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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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


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The Sunday Drive with Bynum trades, New Coaches and BASEBALL!!!

Bynum and Gasol (photo: NBA)

Bynum and Gasol (photo: NBA)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: an Andrew Bynum for Pau Gasol trade makes zero sense unless you foolishly believe that the Cleveland Cavaliers can either be a factor in the playoffs or sign Gasol long-term. If you honestly believe that the Cavaliers can do either, than I have a bridge to sell you.

I am not saying that the Cavaliers should call it a season and just start losing basketball games for the sake of losing. What I am saying is that every team needs to weigh how much one player can improve a team in the short-term, vs. the long haul.

What will it cost to get Gasol? If it were just Bynum, I’d be all in. The move saves the Lakers money, and it would give the Cavs a player to keep Anderson Varejao‘s minutes down. That would be a win-win for the Cavs and the Lakers.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, a proposed straight up trade can’t be made since the Cavaliers would have to add another player to it to make it work monetarily. It’s been reported that the Lakers want Sergei Karasev in the deal to give them a piece that they can use in the future, but Bynum and Karasev still wouldn’t get the trade done.

The Cavaliers would have to include one other player along with Bynum and Karasev to make the deal work, and that player would likely be a throw-in, such as Henry Sims. Some wouldn’t consider that a throw-in, some may not. Either way, what short-term or long term goal does this achieve for the Cavs?

Nothing positive.

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The Sunday Drive with Bynum, Ubaldo, JRam and Wendle

Jose Ramirez (photo courtesy of Lianna Holub)

Jose Ramirez (photo courtesy of Lianna Holub)

I’m stuck in the holiday lull.

Christmas is over, and I feel like I’m in a holding pattern for New Year’s Eve. One group of family has left for home, and another group is heading North for more fun and spirits.

I’m in need of some meaningful sports, and I’m not talking about NBA theatrics with a known enigma like Andrew Bynum.

I’m talking about games that mean something. Perhaps there’s a rivalry game in which the Browns could knock the aforementioned rival out of the playoffs. Oh wait, the Browns have to lose that game.

Thanks goodness for Ohio State football, and that game this coming Friday against Clemson. Fortunately for the Tigers, Woody Hayes won’t be patrolling the sidelines. Unfortunately for Clemson Urban Meyer will be there in his stead.

The Buckeyes will be agitated. The Buckeyes will be angry. The Buckeyes will be set to make a statement. Clemson will score their points for sure, but I really think we’re going to see why Urban Meyer is the best coach in the country. Look for Carlos Hyde to have his best day as a Buckeye, and look for Braxton Miller to go over 100 yards rushing, and 200 yards passing.

The Bucks defense will be more than good enough.

What are my predictions for this game?

Ohio State 48, Clemson 24. I don’t know that it’ll be that close.

Next week, while basking in the victory, we’ll take a look at what the Buckeyes look like heading into 2014. They’ll be better than this year if Braxton Miller comes back, and they’ll have a chip on their shoulder….but for next week…

…for today…let’s get driving…
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The Sunday Drive with winning, losing, dysfunction and Brantley

Michael Brantley (photo: AP)

Michael Brantley (photo: AP)

The Sunday Drive is a bit late today, as all things tend to be in this crazy week leading up to the holidays. It’s also going to be a bit short, as time is running out on the day, and I don’t want to start making this thing a Sunday or Monday Drive.

Here are some really quick thoughts about Cleveland sports, and we’ll get back to a full edition next weekend.

Let’s get driving:

What does being a Browns’ fan entail these days? It’s entirely a Catch-22. The top priority is getting an all-important high draft pick in next year’s draft. Of course, you can’t follow a football team and not root for them to win, right? In a perfect world, the only thing a football fan should be worrying about heading into the final week of the season is either how long to play the starters because the team has already clinched, or how important it is to win to actually clinch.

That’s rarely the case for the Cleveland Browns. Instead, the only thing that matters from year-to-year is how many games the Browns can lose, and because of that, how high up the draft board they can move up.

Talk about dysfunctional.
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The Sunday Drive with a Santana shift, MLB Money and a Waiters surge

The Sunday Drive is generally a co-op piece between the writers here at C.S.I. On occasion, one of us will write the entire piece, or the majority of the piece, but the fun of it for us is that we try and connect them between all the writers. This is clearly still a work in progress, but I promise you that it will continue to be better, and hopefully turn into something that you’ll keep coming back to on Sunday morning, while your eating your Sunday brunch and drinking your morning coffee. We aren’t trying to become something we’re not…

…we’re fans, the guys next door, the guys sitting at the corner of the bar talking sports, just like you…

…let’s get driving.

The offseason has been an interesting one, even if the Cleveland Indians haven’t really done a whole lot to excite the North Coast. It’s a tough sell to a group of fans that were spoiled heading into the 2013 season with not one, but two multi-year, multi-million dollar deals. The Indians managed to re-image and re-invigorate their baseball team in one offseason, by bringing in the right manager, and supplementing him with the right mix of players.

They were aggressive with their approach, and they were aggressive with their money.Perhaps they were equally aggressive prior to 2007 in theory, although there weren’t any MAJOR additions to the 2006 club that disappointed a bit after a phenomenal 2005 campaign.

The Indians traded for Josh Barfield that year, and signed the real Roberto Hernandez as a potential set-up guy at the tail of his career. They signed Joe Borowski to be their closer, and David Dellucci to play in the outfield. They signed Keith Foulke as a potential closer option, and Trot Nixon to play some outfield and to DH a bit. At the trade deadline, they traded for Kenny Lofton

They weren’t splashy moves, but they weren’t cheap ones either. They all obviously didn’t work out, but the Indians were clearly trying to regain their footing after 2006.

It worked. Maybe not because of all those moves, but the approach was certainly there.
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The Sunday Drive with Josh Gordon, Chris Grant and Carlos Beltran

Gordon (AP Photo/David Richard)

Gordon (AP Photo/David Richard)

This weekend was a horrific mess of circumstances here in my little slice of Cleveland away from home. We had playdates and birthday parties and sleepovers and horses and dinner dates to contend with. When you toss in the biggest East Coast parade not located in New York City or Orlando, you have one massive conundrum of hoopla, sleep, running around, crying and did I mention sleep?

Okay..sleep deprivation is more like it.

As crazy as things were here in my own version of the North Coast Carolina, they were relatively silent back in Cleveland with regards to the Browns, the Indians and the Cavaliers.

Seriously.

Unless you throw in the fact that it’s Pittsburgh Steelers week, or the fact that the Indians made their first move of the offseason, or that the Cavs are in a spiral of struggle after getting rolled by San Antonio on Sunday night.

Yeah, it can only mean that it’s the holiday season, and with Thanksgiving and Michigan Week about to take over here, let’s get driving, before I fall asleep from the Turkey.

It’s Steelers’ week, and while that has generally meant a lot more to the Browns in recent years than the Steelers, it’s still the Browns’ top rival. I’ve been to many, many games at Cleveland Stadium involving these two teams, and I’ve seen some of the most amusing exchanges between fans. My favorite memory is of a ‘Terrible Towel’ waving fan sitting in front of me during halftime of a 1984 game between the two teams. The Steelers were up 7-0 at that point, and he was taking particular glee in waving the towel as though the Steelers had won the Super Bowl that very afternoon. Several minutes later, he was literally carried off by a contingent of pre-Dawg Pound Browns’ fans. He never returned. The Browns went on to win 20-10.

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The Sunday Drive with playoff implications, fights and rumors

Cameron runs over Bengals (photo: AP)

Cameron runs over Bengals (photo: AP)

I’ve never gotten used to November weather here in North Carolina since I moved here from the North Coast nearly fifteen years ago. There’s always a constant battle of Summer, Fall and sometimes Winter that always leaves me a bit off balance.

I mean seriously, it snowed here this past Thursday night, then climbed up to 70 on Saturday.

It’s November.

There should be no mixing of shorts and jeans, t-shirts and coats, ice scrapers and air conditioning.

It’s nearly as off-putting as Cleveland sports, to be honest. You have the Browns at 4-5, who either have two potential quarterbacks for 2014, or none, depending on who you talk to. Of course, there’s 2013, and a legit chance at winning the division, or getting into the playoffs.

Or not.

There’s the Cavaliers, who are either beating the tar outta each other in players-meetings, or not. They had the #1 pick in the NBA, and he’s been playing like a D-League player. Dion is awesome with the ball, but bad without it. Kyrie is better without the ball, than with it. The Cavaliers will be an exciting playoff contender this year.

Or not.

Then there’s the Indians. They rebuild their team in a season and motor into the playoffs with a ten-game win streak, only to lose the one-game playoff that was instituted for the first time ever last season. They seem ready to make a few moves to take them over the top, but may not have the money to do it. They are ready to make the next move to become better.

Or not.

North Carolina weather and Cleveland Sports…hot and cold.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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