Cleveland Sports Insiders

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Deluded Ralph on Drafting For Need

There is one time of the year that, as a Browns fan, stands above all other times of the year. NFL draft time. Yes, the Draft is literally upon us. ‘Literally’ in the sense that I literally spilled a literal draft beer upon my own probably-literal self. Us, in the sense that my corporeal form is a somewhat voluntary host for the spirits of Gaius Julius Caesar (please don’t call him Caligula; it’s demeaning) and also Alexander the Great.

Like these two body invaders, I, as a Browns fan, greatly enjoy the NFL draft. There is no greater joy in this world – or any other world – than the prospect of dictating to 20-year-olds the course of the next three years of their life; if you were wondering, by the way, I do very much enjoy playing SimCity. I, Gaius Julius Caesar Alexander Magnus Ralph, shall build the world’s greatest SimCity empire, filled with prosperous high-density commercial zones, only to sneer at their lamentations when an earthquake rends earth from sky in the world they thought they had mastered. Hubris must be punished, vain Ralphopolis. I am your reckoning. Continue reading


Jim Thome Statue: An Exercise in Vain Continuity

When Constantius Chlorus, one of four co-ruling Roman Emperors in the 4th Century CE, took the throne, he took on an entirely new name: Flavius Aurelius Constantius, a name that hearkened to great emperors Marcus Aurelius and Flavius Vespasian. A low-born territorial soldier, Chlorus’s assertions of nobility comprised a façade both transparent and flimsy, yet to establish an ethos of enlightened rule, Chlorus required these connections to golden days of yore – connections he could not claim by birth – to ensure his legitimacy among the elité of Roman society.

For the Dolan family, the stakes are lower than mastery of the empire, but continuity is no less paramount to the organization’s legitimacy. Despite being currently employed by divisional rivals, former stars Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel were invited to the Indians 2014 Fan Fest, placing on full display the Indians’ paradoxical emphasis on continuity from the magical 1990s run. When they announced, therefore, that a statue of Jim Thome statue would be unveiled on August 2nd, it was simply an extension of that same logic. Continue reading


Asdrubal Cabrera and Inconsequential Bouncebacks

Presumably a Popular 'Pick 3' Combination After the Wild Card Game

Presumably a Popular ‘Pick 3’ Combination After the Wild Card Game

After a 2013 Wild Card game performance in which Asdrubal Cabrera went 0-4 with a strikeout and the single most deflating play of the season, a double play in the bottom of the 4th with the bases loaded, the phrase ‘bounce back’ was not an appropriate word for Cleveland audiences. However, as the Browns’ and Cavaliers’ seasons have progressed and impressed upon fans’ minds the nature of true cosmic despair in sports, where ‘hope’ is a meaningless word even in jest, the author feels he can now make the argument for an Asdrubal Cabrera bounce-back without fear of mob justice.

The term ‘bounce-back,’ in this case, does not refer to a 40-point increase in Batting Average or a 20-home run leap from 2013; nor, moreover, does it refer to the concept of a ‘contract year,’ since it’s difficult to believe that baseball players, who are already competing against the toughest competition in the world, can merely will themselves to perform better than they already have. Baseball’s hard – Major League Baseball, orders of magnitude harder.

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Report: Browns to Interview Steel Girder for HC

BEREA, OH – As the Cleveland Browns’ Head Coaching search begins its third week, the Browns have purportedly targeted a steel girder located in a Garfield Heights home to be the next interview candidate for the position.

Steel Girder (Source: Wikimedia)

The position, vacated after the surprise firing of former Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski, has been connected to a number of candidates across the league, including the Seattle Seahawks’ Defensive Coordinator, Dan Quinn, as well as Adam Gase, Offensive Coordinator for the Denver Broncos.

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Deluded Ralph on the Luol Deng Trade and Business Sense

From childhood, I, Ralph-onse James de Rothschild, have always had a healthy respect for business sense. Regaled on my grand-uncle’s knee with epics of Cleveland oil baron John D. Rockefeller, the glory of business acumen was impressed upon me from when I was but a tender babe. ‘He rose from obscurity to business greatness,’ grand-uncle misted. ‘Get back to the mines,’ my grand-uncle continued – Wisdom that guides me to this day.

Yet while these tales molded me in youth, I have outgrown these fables and have acquired my own eye for big business – namely, I have a friend who owns a used video game store, I watched ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ and have played Roller Coaster Tycoon. So I feel uniquely qualified to commend the Cavaliers’ business savvy in trading for Luol Deng, since it gives the Cavs a better chance to make the playoffs, and if they make the Playoffs, LeBron will love us again and come back.

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Freak Finger Injuries: A Retrospective

In July 2010, the Cleveland Indians made the move to trade Jake Westbrook to the St. Louis Cardinals in a three-way trade with the Padres; at the time, the return was nothing if not genuinely saddening. Westbrook’s contract was hardly club-friendly, and his injury issues coupled with eroding performance made his departure inevitable, but it was still disheartening to see the then-longest-tenured Indians starter depart in exchange for a stagnating 24-year-old Double-A pitcher.

Three years later, however, that same fringe prospect, Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber, became a foundation of a budding 2013 playoff run and of a 2014 club intent to return to October. It’s no hyperbole to say that Kluber’s 2013 performance placed him among some of the best pitchers in the league. During the 2013 season, Kluber’s xFIP – Expected Fielding Independent Pitching – placed him 14th among the 187 starters with more than 50 innings pitched; for context, NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez finished the year directly ahead of Kluber, whereas directly behind Kluber were Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole, together with Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer. This elite performance contrasted with Kluber’s entirely lukewarm prospect projections would have made the Stetson University alum one of the most compelling comeback stories in the major leagues – were the Indians rotation anything other than a vast library of compelling stories, including Scott Kazmir’s return from Independent Baseball, Ubaldo’s return from replacement-level baseball, and Danny Salazar’s possible return from Olympus astride a 98-mph fastball. Continue reading

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Deluded Ralph Reflects on the 2013 Browns

Welp, it’s that time of year again, folks. The time where we look back on the 2013 regular season that was. Relive the 2013 and its Shakespearean mix of laughter and tears. It’s like how I laughed at the wacky hijinks of Duck Dynasty, only to realize that I also manufacture bird calls in the deep south and, though myself an aspiring aesthete robed in luxurious Italian camo, have not once been invited to talk with GQ. Weeping ensued, permanently staining my bemberg-lined fishing attire.

The first week of the playoffs have come and gone, and as most Browns fans expected at the beginning of the season, our Browns did not participate. I’ll say this – there was a stretch when I thought that our orange-clad defense would have us competing this past week, but given the state of our offense, that just wasn’t going to happen.

And was there any other possible outcome with that passing attack? The offense almost single-handedly kept us out of the wild-card round of the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Browns’ offense ended up breaking some kind of record in 2013.

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