Friday, October 12, 2007

C.omplete C.rap

Not the way you want to start the ALCS. After Travis Hafner homered in the first inning off of almost untouchable Josh Beckett, C. C. Sabathia gave up consecutive singles to Kevin Youklis, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez to make it 1-1 after an inning.

He followed it up with a third inning in which he yielded 4 runs on 2 hits. The first run scored after he had Manny "Scum" Ramirez down in the count 0-2 and then walked him. Boston proceeded to pound the ball all over the place for the rest of the inning. The Red Sox added another 3 runs on 3 hits in the bottom of the fifth inning and C. C. was gone with only one out in the fifth.

His final line:
4 1/3 IP, 7 H, 8 R/ER, 5 BB, 3 SO... Ouch.

Final score: Red Sox 10, Indians 3.

Bottom line with Beckett dealing C. C. needed to keep the Tribe close in order for them to have a chance. Close was the farthest thing that can be said about this game. Tribe can still salvage a split in Boston but need Fausto to out duel The Narcissist Curt Schilling tomorrow night. For now the Indians are down 0-1 in the ALCS.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

You sir, are an a$$hole...

Welcome back Joey Porter! Cleveland missed you. It's good to see you are still the classiest guy in football. Calling Kellen Winslow a wide receiver and not a tight end. You are a bad man. Guaranteeing that you will win the Joey Porter - Kellen Winslow battle. Guess what assclown, no one cares who wins the Joey Porter - Kellen Winslow battle except you. I don't even think K2 cares. HELLO! YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME! You sir, are an asshole. You always were and you always will be. Whether in Black & Tinkle or Teal & White, it does not matter. Besides you have to go up against Joe Thomas this year not the HPC. He's on the right side now. Tables are turned... bitch. I shall refer to you as "Feces" from now on, "poop" is too nice.

OK, enough about Feces on to the game. The Browns should win by 2 touchdowns. OK I said it. The Browns should win by 2 touchdowns. The Dolphins are awful. God awful. Their offense has no skill players what-so-ever. Trent Green is out, and hopefully will retire, and the Dolphins are forced to start Cleo "Just call me Spurgeon Wynn" Lemon because second round draft choice John Beck in not ready yet. Number 1 choice Ted Ginn, Jr. has looked awful as an NFL receiver and I am sure Miami fans are still crying over the decision to select him over the Mighty Brady Quinn. Cleveland native Chris Chambers is an impact receiver but can Lemon get him the ball so he can make plays? RB Ronnie Brown has had a monster year yet but hasn't faced many quality defenses yet this year. And no, the Browns don't qualify as a quality defense.

On defense, the Fins still have Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Vonnie Holiday and the aforementioned Feces but they are all older and have lost a step. They only have 7 sacks as a team and Taylor has 3 of them. No one else has more than 1. Feces has zero. Zero. The secondary is not great and the lack of pressure up front leaves them exposed. This is not the Fins D of old who could carry their mediocre offense and win games. They can be exploited.

Why should the Browns win by 2 touchdowns? The Dolphins are not a better team than the Browns. In fact, the Browns are much more cohesive than the Dolphins, which is embarrassing for Miami. The Dolphins are a team that is in more disarray in the front office than the Browns. They They have less talent than the Browns. They drafted a punt returner with their #1 draft pick. They signed a veteran QB who was prone to concussions. They big against themselves signed Feces to a lucrative deal.

Cam Cameron is trying to implement the same offense he ran in San Diego that Chud is implementing in Cleveland and it has been a disaster because Miami does not have the personnel to run it, the Browns do. They don't have the game breakers like the Browns do and with Green out they don't have anyone capable of running the ship. The only way the Browns get gashed is if they do not account for Ronnie Brown who is nothing special. Force Cleo Lemon to make plays to Chambers. The Fins are going to force feed Ronnie Brown down our throats. If the Browns can't see that coming they don't deserve to win the game.

On O, the Browns are simply more athletic and explosive than the Dolphins D. If Jamal Lewis is out, that will hurt but Jason Wright might be able to scat his way to a few yards on the ground. The improved O line should be able to handle the Fins weakened pass rush and give DA some time to find Braylon, K2 and the gang. It boils down to DA as always. The Fins D is aging but they are a crafty, smart of veterans who will capitalize on mistakes.

Stop Ronnie Brown, force Cleo Lemon to beat you, minimize the mistakes and turnovers on offense and the Browns will win by 2 touchdowns. It just a question of whether or not they can do it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The First Step

Kudos to all the baseball experts than said the Cleveland Indians had no chance in the ALDS versus the mighty New York Yankees. Final tally Indians 3, Yankees 1. It's amazing that the Indians were such overwhelming underdogs despite some obvious statistics.

First, they actually won their division. Now I know since the inception of the 3 divisions and wild card formats in 1995 wild card teams have fared very well in the playoffs due to them having to fight down the wire to get in (see Rockies, Colorado 2007). However, the Yankees did not come in on a roll. They were slumping but they weren't in their intimidating form of July and August when they were tearing up the competition left and right. The Indians came into the playoffs sure and steady wining series after series after series to pull away from Detroit.

Second, the Indians tied for the best record in baseball. Now I know they were 96-66 and the Yankees were 94-68. Two games, wow. But when you look at it, due to the unbalanced schedule the Indians had to play the Tigers, Twins, White Sox and feisty Royals almost 80 times this year while the Red Sox and Yankees had to play Toronto, Baltimore and Tampa Bay, three of the dredges of the American League. The Indians were challenged more often on a nightly basis than the Yankees were, plain and simple.

Finally, what is the old baseball adage? Good pitching beats good hitting. Despite the Yankees superior line-up and playoff experience it was painfully obvious that the advantage the Indians had in pitching was ginormous. Carmona was dominant, Sabathia gutted it out long enough to let the Indians bats wake up, Byrd was solid yet unspectacular and the bullpen was lights out. Wang, Clemens and the Yankees bullpen could never come through when it counted and it ultimately cost them the series.

Yes, the Indians played over their head by coming through time and time again with 2 outs and runners in scoring position. But it's not like the Indians are a horrible offensive team. They can deliver in the clutch. In game 2, they stranded runner after runner on base against Andy Pettitte but kept chopping away and came through with an 11 inning win. They aren't the offense of the late 1990's but they can score runs. The percent of games they win when they score 4 or more runs is gaudy especially when you consider they play in the AL. With this pitching staff I will take my chances with 4 runs every game of the playoffs.

So now it's on to the ALCS and "The Commonwealth". The land of bad weather, ugly women and wicked awful accents. To face the other Evil Empire... the Boston Red Sox. Red Sox Nation won't admit it but they are what the Yankees are. A team with unlimited resources that can fill holes, take chances, make personnel mistakes and not bat an eye. They have all the high priced, high profile talent that the national media loves and once again the Indians will be a huge underdog.

But when you look at it these teams are eerily similar (including the identical 96-66 records) except for one thing the explosiveness of the line-up. Just like the Yankees, the Red Sox can hurt you from #1-#9. They have some power up and down their entire line-up. They play in a quirky little ball park that they take advantage of. The Red Sox can slug it out with the best, if not better than the rest of the league and that is what makes them dangerous. The Indians do not have the firepower the Red Sox do, but their line-up can take advantage of Fenway Park as well.

Ryan Garko and Jhonny Peralta can take advantage of the Green Monster just like Mike Lowell and Manny "Scum" Ramirez can. Hafner and Martinez can wrap one around the Pesky Pole just as well as Big Papi or J. D. Drew. Grady Sizemore and Kenny Lofton can get under your skin on the bases just like Dustin Pedroia or Coco Crisp. The Red Sox are a threat for a big inning every time they step up to the plate, but the Indians are capable of putting up crooked numbers to.

The starting pitching is a draw. Beckett and Schilling, playoff dominant. Sabathia and Carmona, hot and hungry. Dice K and Westbrook both have had up and down years and can wither be brilliant or ugly. Byrd and Wakefield are both tie testing veterans with more guts that stuff but are capable of getting the job done. Whichever offense can take advantage of the small amount of opportunities presented will have an upper hand.

The bullpen is also pretty even. The Indians set-up trio of Lewis, Perez and Betancourt has an advantage of Boston duo of Okajima and Gagne. But Jonathan Papelbon is lights out and we all know that Iron Joe Borowski is a rock mentally but has his moments of vulnerability.

The Indians need to take the same approach they took all season and just win series. It got them 96 wins and an ALDS victory. All season they kept winning series, whether 3-1, 2-1, 3-0 or 2-0 they kept winning series. They split some 2 game series here and there but you can live with that on the road.

They broke the ALDS into a 2 game series at home, a 2 game series on the road and a 1 game series at home. Just win the mini-series you win the series. They won the home series with NY 2-0 and split on the road 1-1. The Red Sox series is just 3 mini-series. 2 games at Boston, 3 games at home and 2 game back in Beantown. If you split both road series and win the home series you win the ALCS. That's all they have to do and they are more than capable of doing it.

The Indians Magic Number is 8. It's Tribe Time Now.

Monday, October 8, 2007

ALDS Game 4 Thoughts

Despite the fact the Indians dropped Game 3 of the ALDS last night they still hold a 2-1 lead over the New York Yankees in their Best of 5 match-up. I don't think anyone was expecting a sweep so the Indians still hold the upper hand in the match-up. There are a couple of keys they need to take advantage of in they want to eliminate the Yankees tonight and advance to their first ALCS since 1998.

Paul Byrd goes for the Tribe tonight against Chien-Ming Wang, who is starting on 3 days rest. Byrd in a fly ball pitcher who relies on on pinpoint control and deception to get hitters out. The Yankees are a predominantly left handed, power hitting club that take a lot of pitches and feast on mistakes. It is not a good match-up on paper. However, Byrd has shown the guts and mental toughness to work in difficult situations. He needs to work the corners of the strike zone as always but can not give into hitters. He may have a low walk ratio but a walk to the Yankees here and there are not bad. Walks are not good but they are better than a hanging change up.

That being said, if Byrd struggles, Uncle Eric will need to take a page out of Joe Torre's book and go to the bullpen early. Look at the wonders a couple innings from Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain did for the Yankees in Game 3. In keep the Indian hitter off balance and kept the score close to allow the Yankees to come back and eventually win. Rafael Perez and Rafael Betancourt have a couple days rest so they could go 2+ innings if needed. Jensen Lewis threw an inning last night but still could throw another 1 of 2 tonight. Aaron Laffey is a viable option if Byrd struggles early. These factors with a day off tomorrow give the Indians options and an advantage if needed.

As far as the offense goes, they need to take the same approach against Wang that they did in Game 1. Make him pitch. Work the count. Don't give into his breaking pitches. Yes, he is a much better pitcher at home, but he is going on 3 days rest. And the configuration of Yankee Stadium that is an advantage to the Yankees predominantly left handed line up can be used to the same advantage for the Indians predominantly left handed line up. But, and its a huge but, some one has to step up. Lofton did in game 1 and Grady and Pronk did in Game 2. Someone had to "be the guy" in Game 4. The Tribe kept fighting in the Game 3 loss and they must continue to do so in Game 4 to send the Yankees home for the fall tonight.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Bad Day

A picture (or two) is worth 1,000 words.

The Browns played the juggernaut that is the New England Patriots close but committed four costly turnovers in a 34-17 loss in Foxboro, MA this afternoon. The Indians followed suit later in the evening, failing to eliminate the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS after taking a 3-0 lead off Roger Clemens. The Tribe ended up on the wrong end of a 8-4 score that included poor defense a bad outing by Jake Westbrook and an inability to mount a comeback.

The Browns started off well by holding the Patriots to a FG on their opening drive and drove the ball down the length of the field when they got the ball back. The faced a 3rd and Goal at the1 when Derek Anderson rolled right and instead of throwing the ball out of the end zone he trying to force on into Steve Heiden and it was deflected and intercepted. His first pass on the next drive suffered the same fate as before you know it the Pats were up 20-0.

But give the Browns credit, the defense played tough and they got back to 20-10 before trading scores back and forth. Another DA interception (#3 on the day) and a K2 fumble that was returned for a TD sealed the Browns fate. Good news, the Browns fought hard all game, despite their turnovers, and did not roll over. Bad news, some of the same problems that have plagued them all season were still present. DA's inconsistency, the lack of a pass rush and poor safety play all were exposed again this afternoon.

The Browns also suffered some injuries as Jamal Lewis was injured on his first carry of the day. Joe Jurevicius left at half time with a leg injury and Brodney Pool left the game in the second half and was replaced by Mike Adams. Jason Wright filled in admirably for Lewis and Tim Carter actually made a couple play after coming in for Joe J.

Not a lot of positives for the Brownies today but the task at had was difficult. If anything, they played the Pats a lot tougher that the teams New England has played so far. It was also nice to see a Browns team that go down early not roll over and play dead a la the Steelers debacle on opening day. The play a horrible Miami team next week that lost their starting QB today. Hopefully they will be motivated after being slapped around by the Pats and don;t get caught in a trap like they did in Oakland.

The Indians added to today's pain by falling to the Yankees, 8-4 to narrow whir lead int he Best of 5 ALDS to 2-1. The Indians scored a run in each of the first 3 innings to go up 3-0. Jake Westbrook worked out of trouble in the 3rd with a 3-1 lead but then lost it in the 5th giving up 4 runs and the lead and then came out for the 6th for one batter. He was replaced by Aaron Fultz who did nothing to keep the game close as the Yankees plated 3 more runs to make it 8-3. The Tribe managed to mount a rally in the 8th but could only plate 1 run. Final score, Yankees 8 Indians 4.

Paul Byrd throws tomorrow and his history against the Yankees is as bad as Westbrook's is. A fly ball pitcher in Yankee Stadium with the predominantly left-handed New York line-up in not a good formula for success. If the Tribe wants to make more noise in the playoffs they need to get over the stigma of Yankees Stadium and just play baseball. They could do nothing against the young Yankees pitchers Phil Hughes of Joba Chamberlain who replaced and awful Roger Clemens. The need to seize back momentum in the series and strike the final blow tomorrow.

If they do not, they seed of doubt will be planted in their mind and that is never a good proposition.