Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Now snob isn't a word I would use to describe myself, but I guess who in their right mind would? Elitist has even worse connotations to me. I certainly don't consider myself better or superior than other people.

Yet I am finding harder and harder to sit in a room and listen to other people talk sports. I read sports forums out of boredom and learned a long time ago not to respond to idiotic responses or takes. Jim Rome has helped ruin sports. People can't discuss sports anymore. Everyone has to have a take and bring it hard. Around the Horn is speeding up the demise. There are idiots out there that think that show is news and Gospel. This attitude has creeped down to local hosts so where guys that seemed normal like Michael Reghi now just scream into mike. I can turn off the TV, the Internet and the radio. But unless I hide in my cave, it is hard to turn off loud people in public.

Thursday my power went out. It was too dark to read so I ventured out into the world. The first bar had a guy who bet a week's pay that in the Cavs first 15 games next season, Z would start more games then Shaq because "We wouldn't do that to Z."

Now that guy was mostly harmless. I could deal with that guy. But the crowd in my regular bar wasn't the regular crowd. I could take only so many Michael Jackson jokes* and talk of the Big Walleye coming off the bench.

*With my Internet out, I got a text that said "Mike Jackson died." Instantly I was crushed thinking that the former Indians relief pitcher died. I really liked that guy so I wrote back, "The relief pitcher?" And was promptly called an idiot and told that it was Michael Jackson who died. And my next thought was the Browns receiver? Seriously it never occurred to me to consider the singer.

So I moved to another bar. I sat in the middle. To my right where two older gentlemen watching the final innings of the Tribe game. To my left and down a couple of seats were four younger guys who obviously couldn't hold their liquor. They were also watching the game but also were talking about the draft.

Now the sound was off but so was the jukebox. There was no hiding from their conversation. Or to be more accurate - a series of shrieking yells.

I will spare you the details. But after a half hour of nonsense and whining. The Indians lost the game. And the reason the Indians lost the game was clearly Eric Wedge's fault. See after the Pirates stole third, Wedge had to walk the batter. HE HAD TO LOADED THE BASES FOR THE FORCE.

This one guy started screaming that Wedge had to be fired on the spot. Everyone knows you walk the hitter to load the bases with one out so you can get a force.

I should have stayed out of it. I had nothing to gain. But he was so loud and he was saying this after the fact. He didn't say it right when the steal happened. And his buddies were just slurping it up. And did I mention he was so loud. In a bar with just seven guys and a bartender. It should not be that loud.

So I said, "Sir do you know what the count was?"
And he said, "What?"
"Do you know what the count was?"
And his friend said it was "1-2"
"You wanted to intentionally walk a guy you were ahead in the count of."
"No I wanted to walk him before the first pitch?"
"When their were runners on just second and first."
"No they stole third?"
"In the middle of the at bat."

Now my logic wasn't completely sound. And I don't even know it was 1-2 or 1-1. But I spoke calmly and it was enough to shut up them for a little while. And the old guy sitting next me nodded thanks and we started discussing sports. It was calm. It was friendly. It was nice. We talked about how Shaq would fit in. We talked about how the kid from Italy was really from Compton. We talked about Minnesota drafting every point guard they could find.

Meanwhile the guys on the other end were rallying. They were screaming about how the Cavs had to draft one of the Pitt guys. Notice they didn't say which one. They had no clues what their names were. But Jay Bilas or someone said they were good so they had to be the pick. The older guy asked me who I wanted and I told him, "Honestly I think Danny Ferry has researched this more than me. I will trust him."

And when the pick was announced as Christian Eyenga from the Congo, the guys at the other end of the bar, just like all the callers on the radio and all the posters on the Internet went nuts. Ferry is an idiot. Ferry should be fired. Every Cleveland GM and Coach sucks.

Seriously. Ferry trades for Shaq in the morning without giving up anything useful and now he is an idiot who needs to be fired. What because you have heard of these other guys they must be better? It is like the NFL draft and the fans wanting Rey Maualuga. Not only did the Browns trade down time after time but every other team passed on him too. And who took him the Bengals which would be the one team these same fans would claim are dumber than the Browns.

Whoever the Cavs took at 30 wasn't getting major minutes this season. And whatever minutes he got would be gone in the playoffs. Just look at our two rookie posts from this past season. Eyenga may never play but I like the risk. Why waste a pick on the bench when the plan is to sign veteran help to boost the bench. Ferry now has several guys stashed in Europe and if one of them turns into a player, it will look genius. Ferry was with the Spurs and no one has been better at getting foreign players. I will trust him.

I hear people talk about slots. How you can't take a 60 rated guy in the 30th spot. Why not? You know your needs. Why take the 30th ranked guy by ESPN when you have found a guy you like and think will work. If it doesn't work you will get fired but you are going to get fired some day anyway. You might as well trust your gut instead of the crowd. Plus if these draft experts were that smart, they would be GMs and not draft experts.

Tonight the Indians traded Mark DeRosa. The uninformed saw we got a relief pitcher with a high ERA. Oh the naughty words they sprayed over the web. F Dolan. F Shapiro. F Wedge. F Cleveland.

I know this town loves guys that are traded. In April, they were going nuts about sending three pitching prospects for a guy (DeRosa) who can't hit or field. Now they are moaning about trading one of our only good hitters who can play anywhere in the field. All these people who wrote off the Indians last week are now complaining we are waving the white flag.

Um Shapiro just turned around a guy, who is a free agent after the season and was had for minor prospects, for a live arm that at the start of season was the Cards third rated prospect and possible closer in waiting plus another player to be named later that Shapiro said was a significant part of the deal.

Does the trade make the last place Indians worse right now? Yes but it makes great sense for the future. And you may not have heard but there will be a next year.

Not everything Ferry or Shapiro have done has worked. You can question a lot of their moves. But you can't argue that they don't work their asses off. Ferry blew up his team two years ago and it made the Cavs real contenders. He saw it wasn't working and tried something else. Shaq may not work but Ferry is doing what ever he can. It is harder to believe in Shapiro. But I have agreed with most of his moves. They haven't worked. I don't know why Sizemore hasn't become a super star. I don't know why Peralta forgets how to hit sometimes. I don't know why every relief pitcher he signs starting walking everyone and every veteran bat he signs stops hitting. It is getting harder to blame that all on bad luck. But Shapiro has made some great trades. I trust him on trades.

I don't know why I bothered to write all this. Why I continue to post. But it has to be healthier than going to a bar where people don't know you and screaming YOU SUCK at the TV.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shaq comes to Cleveland

Processing this Shaq deal has been tough. I have lots of mixed emotions. But I guess it boils down to this: Danny Ferry just got a Hall of Fame center for nothing.

We can talk about everything else later. But today the Cavs got a big man who can bang for Ben Wallace - who is retiring, Sasha - who the Suns cut and a second round pick that wasn't going to get in the rotation any way.

Now I know the first thought is too little too late. If only the Cavs had made this trade in February, we might be hoisting a banner. Maybe but that deal would have cost a lot more. Yes the Cavs may have over estimated family values back in February but Ferry learned a valuable lesson. Today he upgraded his roster and he did it without sacrificing any talent.

I understand Shaq is no longer the player he was but if LeBron can make Andy Varejao look good what will he do for Shaq. LeBron will find the Big Man the ball. This move also helps Z. Both Shaq and Z can play less minutes in the regular season saving their old bones for the playoffs.

This move does other thing as well. The Cavs tried the "we are family approach" last year. We heard how much everyone loved each but the truth was they didn't get it done. I expect a more mercenary approach this season. Rasheed Wallace, a man Cavs fans love to hate, will be the next big name to join the Wine and Gold. This team next season will not feel like a Cleveland team. It has been weird enough to have one superstar like LeBron, next season I expect will be like a year long Rock tour. There will be bright lights non stop. Having Shaq around I think will also help with the New York media spreading the LeBron is leaving rumors. Shaq will lighten the mood. This past season the Cavs never felt pressure until Orlando. It was a feel good story that hit a brick wall. Next season the pressure will be overwhelming from game one. The just one goal motto has real meaning now. Come next spring, I expect the Cavs to be a completely different team mentally.

Whether LeBron stays or goes, no one in Cleveland can control that. Danny Ferry is at least being pro-active. He is not standing pat. He is not going to just give it the old college try. He is showing LeBron I will do whatever I can go to give you the pieces to win. Shaq is here for one year. He is here to one-up Kobe, get one more ring and ride out into the sunset. After next season, if LeBron stays. Shaq's expiring contract can be turned into another big man in free agency.

But we have months to mash this all out. Bottom line is Danny Ferry got Shaq for nothing. That can't be bad.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why I will never listen to Bob Frantz again

So this post is something completely different than it was supposed to be. It is late and I am sure I have more mistakes than usual in this post. I took a road trip with my father today. We drove to Pittsburgh and got there before the gates opened. We enjoyed the waterfront, we enjoyed batting practice, we even enjoyed the people who sat around us. We sat three rows from the field in the left field bleachers. It was almost a perfect day.

Then the ninth inning happened. I cannot and will not describe what happened. You can find that elsewhere. The important part is the ninth started with the Indians ahead 5-0. One Pirate fan all game kept telling everyone who would listen, "No worries. The Indians have to pitch in the ninth. Everything will be alright." He started saying this in the third inning.

Fast forward to its 5-4, the bases are loaded and it is a full count. I have to fast forward there because I was this close to falling into the fetal position and checking out mentally. This was the quietest crowd I had ever seen. Even as the ninth progressed. They never got that excited. I knew what was happening and they didn't seem to figure it out until the near end. They didn't even stand up until the bases were loaded. But those moments were almost too much for me. I thought this is what hell has to feel like. I wanted to be anywhere else. I was dreading the walk to the car. I was in that city at Peter's Pub when the Browns choked away the game in 2007 and that walk through those people for several blocks was the longest of my life.

But the Pirate batter who had earlier in the inning dumped one in the river popped up and the Indians won. Even when we win it feels like a loss.

So we get in the truck and head for home. I turn on WTAM. Now I have for the most part stopped listening to sports talk radio. It is too frustrating to me. I don't really care for any of the hosts or just about any of the callers. Now I used to listen to Extra Innings. I didn't always agree with Kevin Keane but I could accept him. Now every time I have ever heard Bob Frantz whether it be in the mid mornings or for Browns pregame or the handful times on Extra Innings, I didn't really care for him. He seems like a guy who knows a little about a lot of things, maybe just enough to be dangerous. But he doesn't seem like he knows a lot about any one thing. Now while I didn't always line up with Keane, he seemed to be to be a guy who couldn't believe he was being paid to talk about sports while Frantz is a guy who is paid to talk about sports. The difference to me is huge. It is why I love Tom Hamilton --mistakes and all-- and despise Joe Buck. Whether Tommy is talking Tribe or calling Big Ten basketball -- he is loving it. The man likes sports. Joe Buck was born into a family business. He doesn't even like sports that much. His call of the David Tyree Super Bowl catch is the perfect example. Could you imagine if Hamilton got to make that call? I don't know how many times at a game when something cool happens my brother has said to me "Tommy is going nuts right now."

So Frantz is not someone I listen to a lot. But there I was trapped in traffic trying to get out of enemy territory. And he starts using Hamilton's words out of content. Frantz wants to blame Eric Wedge. I don't agree but hey he gets paid to have an opinion. He rants and raves about Huff not pitching the ninth. Personally I was surprised Wedge sent Huff out for the eighth. Huff was already over 100 pitches after seven. And with the way our organization and 28 others are now babying pitchers especially rookie pitchers -- I said to my dad, "This is a guy managing for his job." I knew there was no way Huff would pitch the ninth. Now I know that pisses Bob Feller off but the game has changed. That was organizational policy -- it may be bullshit -- but it is the way things go now. If Wedge had sent Huff out you know the Internet would attack him. How dare you test a rookie arm for the sake of your job? To me Wedge sending Huff out for the eighth was a huge sign of his distrust in the bullpen. And I would bet if the lead was 2-0, Wedge may have said screw it and sent the kid out there. But up 5-0 despite the hellish season our pen has had, you have to trust them. It is their job. And when Herges failed, Wedge had to send in Wood. That is Wood's job. He gets paid a lot of money. He has pitched awful but you have to hand your closer the ball. While everyone else has given up on this team, Wedge has to believe. He has to send out guys to do their jobs until they pry the job from his cold dead hands. Wedge is a baseball guy. He may not be a good manager. But even with everything failing around him, he has to believe in what he believes in. You can't change styles or your rules to pacify an angry mob. If you listen to sports columnists, bloggers or radio show hosts you are going to get fired anyway. You might as well stick to your guns and get fired doing what you believe in.

Now I raised my eyebrows when Frantz went off how I couldn't believe his eyes when Herges walked out. Oh Frantz was foaming at the mouth. Now Frantz gets paid to talk about the game afterwards. Did he not notice we pinched hit for Huff in the top of the inning? So he was either taking creative license just to make a point or he wasn't paying attention. Neither is good. Anyway Frantz went on and on. For him keeping in Huff was a no brainer. For me Wedge did what any other manager in 2009 would have done. This is not the 70s.

But then Frantz crossed a line. He said he screamed himself hoarse cheering for the Pirates because the Indians did not deserve to win the game.

Now I understand getting mad. I understand turning off games and not watching anymore. I can accept someone saying I am not spending my money or my time on this team anymore. But never once has it occurred to me to cheer against a Cleveland team. You want to give up? You want to move on? OK, fine. But to turn on them because you didn't like a move? To openly root for Pittsburgh. No that is not OK.

I waited a moment for him to calm down. But he repeated it. He screamed until he was hoarse wanting us to lose. And I clicked off the radio.

Bob Frantz is done for me. Anytime I turn on WTAM and I hear his voice I will turn off the station. I am not saying this in anger. I am not saying this as a threat. Bob Frantz is not someone I want to know. Whether he was saying it because he thought it made good radio or he said it because he lacks character or he even thinks he is right, it doesn't really matter to me. Whether I agreed with Keane or not, I knew he was a fan. I believed Keane's passion. I think Frantz is full of crap. You don't have to be sports fan to work in sports radio. I get that. Frantz has the right to have any job he can get. If WTAM wants to hire him for Extra Innings may they do so forever. I won't protest. I won't tell others not to listen. But when I hear his voice, I will turn off the radio. Bob Frantz is allowed to have an opinion but I don't want to hear it. What he thinks is meaningless to me.

When the Indians game is over, for me personally, I want a Cleveland guy on the air. I don't have to agree with him. I don't even have to like him. But I want a Cleveland guy. A Cleveland guy might get pissed, he might want to fire everyone, he may threaten to quit watching. But a Cleveland guy never ever screams himself hoarse hoping a Cleveland team loses to a team from Pittsburgh. EVER.

You don't get a second chance for that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Go Tribe!

The Tribe has lost six in a row. Message boards are overflowing with calls for the heads of Eric Wedge and Mark Shapiro. The bandwagon is nearly empty. The season has been declared lost. And it seems like anyone with Internet connection has declared themselves done with the team until the manager is fired, the general manager is fired or the owners sell the team.

And yet at as 7 p.m. rolled around I found myself missing the fact there was no game. There is something about baseball that the other sports miss. There are only 16 Browns games. So each contest is the end all be all. You get full of passion and find yourself ready to hit something. After each game you find yourself exhausted filled with either anger or joy depending on how the game ended. For the Cavs you never know when they are going to play. The schedule makes no sense. There is no rhyme or reason. There is no flow. And the whole regular season is nothing but one long rehearsal. Eight teams in each conference get in and then play those long series that make the regular season almost irrelevant.

But baseball is almost every day. Yesterday is forgotten quickly as momentum is today's starting pitcher. I won't say that I accept losing but over the years I have had a lot of practice at it. Losing doesn't bother me as much in baseball than in the other sports. Football really sucks when your team sucks. The last half of the Browns season last year was torture. And regular season NBA can be a joke. Teams mail it in all the team. But since baseball can be such an individual sport, each game starts fresh and anything can happen. Maybe today there will be no-hitter, a triple play or a straight steal of home. Even at their worst the Indians still won 57 games and usually at least twenty more.

The Indians had three winning records during my childhood. They were 81-78 when I was three, 81-80 when I was six and 84-78 in that magical summer was I was 13 before I believed in curses. But I loved them. I loved listening to Herb Score on the radio and Joe Tait or Jack Corrigan on TV. When I got to go to a game I loved how green the grass was and the sounds of the wooden chairs I got to bang when there was rally. I love the sound of the ball hitting the bat and the thrill that a foul ball might come my way. I like to cheer the good guys and boo the bad guys. Whether I am drawing out Juuuuuuuuuuuuuulioooooooo or Choooooooooooooooo, I smile every time.

Sure I want to shoot the bullpen. I want strangle Garko or Peralta when they do something dumb. I get irritated by the stupidness of a grown man in a Ketchup costume or clueless fans that never shut up during a game. I want to win, believe me I want to win so bad that I get tears every time I watch the end of Major League.

But I love baseball. And I like watching it every day even if I know mostly likely at the end they are going to frustrate the hell out of me. Maybe these feelings are drawn out by the anger out pouring from all corners this week from all the people that jumped back on board after Lee's almost no-hitter. I have an everyday relationship with this team. I get you don't. I understand you are mad. I feel a little mad too.

So if you want to turn off the Tribe go ahead. If it ever gets better, I am sure you will be back. If you want to put Shapiro on your dart board in the privacy of your own home, go ahead. If you want to go to bars, get drunk and tell everyone how dumb Eric Wedge is after every play because you played the game and you know-- go ahead -- just stay at the other end away from me. But these gasps of organized revolt that want the fans to rise up and force to Dolans to act or sell because the people of Cleveland deserve better, just go away. Concentrate on taking care of your family. Put your energy into saving your neighborhood.

It is a game and a distraction. And I wish there was one on right now.