(As previously un-seen on my Cleveland.com blog)
I haven’t done this in a while. Computers were broken, motivations ran lukewarm for a long period of time, different blogs were created with grand intentions and forgotten about not-so-grandly. And now, I struggle to come up with something to write about. The only thing I could think of was to try to review my experience with sports in Cleveland.
The year began with my toilet being backed up in my apartment in Michigan. The year will end with me back in Ohio, and that’s all that has seemed to change (we’ll see about the toilet back home). I was barely able to sleep New Year’s Day, as I had to prevent my bathroom from being flooded while waiting for any store nearby to open so I could make my many trips to and from the apartment trying to bring back anything to fix the damn toilet.
The Browns were just completing another disappointing season of football. I was glad to be in Michigan for 2011 because I was able to avoid watching the games and growing upset every Sunday afternoon, and depressed as the sun went down. I enjoyed watching the Lions air it out as I received angry calls from my friends and my dad back home, complaining about the same game plan that the Browns have seemed to implement for over a decade. Though we have changed coaches several times (and several times more after that) during that time, nothing has changed the proverbial ‘script’ each game seems to follow.
The Brows were a mess again, Peyton Hillis was run out of town (Madden/contract/terrible agent advice/terrible advice in general curse as assumed reason), and Colt McCoy was berated into a poor rookie season
Browns, 5-11. Cavs at least had Kyrie Irving.
I don’t really watch basketball. Wait, strike that: I don’t really watch the NBA. From top to bottom, I believe it is the worst worst professional sports outfit in the world. I could write a lot about this, pretty convincingly I believe, but I won’t do that now. I did tune in to the first game of Kyrie Irving’s career with the Cavs though (on and off at least) to see what he was capable of. Needless to say, his future looked bright. He had his outstanding rookie year, and I even watched the NBA Draft when it came up later in the season to see how we might be able to improve.
Pitchers and catchers started reporting to spring training. The sun looked hot and the grass was very green. Ubaldo Jimenez had apparently dealt with the mechanical hiccups in his delivery, as was ready to be our ace. Fausto Carmona was coming back. We had done surprisingly well the year before, and I was truly excited to see what we were capable of doing with another year of seasoning. The season started out well. We were in first place for the first couple months, or at least nearby as Detroit floundered and Chicago exceeded expectations.
The NFL Draft came. I hoped we would get Trent Richardson. I thought he would be a great running back. I wanted us to trade for RG3, but not at the expense of our entire draft. We offered virtually the same package Washington offered, and we were rebuffed. At the time, I was upset we were rejected for offering basically an identical offer (perhaps an even better offer), but I felt alright about it leading up to the draft because I felt it would be a mistake to mortgage such a bevvy of value in order to get a quarterback not everyone was completely sold on. I mean, I liked RG3, but we have been burned so many times by quarterbacks in the draft I was fine with having more picks. At the time.
I know I don’t have a front office spot with any sports organization, and I understand why. It’s not only because of my youth and inexperience: I have kept a mental tally of how many times I’ve been wrong in the past few years with regards to what our teams should have done in various situations. Far more often than not I am completely wrong with what I think should be done. I thought the Cavs should have signed Eddy Curry after he had his breakout year with the Bulls to help LeBron. I thought it was a good idea for the Browns to our first pick away last year to the Falcons so they could draft Julio Jones. After all, we got their first round pick, another first round pick, and a third round pick. I could keep going on and on, but it would make this take far longer.
What we ended up getting for basically Julio Jones: Brandon Weeden, Phil Taylor, Owen Marecic. Tom Heckert has made some good draft choices in his tenure with the Browns: Haden, Ward, Winn, Hughes, Schwartz – I even like Phil Taylor a lot. But he will probably lose his job because of Brandon Weeden.
When we drafted Brandon, at the time, I was shocked. The Browns had already drafted Trent. I had heard we were going to target Kendall Wright, the wide receiver from Baylor, with our next pick. We needed help at the wide receiver spot. He was picked at 22 – right before our next pick.
What I believe happened next was a mad scramble at Browns HQ. Every team, as far as I have ever heard anyone talk about the draft, has a plan set to execute. They know which guys they want (or are targeting), their value to the organization, where they should be taken, and when the team wants to take them. There is never a situation a team isn’t ready for.
Apparently, the Browns were not prepared to handle their WR being taken from them at this time. I watched in horror as the cameras flipped to Brandon Weeden receiving the call from the Browns. I thought, “No.” Apparently it was yes. At the time, I liked Russell Wilson. So what if he was 5’11”, he was smart and could play the position. He had a strong arm, and could move, something you need to be able to do with the Browns at this time to be successful. He also wasn’t 29. Russell Wilson was taken in the third round, when we took John Hughes, an unknown. Though I like that pick now, at the time I hated that we passed on Russell Wilson.
The Cavs missed making the playoffs; LeBron and the Heat won their first NBA title with the big 3. Then, as it happens with the NBA more than any other league in the country, a massive firestorm of perspectiveless rationalization and history settling arguments were made regarding LeBron’s legacy. He’s 27 (or 28, whatever). He has to win at least 7 championships in Miami to even begin to talk about his “legacy.” NBA: where “overreaction” and “preposterous” happens (apparently “history” does not). I wrote about this before already
The Indians are still in second place until August. Only two months to go. Only a couple games back. Then the wheels fall off the wagon completely. Historically, the worst month the Indians may have ever had. It was like watching the second half of a Browns game where we had the lead going into the half. “At least” I thought, at the time, “Pronk’s contract will be coming off our books, and we won’t be saddled with a ridiculous contact due to a player who never deserved it to begin with.”
(Full disclosure: I thought the Hafner contract, at the time when he signed it, was great. He was hitting .385 at that point of the year! In April…in 2008…)
Indians didn’t make the playoffs, but at least the Tigers got crushed in the World Series. I didn’t care who did it, but I’m happy they lost. Another quick side note: right now, I think the Giants are poised to win at least two more World Series in the next three years, and we’re going to run into them at least one of those times. There I go with my predictions again.
We took a big, strong, unknown (to me) rookie in the supplemental NFL draft by the name of Josh Morgan out of Baylor. At the time, I was hoping he’d be like a Brandon Marshall or a Terrell Owens, only without all the distractions.
Brandon Weeden gets run over by the American flag.
We all knew, at that moment, how truly bad he would be. And no, I give him no reprieve for being a rookie. We drafted him (AT 29 – NO, 30) to be our quarterback now
. There’s no reason to draft a player that old for anything else. AND it doesn’t matter if he’s technically a “rookie” either: he’s 30. The body will still break down in the same fashion at that age for everyone. He’s not Jim Plunkett or George Blanda; this isn’t 1971.
Trent Richardson becomes the victim of another terrible offensive scheme in Cleveland. Of all the coaches the Cleveland Browns have had this past decade, Pat Shurmur is, by far, the worst. I include Romeo Crennel in that list, and I know what he’s doing in Kansas City right now.
I am shocked by the amount of money professional athletes get for playing professional sports, but I am not angered by it. It’s more of a feeling of awe, and I am happier the men who are actually doing the work we all are so entertained by are getting paid the way they are. The only alternative would be for the owners to pocket all the profits we are shelling out for them, like in the prehistoric times for all of our professional sports. Players get paid a lot, but it’s fair with regards to the market and the profession they are in, even though I understand how it’s hard to sometimes comprehend that when a baseball player can get paid $150 million to pitch a baseball “real good.” I have never been against any person in professional sports who does their job making the money they do – until Pat Shurmur came along.
Every time the camera cuts to him on the sideline, I get unnecessarily angry. If there was anyone in any line of work who did their job as poorly and incompetently as him, they would be fired immediately. They would have their 30-day grace period, and the boss would take them aside on the 31st day, and give them the obligatory, kindly “We’re sorry, but you’re not picking this up as quickly as we would’ve hoped” speech and be sent out the door. It makes me sick to think he’s making as many millions of dollars as he does to go out every Sunday and make such an embarrassment out of the city of Cleveland. I know, thankfully, he will most likely be fired after Sunday, but I was hoping Mr. Haslem would have, at some point in the past three weeks when Pat did something particularly stupid…
(like challenging a ball spotting on a third and inches call when there’s only a minute left in the 2nd quarter, allowing the other team to stop and collect itself while our team loses one of our challenges we might’ve really needed later in the game, and actually assisting the other team in their drive and allowing them to score before the half…there are many, many other examples, but I digress)
…go and fire Pat Shurmur on the spot. Literally take the headset off his head, look in his lifeless eyes – his doll’s eyes – and tell him to go home and never come back. There are times when I watched games this year and had to leave the room I was watching it in. I wasn’t even nitpicking: there was something about nearly every play I saw this year that made me honestly question how Pat Shurmur was a coach. And how Brandon Weeden ever thought he was going to be a quarterback in the NFL. This is exactly the reason why I was so happy I didn’t have to watch the Browns the year before.
On a brighter note, the defensive line (especially the interior) looked better. And we need just a little bit more in the linebacker department. Our tackles and center are solid. Our running back will be great, and our wide receivers have been growing greatly (especially Josh Morgan).
We do need some guards though. And some pass-rushing. We need to get rid of everyone in the secondary except Joe and T.J. Buster Skrine is just…awful. Sheldon Brown should not be a cornerback in the NFL right now. He could be a great safety.
We also need A QUARTERBACK. AND A COACH. But that’s all.
The Indians…well…our offense needed some serious help, of course, but there is no one who can convince me why we gave that albatross of a contact to Nick “Playoff Killer
” Swisher. Compare Nick Swisher
to Victor Martinez
, and then try to explain to me why we couldn’t pay a superior player in Victor – A PLAYER WHO WAS HONESTLY GREAT IN THE LOCKER ROOM AND WANTED TO STAY IN CLEVELAND – 4 years, $52 million, and chose to now sign Nick Swisher to a 4 year, $56 million deal. Yes, I know, Victor was in his 30’s and didn’t play a premium position like Nick Swisher does.
(In that last line I employed sarcasm – with a touch of irony – to get my point across.)
At least we got Justin Masterson in the deal right? Am I being kind of sarcastic here too? Kinda. We’re also going to probably trade Asdrubal and Chris Perez away. That’s ok: we’ll just sign Derek Jeter three years from now to a 4 year, $60 million deal. I do believe Chris Perez’s next year will look a lot like Joe Borowski, so hopefully we do move him because that’s a scary thought.
At least Terry Francona’s our manager? I think he’s at least an upgrade over Manny Acta, but that’s turning out to be “not saying much.”
Oh, and the Cavs are currently 7-23. Kyrie Irving broke his hand this year- twice.
Hopefully Trent Richardson doesn’t injure himself as he’s being thrown to the lions (a.k.a. being forced to run into a pile of large linemen with no blocking scheme by a coach who should be banned by the NFL) against the Steelers this week, and Thad Lewis doesn’t play well enough for everyone to go crazy thinking about him being the savior of the Browns.
Next year, I’m looking forward to seeing Nick Saban lead the Browns to a 7-9 record, Terry Francona leading a decimated Indians team to a 70-win season (or a WS loss to the Giants), and Byron Scott being fired after another disappointing season with the Cavs, and a setback for Kyrie’s development that doesn’t involve multiple identical freak injuries.
I’m hoping for the toilet to not be backed-up again too.