Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Motown Madness

October 18th now hurts even more.

There are no guarantees in sports. Just because you are almost on verge of winning a championship doesn't mean the next year you will. When the Indians came up just short of the playoffs in 2005, many assumed 2006 would be their year instead the season was over before the All Star break.The Indians had a golden opportunity on October 18th and let it slip through their fingers.

Wait til next year seemed to have real meaning.But the White Sox, Tigers and even Royals spent the next few weeks improving their teams. Even the Twins while losing one star and preparing for life without another-- made a few trades to improve their lineup. And you knew winning the Central was going to be a tougher task let alone dealing with Santana bolstering the front of the Red Sox or Yankee rotation.And then Tigers empty their farm system and jack their payroll to go out and get Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Some hometowners are already spinning this as it isn't as bad as it looks. Sure injuries can decimate a club and you never know but the Tigers scored the most runs in the AL last year and now they have Cabrera and Indian killer Edgar Renteria in the lineup. And while Willis hasn't put up number one stuff-- he won't be the number one guy in Detroit and he will eat up wins. It takes lefties longer to become dominant starters-- look how long it took Sabathia and eve Randy Johnson. Willis is only 25 years old. He is going to look could in a Tiger uniform.

Did the Tigers empty the piggy bank to get these guys? Hell yes but now that clubhouse knows management will do whatever it takes. Screw small market economics. Detroit is built to win now. Good look getting tickets in Motown now.

I don't want to hear any whining from Cleveland management or media why the Stadium-- because it won't be the Jake for much longer- doesn't fill up. I know Shapiro is doing this the right way because I know he wants to compete on a yearly basis. I say forget that. Win once. The place will sell out for the next three years regardless. And believe this-- the big market teams are figuring out this farm system and prospects stuff. The window for anyone ever winning outside of 200 million payrolls is closing fast. The world may not end in 2012 but small markets even getting a sniff in baseball will.The Indians blew their best chance to win a title. And they may not get another one. No matter if they build it right and play it right.

Sideshow Bob ready to resurface

Well the silliest holdout in the history of sports is about to end. Many sources including ESPN are reporting that the Charlotte Bobcats have signed Anderson Varejao to an offer sheet of 3 years and $17.4 million dollars. It is the Bobcats mid-level exemption.

What does that mean?

Basically it is about saving face. The Bobcats need a front line player as injuries as decimated them of bigs. This allowed the Bobcats fans to think the front office is trying to fix the problem. And it allows Varejao's agent Dan Fegan a way of ending this holdout without having to bend over for Danny Ferry. The Cavs will match the offer sheet and Sideshow Bob will make his way back to Cleveland just one week after publicly saying he didn't want to play here anymore.

There is a reported opt-out clause in the contract so Anderson can become a restricted free agent sooner rather than later. If he turns out to be who his agent has convinced him is-- it will allow him a huge contract in either one year or two depending on reports. Mostly likely two years would be the best guess.

The real story behind this mess is that agents want to change the system. While some players make still huge amounts of money because some owners are stupid-- the league has set up some rules to help curb owners from really hurting themselves. That is why there is cap and all of these exceptions and rules when and where free agents are really free agents. And why teams can get a Larry Bird discount and the such. Fegan wanted superstar money based on his stats and the fact Varejao is really important to the Cavs future. But Danny Ferry after being burned in his first few months on the job by Hughes, Marshall, Jones among others- decided he needed to be more prudent. Fegan rolled the dice in the summer by reportedly turning down an offer sheet from Memphis figuring the Cavs had to cave. They didn't. Peer pressure helped- if the Cavs caved then the rest of the league was preparing for agents to do the same next summer. Fegan would become the agent of almost every contract year player and because the biggest tool of all the agents. But Ferry held.

Fegan used his relationship with Charlotte's Gm to sign the offer sheet- a sheet the Bobcats knew Cleveland would match to get his client on the floor somewhere.

You have heard of win-win. Well this holdout was lose-lose for everyone. Andy got less money. Fegan did not change the world and gain new clients. Cleveland lost a valuable player for the start of the season and it could be weeks before Andy is really ready to play.

I think his teammates will welcome Varejao without issue. They understand more than anyone this is a business and only really April, May and June count in the NBA. But it will be interesting to see how this affects Andy and the fans. He was the fan's favorite because of his hair, his charges and hustle all over the floor.

My guess most of the hate directed towards Andy for his comments is from the vocal few on the Internet and talk radio. Most of the bandwagon fans will hop back aboard as soon as he plays like he did before. Which leads to my other question-- can he play that way again? Reports say he is out of shape and has not worked out like he should. Sasha Pavlovic reportedly worked out twice a day and practiced with his hometown team during his holdout and he is just now starting to get into game shape. If Anderson tries to play like he did before he is in shape- he will get injured. And after last season's playoff run every coach on every team we play will be harping on officials that he is a flopper-- will he still get those calls.

We will have to wait and see. But at least the dumbest hold out in history is over.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ravens choke!

As much I want the Patriots lose, I have to admit it is fun watching Baltimore suffer. The city of Boston is quickly rising on my listed of most hated. Their sports fans are arrogant jerks and their head coach is the ultimate arrogant jerk. I don't care if he has become the best football coach who ever lived. I don't know if he has sold his soul but his dedication to the game has cost him his family. I don't know if that is worth it. And I will never forgive him for cutting Bernie Kosar when we were in first place and his backup was injured. I hope the urban legend is true that Bernie knocked him on his ass after that Denver game.

Still-- I can't forgive the city of the Baltimore. I never will. Someone stole their team so they stole ours. When the stadium gets nuked in Sum of All Fears I cheer every time. I hate crab cakes. I hate Cal Ripken Junior. And I certainly hate Brian Billick. It helps that the Ravens are punks. Going into the game they had lost five in row and yet they were still talking trash and strutting around.

During the game my emotions fought each other. I would love to see the smugness of the Patriots knocked down a notch. But truthfully I felt if they lost this game they would certainly win the Super Bowl. My prayer is that the Pats go 16-0 and lose their opening playoff game- maybe even a horrible call or an injury so that the entire region has something to complain about once again. I liked them better when they were whiners.

So to have Baltimore lose when it looked like they won three times-- it was rather satisfying. And to have their beloved defense coordinator be the one to call the timeout while the players glared at Billick was great fun. And for the icing on the cake, the Ravens complete the hail mary and fall a yard short.

I hope the whole city is sick to its stomach.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Buckeyes needed the opponent had to be LSU

If you are a true Ohio State football fan and not just someone who screams I O at bars, then LSU is exactly the match-up that you wanted. And for many reasons.

The first and foremost is that black eye Florida gave the Buckeyes last year has not gone away. All season it has allowed Ohio State to be ridiculed. The SEC has absolutely no respect for Ohio State or for the Big Ten because of that embarrassment. It has allowed the SEC and its fan base and media slurpers to declare Ohio State would not even finish .500 in their conference. And Ohio State hasn't been able to say otherwise. (However I would like to see some of these SEC teams try to win in nasty Midwest weather-- those pretty quick slants aren't so easy to come by in sleet)

To win back respect, the opponent in the title game had to be from the SEC. A win over Oklahoma, Missouri or West Virginia would have done nothing to stop the stream of trash talk from the South. I know the SEC likes to think they have the best football and with the effort of the majority of the Big Ten it is hard to argue otherwise. Because of the Florida debacle-- you can't make the argument do they play defense down south. LSU is supposed to have this great defense. I haven't seen it. But maybe every offense down there is NFL ready as thier loyalist fans seem to believe.

Ohio State had to play an SEC team and I think they got the right one. The Tigers are going to have a home game by playing in the Sugar Dome in New Orleans. All the odds are stacked against the Buckeyes and that is how it should be. (Although I really wanted Miles to go to Michigan- if you have watched LSU play this year-- he lost two games and tried to lose two others-- otherwise his kids may have been undefeated) I figure the point spread will be pretty high. In fact I expect the buildup to the game will be the exact opposite of last year.

But do not kid yourself, this is the most important game in the history of the Big Ten. Bar none.

If Ohio State gets blown out-- it will be a long time before the conference ever gets respect again. Big Ten football has become a joking matter for the rest of the country and if Ohio State gets destroyed it will get the ultimate punchline.

Like the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, the Buckeyes will be heavy underdogs, I expect the talk leading up to the game will be if LSU wins a close game- should Georgia, Oklahoma or even Hawaii with a huge upset over Georgia (something I really want to see) should be the non-BCS share of the title.

Let everyone talk. But it is time for the Buckeyes to put up or shut up. For themselves and the reputation of an entire conference.

Bad call doesn't erase bad play

There is the simple answer and then the complex one.

It is easy to say the Browns got screwed because well they got hosed. The official on the goal line simply blew the call. Winslow was clearly forced out and the official was just looking at his feet and not the whole play. I wonder where the help was. I understand it was a hail mary type play-- but tell me there had to be another official behind the play or across the field that could have helped the guy out.

The Browns won the game on the last play and yet the standings will notch this up as a loss. A painful loss that now takes playoff control out of the hands of the Browns as the Titans won.

And yet... truthfully the Browns did not deserve to win this game. Anderson was horrid in the first quarter. Combined his miscues with Cribbs fumble-- and the Browns gift wrapped three touchdowns for the Cardinals. I understand that players have to block on kickoffs and punts but why would they ever block overly aggressively. Cribbs only needs a little help. On a fair catch- get the hell of out the way and quit blocking. And what the hell was Simon Fraser thinking? Dumb Dumb Dumb. And while the defense for the most part played well-- they got pushed around on the final drive until the final stand. Two more dumb penalties added to the anger on that drive.

Yes- Browns should have won the game on the final play but in the truth the game should have ended with Anderson taking a knee with his team comfortably ahead.

As much as I want to hang that official in effigy, the Browns lost this game. They were not as mature as I thought they were. This team took a huge step back. Lets hope they learn from it because if they play this way again-- the playoffs will stay a dream.