Cleveland Sports Insiders

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The Sunday Drive with Santana, Salazar, Bauer and LeBron James

With Mother’s Day and Easter behind us, and with the Indians’ locomotive heading towards Father’s Day and the hopeful heat of summer, it’s time for me to dust off the trusty old Smith-Corona PWP 5000 Word Processor (look that one up) and start writing about Cleveland Sports again. With the off-season Cavs and Browns actually becoming more interesting than the in season Indians, there’s plenty to talk about in this week’s Sunday Drive.

I really don’t know where to begin with the Cleveland Indians, so I suppose I’ll start with Carlos Santana.  I was all for the Santana experiment when it started. I was excited even more to see Santana start there when the Tribe announced early in Spring Training that he was going to be the starter.

I’m less excited now.

This is when I wish I utilized my brain for my decision-making skills, and not my heart. Look. We all knew that learning the third base position at the major league level starting in December was a long-shot at best. Hell, I would even go so far as to say that it was an impossible shot, from December through March.

Instead, my trust for Francona-decisions allowed my sense and sensibilities to get thrown out the window. Instead, I kept thinking to myself, “Boy, if he gets out from behind the plate, his offense will improve.”

Think about that. On one hand, Santana won’t be catching all those games, so his legs should be fresh. Of course, he’s learning a new position…and third base to boot. I did talk about one offsetting the other, but my blind belief that he could overcome this without physically seeing him or talking with him was simply idiotic. Continue reading

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500 words or more…on LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

LeBron and Z during the good ole' days (Tony Dejak/AP)

LeBron and Z during the good ole’ days (Tony Dejak/AP)

Hero-Worship.

It’s a phrase that’s often uttered in reference to our favorite sports players.

To some, it’s more hyperbole than anything else.

To others, it’s a right of fan-dom. If there’s a player you love, you treat him above all else.

In Cleveland, nobody had epitomized the term hero-worship more than LeBron James.

If you’re reading this, there’s no reason to go into too much detail with regards to LeBron’s history. He grew up in Akron, less than an hour from Cleveland. He led his high school, St. Vincent-St. Mary’s to three state championships and one national championship. He declared for the NBA draft, and when the Cleveland Cavaliers won the right to the first pick that year, words such as Kismet and Destiny were uttered more than once.

His career in Cleveland was special, but certainly not perfect. Yet, Cleveland Cavaliers fans realized that for perhaps the first time in many, many years, the best player in the world in a major sport played for a team with Cleveland stitched on the front. Continue reading


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CSI 71: Browns upheavel, Masterson guidelines and Cavs at the deadline

Mike and Jim watched their “only Browns” podcast get hijacked by the news that the Reds’ starting pitcher Hunter Bailey is on the verge of signing a reported six-year, $100 million contract. Listen as they try and make sense of the Browns’ moves in the front office, as well as looking forward to their potential moves in the upcoming draft. They also discuss Masterson’s potential windfall should Bailey sign his long-term deal with the other Ohio team, then end with what the Cavs may do at the deadline with Luol Deng and Kyrie Irving.


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CSI 70: Chris Grant, Mike Brown, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Bennett

CSI will be back and better than ever this week with new content, new pods and new discussions heading to the Cavaliers All-Star break, the Browns 2014 draft, and the Indians spring training. Also look for our podcasts to take off with daily content from Steve, Mike and I, as well as our newcomer, Jeff Ellis, who will begin posting original draft content here starting with a piece for tomorrow!

Today’s podcast is focusing on Chris Grant and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and what they can do to turn things around during the 2013-2014 season, and what they should do with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Luol Deng, Anderson Varejao and Anthony Bennett heading into the offseason and beyond. This team is as hard to figure out as any Cavaliers’ team in the past 20 seasons, and with David Griffin taking over, can they turn things around, and do they even want to?

Here’s the show: Continue reading


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The future of Kyrie Irving in Cleveland

1It was bound to happen.

At one point or another, someone was bound to report that Kyrie Irving wanted to leave Cleveland. If you want to be honest about it, someone already did report that Kyrie Irving was going to leave Cleveland long before Chad Ford made his flippant comment yesterday in his online chat. I seem to recall CBS Radio’s Brandon Tierney saying the same thing.

The point is that at the end of every season, when Cavaliers’ fans take stock of the team, the first question everyone asks is, “Is he going to leave?”

It’s habit.

It’s what happens when the greatest basketball player in all the land grows up an hour from Cleveland, gets drafted by his “hometown” Cavs, nearly leads them to the Promised Land, then toys with the fans for year before taking his talents to South Beach.

I don’t blame LeBron for leaving. That was his right. But Cleveland fans are now gun-shy with their meaningful basketball players.

Kyrie Irving isn’t LeBron James. He’s not the best basketball player on the planet, nor is he going to be. He likely is the best basketball player in Cleveland though, and nearly from the time he was drafted with that #1 pick in June of 2011, Cleveland fans have been wondering:

“Is he going to leave?” Continue reading


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Cleveland Cavaliers finger-pointing

1aaThe Cleveland Cavaliers are a team that truly seems rudderless. They play well over long stretches , only to get blown out by 44. They take big leads in games, only to give them up as though 25-point leads are close games.

When you stare at the Cavs for any length of time, you see a team that lacks leaders, consistency and direction.

Throughout the season, you can point to several different issues that have been or are at root with the struggles of this team. Dan Gilbert, Chris Grant, Mike Brown and nearly every member of the team has, at one point or another, been at the center of finger-pointing, and you can take that phrase at face value, because I’m not always pointing the same finger.

The frustration is that this isn’t a bad basketball team talent-wise. Kyrie Irving has talent. Dion Waiters has talent. Tristan Thompson has talent. Yeah, even Anthony Bennett has talent. The problem? Well, if there were one, things wouldn’t be where they are right now. The Cavs are 16-29. They were 13-32 last year, but were 17-28 two seasons ago. In other words, they aren’t any better…yet.

As the Cavaliers head to New York tonight after a 1-4 road trip, you can’t help but feel this is a make-or-break road trip. Can they be a good basketball team? Do we even want them to be?

Let’s point some fingers…and feel free to use whichever finger you see fit: Continue reading


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The Sunday Drive with the Oregon spread offense in Cleveland?

Oregon offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery

Oregon Offensive Coordinator Philip Montgomery

I’ve been feeling a bit closer to the North Coast over the past few weeks, as the temperatures here in North Carolina have more resembled the frozen tundra of the borderlands of Lake Erie. While the temperature here has dipped below freezing far too many times for my liking, we have avoided the ample snow-footage that the Lake provides. I don’t miss the thrice-daily slogs out to my snow blower to clear the driveway of both wind-blow and street-plow piled snow. Still, the recent cold blast has me dreaming wistfully of the Indians’ Spring Training, the Browns’ draft and summer camp, and the Cavs foray back into the lottery.

Thankfully, all three Cleveland teams were active in one way or another over the past week, albeit in very different ways, which kept me from crawling into sports hibernation.

While my attention has needed some warming up no thanks to the weather, it’s been mostly focused on the warm seasons of 2014 for Cleveland sports. The Indians, however, continue to do everything they can to keep some of that attention pointing right back to the 1990’s thanks to their 2014 version of Tribe Fest. The Tribe has their normal conglomerate of current players headlining the event, but the focus Continue reading


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The Sunday Drive with Carlos Santana, Wahoo, the Browns waiting game and quarterbacks

Santana Slam (by Jason Miller US Presswire)

Santana Slam (by Jason Miller US Presswire)

So I had this crazy idea to write about several things that DIDN’T pertain to the Browns, the Cavs or the Indians this week. The void that is now known as the “Browns’ head coaching search” has left me in such a mood, that I felt like moving as far away from sports as possible.

In a few paragraphs, you’ll note that I wrote about…the Indians, the Browns and the Cavs.

What changed?

I have no freaking clue.

My weekend has been a bust, and it’s been busy, and it’s cost me more money than I can begin to tell you, but it also left me with tons of time to think about sports, which is what I do when I’m stressed.

I sat back and started thinking about the 80’s in particular, and while my focus was far away from Cleveland sports, it rarely is ever as far as I’d like to think it is.

I was pondering the 80’s, and the players that really stood out to me. I met a rookie in 1979 at Municipal Stadium who sat and talked to me for a long, long time. He played for the A’s, and he talked to me for a long, long time. By the time I was done talking to him, he had grabbed a baseball and literally grabbed every A’s player that walked by to sign it. He signed it last.

It was Rickey Henderson, and while people remember the enigma of Rickey, I always remember that August day where he literally came up TO ME and asked me how I was doing.

After that, I followed Henderson, and then Vince Coleman after him. Tim Raines also was fun to watch, as was Willie Wilson. I loved watching these guys just decimate pitchers on the basepaths, and their teams were always such a factor because of it. Continue reading