the gut with a big running back despite the 9 man box. If it's not there - then start throwing!

LeBron without a doubt needs to get better at shooting, but to tell him to stop shooting and consistently dribble into traffic despite 8-9 men in the box is ineffective and a losing strategy. There are definite improvements that need to be made to the Cavaliers offense (like the way they use LeBron) but to call him out personally for him playing the game the right way is wrong.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why I Love Inside the NBA

Ok, so anyone that knows me knows I hate announcers, commentators, analysts, color men, play by players or ANYONE that puts their face on TV and pretends to care for 45 seconds while they simultaneously accomplish two goals: collect a pay check and piss me off. However, almost never, does a paid talking head or announcer say ANYTHING enlightening, informative or useful.

There are obviously some rare exceptions. Most radio guys are great. Some national guys I tolerate include Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit, Brad Nessler and others, but generally I can't stand the guys.

Howard Cossell used to complain about Don Merideth, that just because someone played the game, this fact does not make him a goo broadcaster. And this is generally true. That being said, I don't think that is the fundamental problem.

The biggest problem is that there is NO accountability. Guy's make predictions and analyses that are not monitored or cared for. This lack of accountability leads to lazy and uninformed analysis. For instance, a guy like Sean Salisbury, probably watches less football than any of us. He MIGHT watch highlights of the Browns Bills game, maybe he'll fast forward through the game. But he doesn't get a feel for the ebb and flo. He doesn't have an earthly idea about the Browns' offensive trends, or Buffalo's history in the snow - but he watches some highlights, makes a dumb comment that MIGHT have something to do with what happened - but because there is NO accountability, saying something like "Jamal Lewis had a great game in the snow" becomes insightful and called "analysis."

Really, all he did was tell us exactly what we watched, but because he backed up Bubby Brister, wears a suit, gets his ugly mug on tv, we're all supposed to buy into it. And furthermore, why do we need 2 hours of analysis about a game in which 8 points we scored. The real analysis comes from the bloggers who follow the team, and the players themselves. But these guys are uneducated, poor broadcasters who no the same amount about football as us.

But this is different in a few examples. Chris and Tom on NFL Primetime come to mind. Another example is Inside the NBA on TNT.

The reason we all love this show is the LACK of analysis. Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith know a lot about basketball, and use their knowledge when they have to. But they understand the idea that over-analysis, over-exposure and arrogant chitter chatter does not good analysis make. They are only one for a short period of time. They don't tell you what you just saw. They joke, they kid, they talk about their own experience (which is why they were hired in the first place) and they talk about the future without the "this is what's going to happen" tone.

They know they their guess in the world of sports is as good as ours, and to sit there and say "this will happen because I know what I'm talking about" is both insulting and false. Neither they, nor us, nor Paul Hoynes, Tony Grossi, or one of the Three-Named-Marys knows ANYTHING about what's going to happen.

Paul Hoynes is paid to do NOTHING but follow the Indians, and he picked them to finish fourth in the division this year. I'm not saying I could have done better (which I did) but the point is that pre-season predictions are more than anything: previous year recaps. So there is no qualifications for better predictions, better analysis, or better commentary. Merely a sense of humor, screen presence and a vague familiarity with the game. That's all I want.

And Inside the NBA gives us that. I watched tonight, and at no point did I get angry, insulted or think that these people need to be forcefully removed. In fact, I found it entertaining. Sports networks should take notes. I didn't leave more informed, I didn't learn who was going to win the West or who you'd rather be taking the last shot between Kobe, Lebron or Newble. Simply entertaining basketball talk from three guys who played and a great studio host.

That's all I want. Is it so damn hard?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Letter To Eric Wedge

I wrote this fictional letter to Eric Wedge days before the end of the season. It is a direct attack on the Eric Wedge haters of the world, showing how well he managed 2007. I miss Tribe baseball a lot, and this is a good letter


Dear Eric Wedge,

Welcome to the 2007 season of baseball. Considering last year's terrible record, your expectations for this season cannot be very high, but we're going to let you know what's in store for you this season. First let's discuss your off-season pickups.

We know you're expecting big things from the additions of David Delluci and Trot Nixon. Even if you're not expecting big numbers, we know you can at least anticipate mild production from your two biggest free agent pickups, and guys with great track records in the corner outfield spots. Unfortunately, neither of these guys are going to do much. You'll get seven home runs, and fifty-one RBI from them combined. By mid July, neither will be getting regular playing time, and will be non-factors.

As far as your infielders go, 75% of the infield will be turned over this year. Unfortunately, as you already know, you won't have a lock at 1st base until mid-May – hopefully, first base isn't that big of a priority. As far as the trade you made for the new franchise second baseman, expect about a .250 average, and three homeruns. Oh, like Nixon and Delucci, Barfield won't play much after August 5th. Sorry. And your new franchise third baseman, Andy Marte? Well, he'll hit .267 with 16 home runs in 352 at bats…in Buffalo. Don't expect much from the new infield, because by August 1st, it will have turned over 75% again. Sorry.

Now to your pitching acquisitions.: Your new closer? Oh, he retired. But you already knew that, so you'll have to find a replacement for him. Unfortunately it won't be your answer, nor will your 6 million dollar setup man Roberto Hernandez. He'll give you 28 appearances, post a 6.23 ERA and will be cut by June and replaced with a AA reliever. Your free agent that will assume the closer role Joe Borowksi? Good luck winning the close ones with his 5.00 ERA. Nothing will come easy, but how many games can you possibly be leading in anyways? Let's look at the setup.

Your division includes the last 2 American League champions. Teams your going to have to play a combined 36 times. Oh, and neither of these teams won the division last year, that team thrown in amounts to 56 of your games or 35% of your schedule. Sorry. In addition to your crazy division, you'll also be forced to face the two time defending Cy Young award winner six times. That's right, I'm sorry, but almost 4% of your games will be against the best pitcher in baseball. And of the three no hitters thrown this year, two of them will be from guys in your division, and guys you'll have to face a total of ten times. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that you have a good pitching staff too. Well, let me tell you something about your pitching staff.

Your 1 and your 5 will be great. It's your 2-3-4 I need to warn you about. Between you're 2-3-4 starters, you'll get 52 starts. They'll post a combined 5.51 ERA, and go a combined 12-23. Two of them will spend most of the season in Buffalo, and one will miss 2 months on the DL. So as far as your dominant staff goes, you're kind of on your own.

At least you have your offense though right? Well, unfortunately, your two best players in the 2006 campaign aren't really going to be big factors this year. Grady and Travis will hit a combined .267 with a combined 260 strikeouts. They'll both be good, but neither will give you the production I know your expecting to counter all of the disappointing off-season acquisitions.

So, now that you know how your roster is going to shape up, maybe you can make some early adjustments and avoid another disappointing first half. I know you're in Chicago right now, and I'd love to send this letter to Jacob's Field, but you won't play a game there for two more weeks. Speaking of which, if you still think you could win with this group, let me make one more point. Every team in the league gets 81 home games, and 81 road games except for two. This year, Seattle is going to have 82 home games and 80 road games. Lucky guys. Hope they lose their manager in the middle of a winning streak or something. As far as you guys go, you guys get 77 at home and 85 on the road. You should be able to compensate.

I know you've got this season. Keep in mind if you fall short of a division championship, you'll most likely be looking for work by the end of October. Have a great year.

Good Luck,
The Fates

Not in yet

"Haven't won anything yet.....still got one game to go." - [Tribe catcher] Jake Taylor

Remember the night that Indians beat Wakefield in game 4. Remember we started making plans for the next week – where we would watch the World Series, who we would be watching it with – it was almost as if we had been waiting for this moment for 43 years, and now we had the opportunity to plan exactly how we would remember the first Cleveland championship of many of our lifetimes.

I remember coming home that night and watching SportsCenter, something I NEVER do, and I will never forget, during the highlights of the seven run inning, they flashed to C.C. in the dugout and John Anderson said “What does C.C. stand for? Colorado and Cleveland!”
I wasn’t even mad – we were going to the World Series, against a cupcake. This was it. This was Elway, and Byner, Justice and Mesa….Edgar F-ing Renteria – it was all about to end. Thursday was C.C., Saturday was Fausto; the series was over. By this time next week, everything would be different.

And then it wasn’t even a surprise when it happened. I didn’t feel guilty for expecting victory, but it didn’t blow my mind when Beckett, Youkilis and Dustin freaking Pedroia won the next three games. There was depression, but not shock – there was misery, but not regret.

While it never dawned on me that we might not go to the World Series, it also never really seemed real. There is no reality for a feeling you’ve never had before.

Fast Forward to this week. The national media has christened these Browns a playoff team. All of us are scouting who we’d rather play, and dissecting scenarios for home field advantage. We’re complaining about which Browns didn’t make the Pro-Bowl. THE PRO-BOWL!!!

If 15 weeks ago, someone would tell you that after fourteen games, the Browns would be a win away from the playoffs, would you ever think that the biggest topic of conversation that week was that ONLY two Browns made the damn Pro-Bowl????

This is NOT over. Just like the Tribe, I am already making plans for Sunday, January 6th. I am already formulating a ticket strategy should the Browns come out West against The Whale’s Vagina.

But if Carson Palmer and Frank Gore have other plans, and the Browns collapse, the Titans win two games their supposed to and January 6th is instead spent watching the Cavs play the Raptors, will we be that surprised??

Will it come as such a shock that the Browns shot themselves in the foot and couldn’t win two games they should have won? Would it not be too familiar to hurt if the Browns fly a little too close to the sun and come crashing down leaving another offseason filled with questions and complaints.

Remember after the Steelers playoff game. Why did they go to the prevent? Why did Butch call that 2nd down passing play. Why did Dennis Northcutt pick that f-ing time, to drop that f-ing pass.

Would it be that big of a shock? So until we clinch, and until the Niners game is merely an exhibition that people paid ridiculous amounts of money to attend, can we please focus on the task at hand.

We are playing a team that dropped 46 on us in Week 2, not exactly lightweights. And yes…we’ll be near the…..some burgers, some laughs, our troubles will be over.
But only if we win. Just thank god Josh Becket isn't playing for Cincy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pro Bowl Complaints

I think that after the blogosphere has time to digest today's pro-bowl rosters there are going to be some very upset people. And rightfully, for even I feel somewhat slighted. Most egregious was the om mission of Joe Thomas in favor of Jonathan Ogden. And I don't want the "but he's a rookie" talk. What does that have to do with winning and losing, and playing the best left tackle in the AFC.

But that's not what I'm writing about now. I think that this subject is one that is valid, but I think a little irrelevant. Who cares about the pro-bowl. The well known former trivia question of "who was the only Brown to make the pro-bowl since 1999" is no longer a question thanks to Braylon Ettwards and Joshua Cribbs. Hopefully they don't tear every ligament in their leg next year during the first pre-season game a la Jamir "fact that he was our only pro-bowler is the only reason anyone remembers him" Miller.

It is irrelevant. That team went 7-9. This team will most likely at least go 10-6. That team featured Benjamin Gay, Percy Ellsworth and Jujuan Dawson in prominent roles. This one has Jamal, Sean Jones and Winslow. The pro-bowl doesn't matter. The lack of respect doesn't matter.

It is always fodder for teams to use "lack of respect" as locker room chalk board material.

"No one believed we could do this but us."

"We proved the critics wrong."

No you didn't. You finished in last place last year and no one expected you to make the playoffs based on that. Your starting quarterback lost the job in preseason to a guy who was worth a second day draft pick, and your biggest free agent signee in the last two years gets his mail at the Cleveland Clinic. You lost on opening day by 30 to a team that finished .500 last year and had a new home.

Of course we thought you sucked...because you sucked. So now when Winslow, Thomas, Steinbach et al get snubbed for the pro-bowl we're supposed to eat this up as more disrespect? The two are NOT related. In one case, the "lack of respect" was based on prior results, empirical data and pretty concrete and visable facts. This "lack of respect" is based on and ignorant media and lazy coaches/players.

What role does the media have?? They are the ones that portray the players and establish a consciousness about who they are. Winslow has significantly more catches, significantly more yards and is on a significantly more potent offense than Antonio Gates, but is portrayed as an immature hothead.

Joe Thomas is on a MUCH better offense than Ogden, anchors a much more dominating O line than Ogden and has played in significantly more games - and oh by they way, has given up 2 sacks all year - but is portrayed as a "rookie" in the NFL which apparently has something to do with play - despite starting in week 1.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that this "disrespect" for Browns players has nothing to do with real disrespect, just ignorance and laziness. I am willing to bet that every right end that has played Baltimore and Cleveland this year would vote for Thomas, just like I am willing to bet that every defensive coordinator that had to scheme against both Kansas City and Cleveland this year, would vote for Winslow. It isn't "disrespect" - it is ignorance.

And it is IRRELEVANT (I am somewhat scolding myself). Move on, beat the Bengals, beat the niners, beat the Squealers for one time. People that were born on the day the last time they beat the Squealers just turned 4. They start Kindgergarden next year. Don't worry about the disrespect and just go out and win.

Only then will superior players be recognized as superior.

p.s. Congratulations to my alma mater, Kent State, for sending not 1, not 2, but three grads to the pro bowl. Granted one of them never played football and the other sold pot, but still three probowlers is better than most schools. Even if one of them didn't deserve it.

My Conversation with the Editor of the Plain Dealer

Ok, so it's no secret that I hate the Plain Dealer. I think they are a cynical, bitter and uninformed newspaper who treats their readers like unintelligent and naive drones. The writers are so bad that it is at times insulting and the entire mood of the paper (yes, this includes Terry Pluto) is a complete air of elitism, despite not having a single satisfied reader. So, a few weeks ago, I e-mailed the sports editor re: the errors that I constantly find in the paper, and maybe get a response. I wrote this the day after the Browns v Seahawks game when Tony Grossi wrote that it was the first Browns OT game in like three years. Here is my letter:

Dear Mr. Hewitt,

I have never done this, and I would never do this if this wasn't becoming such a chronic problem. Real quick, let me tell you where I am coming from. I am a lifetime Cleveland Sports fan who last year moved to Southern California to go to graduate school. In fact, I am
writing you in between theory and method papers, but I was so eager to write to you, that I couldn't begin my next paper without expressing my disappointment and concern about the state of your sports dept.
Let the record show, that unfortunately, I consider the Plain Dealer my last source of sports journalism. I tend to read blogs and national stories before I end up at the Plain Dealer. This is based on the fact that I find most of your "journalists" to be bland and
cynical and rarely offering any information that I haven't gathered by myself by watching a particular event, and when they do offer opinions, it just so happens that I almost universally disagree with all of them. But this e-mail is not about opinions, it is about facts. But it should be noted, that while I will be writing to you about three separate incidents, my low rate of even viewing these articles leads me to believe that there are many more instances that I
am missing. but in the last 6 months, in about the thirty Plain Dealer articles I've read, I've notices three factual errors. And for me to notice an error, I need to recognize it immediately as an error and without the luxury of a fact checker or editor, call shenanigans. While none of the errors were particularly harmful to the experience, they completely destroy the article's and author's integrity and paint a picture of a lazy and uninterested staff that I find offensive as a reader.
I will list the three errors I found and you be the judge (keep in mind, I do not search for errors, I merely recognize them while reading)

1. May 16th - Cavs Playoffs agains the Nets - Mary Schmidt Boyer
"He [Jason Kidd] did, however, have a career-playoff-high 17 rebounds, including 14 defensive. His assist total would have been higher if his teammates had managed to shoot better than a measly 36 percent." In an article lauding Kidd as a great floor general (which he was) she
incorrectly cited that the reason he didn't have more assists was because of his "teammates" low shooting percentage. Unfortunately the % she gave was the Nets team shooting %, including Jason Kidd's which just so happened to be 2-13 for the night. So when you remove that number, and actually give his teammate's shooting percentage (which is what she claims she is giving), the Nets actually shot a very respectable 40.3% from the field. This is a small statistical error that does two things. One it completely invalidates her argument that Kidd isn't getting the credit he deserves because his teammates are missing shots when in reality it
is Kidd himself who is dragging the shooting % down. And it points out her inability to interpret a box score, a playoff box score mind you, while writing an article about statistics. This "minor error" leaves the article and the author with no integrity, and completely
invalidates any statistical research she gave for the remainder of the playoffs.

2. October 10th - The day before the start of the Indians Red Sox
series - Paul Hoynes
I'm not sure how to pull up the article, but in his series preview, Hoynes recalls the back to back 1-0 games at Jacob's field in late July. He remarks how Sabathia bested Dice-K 1-0, and the next day Fausto beat Beckett 1-0. He then goes on to talk about how the Indians have the advantage in the pitchers duels. One problem: Dice-K beat CC 1-0. This was teh grossest error in that Hoynes went on for a few sentences discussing the importance of these two victories and what they mean for the upcoming series. What was weird about this, is that this game occurred a mere 10 weeks earlier, and most of the people I talked to remembered every detail of the game, let alone the result. Here is an Indians beat reporter, who is paid to merely watch baseball games and tell us what he saw, and he can't remember the most memorable back to back games of the season. I remember where I was, as do most of my acquaintances, and I live in LA. What was this guy talking about, and furthermore, how did this get published?!? In fact, Hoynes mentioned that it was in fact Sabathia and Betancourt who finished off the Red Sox 1-0, this requires looking at a box score right? I mean, he can remember the reliever, but not who won the game? And then to be so sure of your memory (which is patently wrong) to not only print the fact without so much as googling "Sabathia Matsuzaka 1-0" but to go on and write a
paragraph about this fantasy game? This was where I started to become concerned.

and then Yesterday

3. November 5 - Coverage of Browns Seahawks - Tony Grossi
"He moved the Seahawks 67 yards to set up Josh Brown's 22-yard field goal as time expired and caused the Browns' first overtime game since 2004."
Really? Really Tony? This one absolutely blew my mind. Not just because the Fox crew mentioned the 2006 game against the Chiefs several times during Sunday's telecast, but as soon as I saw this I immediately called four friends, 2 die hards, and 2 casual fans, none of which get paychecks to do nothing but follow the team and said "when was the last Browns overtime game?" All 4 (ALL 4) responded quickly with "Last year against the Cheifs". I called my father who thinks that Turkey Jones was to blame for the bad pass rush Sunday, and HE KNEW. This game was LAST YEAR. It was the most memorable game of the year. It was Derek Anderson's debut! It is the only game I actually remember well! Is he serious? So I took it upon myself to google "Cleveland Browns Overtime 2006" - do it and look at the third
one down. Not exactly deep academic research. How does this happen? How do you let this happen? We don't need fact checkers, we need competence!

And THAT is the fundamental problem. None of these facts are fact checker facts. Writing a story in which you tell of an instance when a particular player was involved in a college game needs a fact checker. Referencing the 64 championship game might need a few facts checked. But the ability to read a box score, the ability to remember a game that occurred 10 weeks earlier, and remembering the most memorable game of the season before - are not fact checker
responsibilities. We're talking about utter and obvious incompetence. These people are your "beat reporters" but when they write this stuff, not only does it destroy the integrity of your paper, but it makes me weary of EVERYTHING i read on your pages. I won't be able to recognize every error, so when Bill Livingston writes his annual "Eric Wedge doesn't know what he's doing" column and supports it with his reasons, I have EVERY reason to believe that his supports are at least not checked, and likely downright wrong. I know it is a shame what
has happened to the newspaper industry in the era of the blog, and I know how hard it can be to try to compete. But when I read swerbsblurbs, or mistake by the lake (which I always do BEFORE I get to the PD) I don't find these gross error, because I know that these people care about their integrity, but more so, I know they are fans. You can ask the bloggers who won the CC - DiceK game, and they won't need to google it, they're remember. My friends remembered the Browns Chiefs game, shouldn't a paid fan like Grossi. And I'll bet you that the bloggers can read a box score and pick out what is important, not what is wrong and irrelevant. Like I said earlier, I only read the PD when something big happens (Cavs Playoffs, ALCS, Browns over Seahawks) so I'm sure these error occur often and go unnoticed. But this is why your paper is now the 5th fiddle in a city when it used to be king. Maybe instead of hiring Terry Pluto for big bucks, you should put out an ad on craigslist (cuz god knows no one reads the classifieds in the PD anymore):

Fact Checker needed
No qualifications other than being a Cleveland Sports Fan
You follow sports so we don't have to.

You might save a few readers,

Thank You
Matt Glassman
So 2 hours later, I get an email response

Mr. Glassman,
Thank you for writing and pointing out some mistakes. Unfortunately, some articles do include mistakes, particularly when they are written on deadline. We try to always be accurate, but sometimes we miss something. I apologize for that.
We also try to correct any mistakes we make, printing a correction on Page 2 of the A section. This is usually done the next day.
Again, thank you for writing.
Roy Hewitt
Sports Editor
It's almost as if he didn't read anything I wrote to him. He doesn't get that I'm not concerned with dumb errors, or silly mistakes, but my concern is complete disinterest by his staff. It is offensive. What's more offensive is that the sports editor doesn't seem to care. So I wrote this right back to him. Not my potliteness despite my anger.

I think, Mr. Hewitt, you have missed my point. I did not write to you to point out the errors in your department. Nor did I write to you under the impression that articles don't include mistakes, whether they are written on deadline or not. I think I spent a good deal of time on that fact, and I am a little upset you could not gather that from the length I went to and time I spent writing to you. If it was incorrect data or irrelevant factual errors that were really bothering me, I doubt would have contacted the editor of a major newspaper and pointed out the minor flaws in his staff's reports. I, like I mentioned earlier, was pointing out the obvious and often ridiculous statements that your paper is making that are patently WRONG. I am arguing that there is a different between an error and a false statement. The examples I brought up earlier are not errors which slipped through and can be blamed on the pressures of a deadline or chalked up to the God's of "shit happens". No, it is the fact that a casual fan can recognize these errors without research, and that the articles are being written with the support of not true information that is the problem here. These facts cannot be blamed on deadlines or inevitability, but on either incompetence, laziness or downright stupidity. I hate to use words like these, and I'm sure their harshness is weakening my argument by absurdity, but if you do take a step back and realize that Tony Grossi, your Browns Beat Reporter, the
guy who you give a daily podcast to, with the idea that he watches Browns games, doesn't remember a game that occurred less than a year ago, and doesn't have the time nor consciousness to merely go to google and find out when the last overtime game was - can not be defended on the deadline crutch. Nor can your Cavaliers beat reporters inability to read something as simple as a box score, or your Indians Beat reporter to remember the result (not the details, but the result) of one of the most critical games of the year, one that occurred 10 weeks earlier, and one in which he was basing an entire column upon, falsely. I'm sorry Mr. Hewitt, but maybe your definition of journalistic integrity differs from mine, but as a fan,
as someone who watches the games for my own personal pleasure, and merely reads the articles the following day as an artifact to reify that experience - I am offended and put off when your paper does not have the same interest as myself.

I apologize for the harshness of my critique and I pray I have not
offended you as to not deserve a response.

Thank you for your time
Matt Glassman
I never got a response.

I hate the plain dealer

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fuck Yahoo Crosswords

this is the letter I wrote to yahoo after 37 across today was "conduct a trial" 3 letters and the answer was try.

Ummmmm. Conduct a Trial > Try??? Are you kidding? I cannot believe this is in a crossword. When I first saw the clue, I thought to myself "try" but then realized that the word was in the clue. You can't do this. Both words (though not directly related in english) derive from the old french trier, and basically a trial is an extension of to try. I'm sorry, but this is not a mom and pop operation, you should be ashamed of yourselves, I only do your crossword, because it is generally easier, less engaging and somewhat more relaxing on my mind than any other available. It is the American Idol of shitty crosswords, and you have just crossed a crossword line and I hope you pay dearly for it. I hope you all burn in crossword hell, and never get to practice your crossword terrorism on the good people of the word again. Thank you for your time.

Coach 80

There has been a lot of talk this year about the reason for the Browns’ success. The revamped and ridiculously effective offensive line. The change at quarterback. The hard nosed, 4 quarter running back that has been very effective in keeping defenses honest. Josh Cribbs and the unfair field position effects he imposes. But I am going to say that all of those things are merely products of another aspect: Kellen Winslow.

Winslow’s effects are easily seen on paper and in the box score. He almost has 1,000 yards receiving, he has a ton of catches, and all of his numbers need to be adjusted for weeks 1 and 15 when he had Charlie Frye throwing him the ball and a Hothesque snow storm to deal with, respectively.

Even beyond his numbers, his effects on the rest of the team’s strategy cannot be put into words. His over the middle prowess keeps safeties honest leaving single coverage on either Braylon or Jurevicious almost universally. His short yardage prowess and virtual invincibility against linebackers makes running the ball SO much easier. And his hands are so reliable and at times spectacular, that he makes the quarterback look good almost all of the time.

But there is an X factor that he brings and that is leadership. Yes, that Kellen Winslow is a leader. I will actually go as far as saying that he is more responsible for the winning culture the Browns have adopted this year than the head coach. And I am not a Crennel basher. I think Crennel is the coach of the year, but he has help from his on field coach, Winslow.

First off, Winslow got a bad rap as a “head case” from his showboating and his famous “soldier” sound byte. As far as showboating, he’s always been the best player on his team. He’s always been unstoppable. And he went to the University of Miami whose football culture is showboating. Michael Irvin, Ed Reed and Winslow’s game was talking trash, it makes them better. As for the soldier issue – his only real mistake was misjudging the era he lived in. An era when athletes are no longer allowed to be “heroes” and using the word “soldier” in any context outside of supporting the ones in Iraq is blasphemy. Winslow plays a game in which men are hitting each other as hard as they can, and trying to hurt the enemy. In fact, to bring up George Carlin’s famous jokes, the quarterback is a field general, hurling bombs and launching an aerial assault. In the heat of the moment, it is war, and he was a soldier. But this made him a head case.

People have been surprised at Winslow’s maturity and focus this year. This was a guy who completely destroyed teams in college, and in the pros had never played on a team that could be remotely called good. Now that his team is winning, and he is playing a huge role, he’s matured. He’s still talking trash, showboating and keeping his mouth open. He’s the same guy, but the winning makes people think he’s “matured.”

I really believe that Winslow has been more than the best player on the team this year, and has that X factor. That culture creating, inspirational factor than outweighs what any other future pro bowler is doing. These are some examples I have noticed this year. Keep in mind, I’m sure there are more but these were visible to me, and I think important.

- Week 1, After the rout was on, Frye was pulled and the Browns still sucked, DA fumbled. I was at this game, and I can’t express the sorrow that was prominent throughout the stadium. There was no cheering, no hope and no excitement. The year was over. Crennel mistakenly challenged Anderson’s fumble, and the offense slowly walked off the field. It was hard to remember that there was 35 minutes of football left, and we were only down 17. We were ready to go home. But as the offense walked off the field and the defense walked on, one person bucked the trend. Winslow stayed on to greet the beleaguered defense. He walked up to each tired and outmanned defensive player and grabbed each one of them. I was 100 yards away, but I could understand what he was saying. He was getting in their face and not letting them forget this was still a football game. He walked off the field and raised his arms, begging the 80,000 tired, wet and hopeless fans to rise up and give us hope. He was here to win.

- Week 1 again, The Browns finally scored. Down a ridiculous and insurmountable deficit, Derek Anderson threw his least important touchdown of the year. He found Lawrence Vickers in the back right corner of the east endzone. Vickers started to do a touchdown dance and humiliate himself. Winslow walked over to him, told him to stop and sent him back to the sideline. He then calmly picked up the ball and brought it back to Vickers. It was his first career TD, Winslow wanted him to have it.

- Week 2, The Browns were getting beat by the Bengals. They still hadn’t found that stride we’ve become familiar with today. 3 drives had resulted in 6 points, and if they were going to stay with the high powered Bengals, they would need to put together some drives. Winslow had 1 catch for a few yards. Then on third and long, Anderson found Winslow over the middle. First Down. Winslow gets up, throws his hands up and stares at his own bench. You can almost hear him saying “See what happens when you throw my direction. We get first downs.” Some would view this as selfish, but Winslow isn’t selfish, he wants to win and knows that in order to win, they half to look his direction. He’s the most talented player on the field and if he’s open, give him the ball.

- Week 15, Winslow was a non-factor in this game. No game winning catches like in Baltimore. No ridiculous TD catches like against Houston. The snow took away his strengths (footwork and hands) and made it a muscle game. Winslow knew this. Late in the second quarter, with the Browns moving the ball, they broke huddle and Winslow walked across the huddle and headbutted Jamal. That play (like 32 others) was a run to Jamal. When a team calls a running play, they break huddle and block. Winslow wanted to give his boy a jolt. This may not seem like a big thing, but for a guy many perceive as selfish and arrogant, it showed his true priorities. He wasn’t on that day, but he wanted to know he had Jamal. I loved this moment.

That’s the thing about Kellen. He is an on field coach. He wants to win more than anyone I’ve ever seen. His attitude is as contagious as anyone’s. Not to mention he might be the most talented player on a team that could have seven pro bowlers. Of those seven, no one deserves it more than him.