Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Sheer will is going to win this game" - Damon Jones

Last night, I was out celebrating the birthdays of two of my friends and my new job, which I will officially announce next week. We went to the Rush Inn and I strategically picked the seat where I could keep one eye on the Cavs game. But with only six healthy players remaining on the roster plus two 10-day contract D-League players, the expectation was of a loss. But I was curious.

By the time we headed to Sloane Pub to play a little shuffleboard, the basketball game was headed to halftime. I was impressed that the Cavs were hanging tough. But outside of LeBron James and Z, no one on the roster was used to playing major minutes. I was prepared for a fade.

As the clock ticked down, I started to get excited and spent more time watching the muted game than curling pucks. I said to my friend, “If they could pull this off, it would be one of those wins that take these guys and instantly make them one.”

That idea was supported by the celebration after the victory. For a dog-day February game, LeBron showed a lot of emotion. Damon Jones soaked in his moment of being the man and got on the scorers table and pointed to his new teammates watching in suits in the suite. Can you imagine what those four guys were thinking? Just two days ago they were all were mired on terrible teams with no real chance at the playoffs. Now they will be playing with the Chosen One. They have to be fired up. This is a chance to play deep into the playoffs. And with Joe Smith and Delonte West in contract years, playing James could provide a financial windfall. And how about those two D-Leaguers Billy Thomas and Kaniel Dickens- imagine going from long bus rides in basketball backwoods to playing alongside LeBron James- tell those two won't run through a wall if asked.

That game showed the heart of LeBron and his team. You never know anything in sports especially when you think you do. But that effort gives the hope of a beautiful May and June in Cleveland.

(Note: With the new job starting Monday, the next few weeks might be slow on this blog. But don’t fret, I will return soon)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Well how do you like them apples?

For all those people who insisted Danny Ferry was scared to pull the trigger, how about that? In one fell swoop, almost half of the Cavs roster is gone.

Our favorite punching bag Larry Hughes gone.
Drew Gooden with his long beard and laspes of focus gone.
Donyell Marshall with his bad knees and inconsistent shot gone.
Ira Newble - a true gentleman and great global citizen gone.
Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown no one will notice but gone.

Headed this way, Ben Freaking Wallace, Wally Szcerbiak, Joe Smith and Delonte West.

On paper, I can't see how this makes us worse. Anything we gave up we got in return. Our front line is stronger. Our outside shooting looks better. The mirage of Larry Hughes the last few weeks doesn't give me any pause of giving him up. We almost beat the Pistons in 2006 and we did beat them in 2007 and he had nothing to do with either. Say what you will about Wallace's drop in production but I love what he would bring in a playoff series. Sure his guy will be able to double team LeBron but for me the Cavs drop in defense this season has been troubling. A front line of Wallace, Z, Smith and Anderson Varejao is pretty formidable. Adding a shooter like Wally to go with Boobie and Damon Jones is also a big help for LeBron.

I have no idea if this lineup will gel in time for the Cavs to run the table in the East but I honestly like this trade more than if we would have picked up Bibby or Kidd.

I think the Cavs got tougher. And if three veteran players can't get motivate to play along LeBron James for a chance to compete for an NBA title, nothing will ever motivate anyone.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Quick thoughts

The spell check on blogger still seems on the fritz. The worst part is for some reason after I write and then remember the spell check doesn’t work, I can’t cut and paste my column into word, spell check it and paste it back.

As a result, my columns on Shaq, recruiting and NASCAR have all bit the dust. No big loss since I had nothing new to say about Shaq or Terrelle Pryor and my NASCAR column would have only interested me, and well I got to read it.

The truth is I don’t have much to say about anything in sports right now. March Madness and Major League baseball are still on the horizon. I have nothing to add on the steroid mess.

But here are some quick thoughts on C.C.:

Well, duh.

Of course a player and his agent are going to test the market. And Mark Shapiro has no choice but to keep Sabathia and ride out the season.

I can’t fathom an argument with either position. For the How Much Money Do You Need Crowd, Sabathia not only has an obligation to himself here but for his union. I know it is not popular to support millionaire athletes but he can’t in good faith just accept a below market deal a year before free agency. If his heart is truly in Cleveland, he can give out a discount at the end of the season when he will really find out the Indians final offer.

And for those who say trade him, I ask the question to whom and for what? Mark Shapiro has stated that he didn’t like the package the Twins got from the Mets. He would ask for much more. I think he would have been tempted by what Seattle gave up to Baltimore but how do you look your team in the eye and say “Go win the World Series but do it without your ace.”

And there lies the other part; say Shapiro was willing to deal- who are the suitors? Boston and the Yankees, hey lets deal our number one to the teams we are trying to beat.

Sure it seems likely C.C. is gone and it sucks he will leave for nothing, but Shapiro owes it to his players to try and win this year. Many in Cleveland have often said, “Let’s just win once.”

Well here it is. Shapiro is all in for this year. He is risking his Ace for a chance to win everything. And if C.C. leaves, it is not like the cupboard is bare.

The window to win is now. It won’t be easy but not trading C.C. is a motivation in that Indians clubhouse. The team knows management is risking a lot to win now. The pressure is on. And that is a good thing.