Cleveland Sports Insiders

Ernie Camacho's favorite blog…


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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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Quick thoughts on the Cavs post-Bynum

Will Bynum's departure help Thompson and the Cavs? (Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer)

Will Bynum’s departure help Thompson and the Cavs? (Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer)

The Cleveland Cavaliers are directly in the middle of the whirlwind of the news that Andrew Bynum is either suspended indefinitely from the team, or is on the trading block, or both. While that story will certainly play out over the next few hours, there’s another interesting tidbit that will take place as well.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have to play basketball. So where do they go from here?

Bynum had been starting for the Cavaliers, and had been averaging 20 minutes per game on the season, and 22.6 minutes in the month of December. He’s averaging 8.4 points, 5.3 boards and 1.2 blocks per game since the start of the year, and 9 1/2 points, 6 1/2 boards and a block since the start of the month.

The numbers certainly aren’t special in and of themselves, but when taken into account what his presence has meant for the team on several levels, including supplementing Anderson Varejao, his presence has certainly been important on the court.

Varejao, as much an injury concern as Bynum, has averaged almost 29 minutes a game, putting up 7.9 points and 8.8 boards a game on the season. When you put the two together as one center, you have some pretty elite numbers: 17 points, 14 boards and two blocks a game. You can also credit Bynum’s presence for allowing Varejao to play fewer minutes, thus keeping him healthy.

While Andrew Bynum has been a surprise, it’s not like he’s been a star, and for stretches, he’s not been a very good basketball player. Perhaps getting  Zeller more playing time allows this team to get better in the long run, and perhaps they lose a few more games this year and get a better pick next year.
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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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Cleveland Sports Insiders: The Podcasts 60 & 61

Welcome to the next TWO editions of Cleveland Sports Insiders, one of the many podcasts here at Indians Baseball Insider! Tonight, you get two for the price of one, as IBI columnists Jim Pete and Michael Hattery tackle both the Cleveland Indians, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In the first podcast, Mike and Jim talk about the Indians’ offense in 2014, and how good it is as is, the needs of the Indians going forward with regards to the starting pitching and the bullpen, whether or not the Indians should deal Michael Brantley and what they should get for him if they do, and the perception of this team if the Indians truly don’t do anything in the midst of all this spending.

In the second podcast, Mike and Jim talk about the Cleveland Cavaliers two most recent “breakout” players in Andrew Bynum. Bynum has been playing in 25-to-30 minutes a night, and coming close to a double-double, while Waiters has been showcasing some star-power since allegedly calling out Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson for buddy ball. Have the Cavs found their new stars, or is there something else at play with Mike Brown‘s Cavs?

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Cavalier Daggers…with Dion Waiters domination…

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Dion Waiters (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

If there is one word that describes how I’ve felt about the Cavaliers over the past fourteen days, curious wouldn’t be that word.

Disgusted would fit.

Annoyed would work.

Disenchanted would suit me just fine.

Curious would be far from the discussion, unless you incorporate the Miami Heat into the discussion…especially this year.

On Wednesday night, the night before Thanksgiving, the Miami Heat headed to Cleveland for a matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Miami Heat are the defending champions.

The Miami Heat are the two-time defending champions.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, most assuredly, are not.

There couldn’t be two teams further from each other over the past three seasons since LeBron James left Cleveland amidst a flurry of burned jerseys, grown men crying, and football sized banners being cut down.

The Heat, if at all possible, seem to be a team that are really just now figuring out how to manage themselves the right way during the regular season. They have a coach that’s still learning, and a team that truly fits together and understands the roles that they play.

Role models create roles.

The Cavaliers, if at all possible, seem to be a team that plays worse night-after-night, never really figuring out how to manage their new pieces and parts, and truly not really seeming to care about how to do it. Their starting lineup seems to change on a daily basis, and I doubt that anyone either knows their roles, or really cares much to figure it out.

It’s hard not to look at the team and think…black holes…

Of course, it’s early in the season and the Cavs still have plenty of time to gel together…or at least that’s what everyone on twitter tells me.

Let’s take a look at today’s Cavalier Daggers:
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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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Cavalier Daggers…with a team that just isn’t very good

(Photo: Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports USA TODAY Sports)

The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t very good.

No, I’m not saying that’s the defining statement for the wine and gold for the 2013-2014 season, but it certainly is true for the first ten games of the seasons for a team that is looking to make a major move this year. Last season, after ten games, the Cavaliers stood at 2-8. This season, they are 3-7.

So I guess there’s that.

Let’s take a look at today’s Cavalier Daggers:

  • I’m not ready to send Mike Brown packing just yet. He was brought in to fix the defense, and while that side of the court has a long, LONG ways to go at this point, they are a better defending team than they were in 2012-2013, and they are only ten games in. Now, I do fear this offense a bit. My biggest complaint during the Brown/LeBron era was that at the end, LeBron seemed to deflate the basketball. It turned into LeBron dribbling a lot, and everyone watching. Kyrie Irving isn’t LeBron, but boy are there times when he dribbles way too much. Again, we’re only ten games in, but that has to begin changing over the next two months for the Cavs to be anything better than a 25-win team.

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Cleveland Sports Insiders: The Podcast 51: Bynum returns to Philly and guard-a-palooza

We here at Cleveland Sports Insiders are going to do everything in our power to fill the void left by the Cleveland Browns bye week. No, we aren’t going to be talking about the Browns…that would make far too much sense.

Instead, we’re going to talk about the other in-season sport in town, and no, I’m not talking about the Hot Stove Season either.

That’s right, it’s all about basketball in today’s CSI: The Podcast, and we’re going to focus most of our attention on a brand new three-headed monster that Mike Brown unveiled in the fourth quarter of the Cavs. I’ll get into that in the breakdown.

This Cavaliers are an incredibly interesting team, and while they are far from a finished product, this team has so many incredibly interesting pieces and parts and storylines, that it may take the entire season to figure out just what this team has.

Are they a playoff team, or are they going to be going back-and-forth all year long between solid play and looking like the second youngest team in basketball.

For those wondering at home, the Cavs average 24 years of age, while the Philadelphia 76ers average 23.9. The Cavs also come in at third in the league in experience, coming in at an average of 3.1 years of experience, in front of only the Phoenix Suns (2.9) and the New Orleans Pelicans (2.6).

Let’s face facts, when you are that young and that inexperienced, you are going to continue to go through some growing pains, regardless of how talented your players are, and the Cavaliers are proving that night-in, and night-out.

It should be a fun year.

Here’s the rundown:

1:35–Michael Hattery makes a bold statement for fantasy football Sunday.

3:10–Andrew Bynum returns to Philadelphia and is happily greeted by the joyful Sixers’ fans.

5:00–Will Andrew Bynum retire?

8:00–The three-guard line-up. What brought it about, and will it continue?

9:15–The three-guard line-up owes Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao.

11:15–Is Kyrie Irving the next Allen Iverson, and will we ever get a Cleveland version of the practice video?

14:00–Dion Waiters has had moments of incredible basketball clarity this season in between his struggles. Mike and Jim talk about his ethic, his team-work, his improved defense and how this really could be his coming out party in 2013.

17:00–The Cavs are 3-0 at home, how important is home court?

18:20–The beginning of the third quarter has been a struggle for the Cavaliers…is this a problem for Mike Brown, or is it just a small sample size and the nature of the beast for a young basketball team.

21:00–There is a massive hole at the #3 slot for the Cavaliers, even taking into account that Mike Brown put Alonzo Gee into the starting lineup. Will C.J. Miles, Anthony Bennett, Alonzo Gee, Earl Clark, or another unknown player fill that hole?

24:20–This is Tristan Thompson’s world, and we’re just living in it.

27:20–Thompson can flat out handle the basketball.

28:00–Are the Cavaliers building a home-grown big three in Waiters, Irving and Thompson?

31:25–Anthony Bennett

32:50–The Houston Astros


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The struggles of Kyrie Irving

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Kyrie Irving (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Kyrie Irving has struggled a bit to start off the 2013-2014 season.

If you don’t give it much thought, there are a lot of superficial reasons can pop into your head. Some of those reasons might not be so superficial.

Is it because the Cavaliers are running a new offense under the defensive-minded Mike Brown?

Is it because Kyrie is pushing himself to take the next step in a season in which many believe, including himself, that he will break out?

Is it because the Cavaliers seem to be focused on getting the ball to their big men, with guys like Anderson Varejao inexcusably getting looks from 10-15 feet?

There’s likely some truth to all of the above, as well as some other incendiary issues playing a part into the Cleveland Cavaliers best players’ early season “struggles.”

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