Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Saturday, October 27, 2007


It has been a long week. I couldn't watch ESPN or read most of the sports page. I avoided my local watering hole because I didn't want to talk about sports.

Last night I turned on the Cavs game and I lasted about thirty seconds. I had no interest. During the hat-gate, I kind of took a pass on the created controversy. But the truth is we have all grown up with those guys that wear Yankee hats, Bulls hats and Cowboy hats. Never liked any of them. The fact LeBron knew he was so teflon that he could rub it in the face of the hometown crowd-- made it worse. He can wear what he wants and he can cheer for who he wants but I don't have to like it. For me when he put on the Indians hat in China that made it worse. I would have respected him more if he had kept the Yankees hat on. At the time, I was hoping the Indians would have won the World Series so I would never have to watch a Cavs game ever again.

Maybe it will change by Halloween but I am not sure I want to make an investment in the Cavs this season. Without Sasha or Andy, they will not be fun to watch. The early season schedule also has done them no favors. Maybe time will heal all wounds and I will be able to jump on the bandwagon later.

I am hoping to break out of my sports malaise on Sunday. This is the most important game in Romeo's tenure of the Browns. And you can make the argument, it is the second biggest game (playoff game being the other) since the new Browns were born. They are playing a winless team on the road. It is a game that they have to win. It is also a game that the Browns of recent history would lose. This game is the fork in the road. Are the Browns really in the right direction? This game will answer that question. A win and hope springs eternal. A loss and nothing has changed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Anyone who thinks Joel Skinner should be fired is completely insane. It turned out that it ended up being the wrong call but he was absolutely correct. Manny had already thrown out more than one Indians runner in this series. That ball bounced hard off the wall and Skinner had a millisecond to decide what to do. Kenny did not have the best jump and there was only one out. It was a one run game and Skinner did not have to take that chance. Put it on Blake for hitting into a double play but Skinner did his job and he did it the way he should have.

This was not the stop sign and this was not the choke. The Indians got beat by a better team. They stole game two on the road and basically won game three because the Red Sox's pitcher made two mistakes while Westbrook only made one. The difference between this loss and the rest of the lexicon is that this was a slow burn of the better team rising to the top. Most of the worst losses in Cleveland sports history came when Cleveland had the better team or just burned in the final seconds.

This loss hurts sure and it was not fun. But Boston is the best team in baseball. The pitcher who started game seven for them cost almost double the Indians entire payroll. The fact the Indians were only one game away from pulling it off makes it harder to swallow but the truth is Boston was better.

The Indians played 173 games this season. I would guess that I watched 161 of them either in person or on TV. The rest I either listened to on the radio while traveling or followed on my phone frantically waiting for my phone to update. When you put that much investment into something and then it just ends. It stings. And I was never on the field battling. But still I feel insulted when other "fans" take shots at a class act like Joel Skinner. It is like they missed everything that this team is about. I could not watch game seven at a bar for this exact reason. All of the new fans constantly questioning everything and flashing mock drunken anger on every little play.

For me and those that watched nearly every moment of every game, just because we don't paint our faces for the playoffs, because we don't wave towels, because we acknowledge that Manny is the best two strikes hitter of our generation, because we won't yell the other team sucks, because we want to watch the game and not just soak up the atmosphere, because we knew it wasn't over until it was over-- that doesn't make us less. The best fans are not the Wahoos but those fans in the nursing homes that still keep their own book for every game. It is not how loud you yell but how much emotionally tests you.

I know that what I do is not healthy investing so much in something that I have in all reality nothing to do with. But when that championship finally comes -- it won't be the same to me if I never watched most of the games. I like many feel like I know this team. We know the nuisances and we feel the pain. That hollow feeling and the emotion of not wanting to go through it again. Maybe it will pass. Maybe we will be able to watch the Cavs but right now I don't feel like it. Maybe by March, I will be able to move on with my life and leave baseball behind. Or maybe everything will start all over again.

At least it rained last night and then this morning. If it stayed sunny then I would not have known what to do with myself.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another painful loss but where does it rank?

The Indians up three games to one and just one game away from the World Series got outscored 30-5 to lose the series to the Red Sox.

Heartbreakingly sad and yet it barely squeezes (if at all) into my top ten of all-time Cleveland Sports disappointments. Maybe this is worse than the 1999 ALDS loss to the Red Sox because the World Series was so close but I could argue that 1999 worse. The Indians were up 2 games to none and in game three Dave Burba had given up just one hit in four innings before he was injured. Hargrove went with his game four starter Jaret Wright who promptly gave up five runs out of the bullpen. Those were just the first five of what turned out to be 43 more from that point on as the Red Sox over whelmed the Tribe. While it was only the first round, Hargrove mishandling of his pitching staff gave the ego manic John Hart the ammo he needed to fire him. On came Charlie Manuel and the beginning of the end of an era. I argue that if Hargrove saves Wright to pitch game four and a fully rested Bartolo Colon waiting in game five. The Indians win that series and Hargrove could have been in Bobby Cox situation as manager and maybe still be here today.

9. Sweet Sixteen: In 1986, the Cleveland State Vikings shocked the rest of the college sports world by upsetting Indiana and St. Joseph in the NCAA tournament. The Vikings got jobbed however against David Robinson and Navy. Last March Sportstime Ohio showed the game on TV and even though I knew the ending, I still thought they were going to win. The tape showed my memory was pure. Two calls went against the Vikes and it ended the only bright moment in the history of Cleveland D-I college sports.

8. Red Right 88: You would think this would be higher. I lost my sports innocence in that game in 1981. All they needed was a field goal and yet Sipe threw into the end zone. At that time, I just assumed a Super Bowl victory and a happy ending would happen.

7. Game four ALDS 1996: This may surprise a lot of people with short memories. The 1996 team may have been the best and most complete Indians of that era. The Tribe lost the first two in Baltimore before coming home for what should have been the last three. They won game three and had a 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth. With two and two out, Mesa gave up game tying single to Roberto Alomar, who should have been suspended for spitting on an umpire. In the bottom of the ninth, the Indians had a runner on second with one out and could not score. They had a man on second in the tenth as well and didn't score. Alomar then homered in the 12th to prematurely end the season.

6. The Shot: For most of the 1988-1989 season, the Cavs were the best team in the NBA until Bad Boy Rick Mahorn took a cheap shot on Mark Price. The Cavs lost the division to the Pistons and despite the second best record had to take the third seed and the Bulls. Jordan started his legend with that play. But at the time, it was a major upset. And it hurt.

5. Choking in Pittspuke: The 2003 Wildcard playoff game. Honestly this hurt a lot more than many on the list above it. Losing to the most hated rival three times in one season is painful enough but to blow a 17 point lead late was unbearable. The Browns had this game won and just let it slip away.

4. The 1989 AFC season championship game. Losing to the Broncos for the third time in four years was not fun. The final score of 37-21 betrays the real game. The Browns got beat up for most of the first half. Bernie Kosar led a third quarter comeback to get the Browns back in the game before the Broncos pulled away.

3. The Fumble. I will never forget celebrating on that fateful play. I saw Byner enter the end zone and thought we had tied the game. I was wondering why he did not seem as happy as I was. I never saw the ball pop out. The Zapruder film later of Webster Slaughter not even pretending to run his route and allow Castillo to leave him and go straight for Byner only added to the misery. Before that moment, that comeback may have been the most excited I have been in my life.

2. The Drive. Can you believe there is something worse than this? A seven point lead with the ball on the two yard line with time running out. It seems every time I turn on ESPN Classic this game is waiting for me. And to my death bed, you will never convince me that Karlis' field goal in the overtime was good. It was wide but those damn refs were cold.

1. Game seven 1997 World Series. I still can't talk about this game.

Game seven

I don't like to watch Browns games around other people. Each regular season game means so much that at times I get tightly wound. My pet peeves are that guy at the bar who needs to swear as loudly as possible. And the Browns often cause me to swear so I stay home.

This playoff season I have stayed home for just two games and both times the Tribe got shellacked. But tonight I will not be going out for the game. While I am trying to not like sports affect my personal life so much, I am not strong enough to test that in public. I have written before about how much the band wagon drives me nuts. There was the guy during the Yankee series screaming "He is on my shirt" when Kenny Lofton had a big hit except he was wearing a 1997 World Series shirt. There are the fans upset the other team gets a few hits never mind that our opponents have the best two line-ups money can buy. The constant questioning of Eric Wedge by people who have never played the game let alone watched this team play at all during the season.

Watching on TV is almost as bad, FOX's market research must tell them that most people who watch playoff baseball don't watch regular season baseball-- I have no other explanation for Tim McCarver's continued job status. So I am considering tonight locking myself in room alone with the lights off where I can close my eyes and just listen to Tom Hamilton.

I don't know if that will be enough but we will see.