Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cavs-Wizards: Washington and DeShawn Stevenson Prove They Are #2

As a native Clevelander living in DC, the past couple of weeks have been unbearable. The hatred of Cleveland, the Cavaliers and especially LeBron James has been palpable. We heard it all: overrated, overprotected, over hyped, crybaby. But in the end the Cavs eliminated the Wizards for the 3rd consecutive year at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. Why? Because they ignored the BS, played basketball and played as a team.

Now I could focus on how LeBron was the bigger and better man. Or I could focus on how under appreciated Zydrunas Ilgauskas is in the grand scheme of things. The fact that Daniel "Boobie" Gibson is becoming Mister May in Cleveland sports lore and that Wally Szczerbiak found his magic stroke for the first time in who knows how long were also huge factors. But to me the biggest fact in the series had nothing to do what the Cavs did and everything to do with what the Wizards TRIED to do.

The NBA has had it's share of bullies. The Bad Boys of the Detroit Pistons and the Pat Riley led New York Knicks come to mind. After that there are about 1oo other teams that you would put ahead of the Washington Wizards. Why you would try and play Hardguy when you are about as soft as soft can be in unfathomable. The sad thing is, the Wizards could have, and really should have, won the series if they had just played they're style of basketball. The Cavs don't have the legs or the gunners that Washington posses. But rather than just play their game, the Wizards players took it upon them selves to try and be tough and play selfish.

The only player who is exempt from this whole embarrassment is Antwan Jamison. From day 1 he said the Wiz just need to shut up and play basketball and that's what he did. He ofter getting over looked because of his flamboyant teammates steal the spotlight but this 2-time All-Star is a great player and a great person. He is an unrestricted free agent and I hope he find a new team and city that appreciates and more and utilizes him better than DC.
But the BS that is the Wizards all starts with their Captain, Agent 0.

Now, Gilbert Arenas is a great player, but he is a selfish one first and foremost. When he "shut it down" before Game 5 I was very nervous. Anyone who watched the Wizards all year could see that with Agent 0 out that the offense runs more smoothly through Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison. Supplementary players like Brenda Haywood, Antonio Daniels and Roger Mason gets touches and were productive all year.

But Agent 0 couldn't miss the playoffs. Not when he's opting out of his contract and is going to be on National TV. And he started the entire month of trash talking by saying that the Wizards (and the entire Eastern Conference) wanted the Cavs and LeBron James because they knew they were beatable. How'd that wish turn out for you, chief? Looks like the Hibachi has been turned off for the summer.

Mr. Tough Juice, Caron Butler, who came up big in Game 5 came up small in Game 6 when the Cavaliers focused their attention to him he wilted. Horribly. He had the quietest 18 point you could ever have. He didn't get his teammates involved with only 1 assist. He was visually frustrated throughout the game. I wouldn't call that Juice. I'd call it Tinkle. Enjoy the off season, Tough Tinkle.

Brenda Haywood called LeBron soft, called him a crybaby and made fun of him at every opportunity. This form a guy who couldn't get out of coach Eddie Jordan's doghouse until this year, has had conditioning and effort issues since he entered the league and has a history of sucker punching Etan Thomas because Brenda couldn't beat him out for more playing time. Brenda the Washington Mystics season just started, maybe you can be more effective there. Considering you have no balls, you should be allowed to play.

And then of course there is #2, DeShawn Stevenson. Ah yes. #2 really started everything in the regular season when he called LeBron over rated after James missed a game winning 3. Um, #2, who are you? The fact that you are one of the few starting players who makes under $1M should tell you something about your standing in the NBA. #2 those 3 points you put up in Game 1 were great. And then you backed it up with 12 points in a 30 point loss in game 2. But hey, #2, the "you can't see my face gesture" you did while down by 20 points was priceless.

The only reason I could think of why you did this is that you were checking to see if you hand smelled like ass, but it was your head you were smelling since you head has been up you ass for weeks now. And the 2-9, 10 point clunker you trotted out in the clincher was the perfect way to end your season, #2. Because you showed everyone that not only do you wear #2... you ARE #2! A big, stupid, ignorant, walking talking piece of #2 and you made your whole team come off as #2 when it was all said and done as well.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Anemic Offense Holding The Tribe Back

Their reigning Cy Young Award winner seems have gotten back on track, although C. C. should hit the treadmill a little bit more for longevity's sake.

Their up and coming sinker ball superstar has had little drop off from his breakout year in 2007. Fausto es fantastico!

Their wily veteran junk-baller seems to have found his deceptive, control based arsenal that he used to perfection last year, all without any HGH from his dentist. Kudos, Byrd-man.

The fifth starter who was left for dead is pitching like, well, Cy Young. Who knew, Clifton Phifer Lee, who knew?

Even with Jake The Snake on the DL they have up and coming Professor Sowers and The Joker come in a contribute solid efforts their first times out.

The bullpen seems to have come together after the loss of Iron Joe Borowski. The Fightin' Raffy Brothers continue to anchor the back end. Masa K seems to have adjusted as the weather has gotten warmer and gives the Tribe a third option in the late innings without worry of him showing up in any seedy Japanese films.

Yet, the Indians offense continues to squander great pitching night in and night out with no signs of permanently coming out of its season long funk. Yes, the O has teased us for a game or two at a time but the ineptitude at bat has left more that a few wins on the field in 2008.

Coming into Tuesday night's game, Victor Martinez is hitting .365. No other Indians' regular is hitting above .270. The Looch is next at .268. Grady Sizemore is only hitting .266 and only has an OBP of .375. No good for the lead-off man. Number two hitters Jamey Carroll and The As-Man are both hitting .219. So is #3 man DH Travis Hafner. Hafner looks totally lost at the plate and his strikeouts are so, so bad it makes you wonder if this "Pronk" persona even really existed. .219 out of your #2 and #3 holes is not going to get in done in the NL let alone the AL.

Ryan Garko is in an 0-23 skid and looks almost as bad as Hafner. Neither guy is even hitting the ball well and just getting unlucky. They both look completely lost at the plate. No one in the bottom of the order is hitting above .250. The are getting little power from anyone in the line-up. The put together multiple innings with scoring threats but are lucky it they get more than 2 runs an inning as the batting with RISP has been atrocious.

Pitching does win championships but you do need to score to have a chance to win. The Indians have been frustrating because they do tease you night in and night out with the prospect of breaking through but just can;t string it together for more than a few games in a row. Until they figure out how to do so they will hover around .500 and out of serious contention. I have faith in you boys, but its not early anymore.

It's Tribe Time Now. Believeland.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cleveland Browns 2008 Draft Analysis

Well the Browns had their own personal abbreviated version of the NFL Draft on Sunday. Short and sweet. Inevitably the focus will be on the 3 selections they didn't make due to the trades for Brady Quinn, Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers.

At the spot they would have selected in the 1st Round (22 overall) had they not traded that pick last year to draft Quinn, they may have been able to get a top of the line RB to back-up Jamal Lewis but the true impact OLB, DL or CB they coveted were already long gone.

They could have gotten one of the secondary group of QBs instead. Would I take Quinn over Joe Flacco? Yes. Brain Brohm? Yes. Chad Henne? Yes. I'd even take him over Matt Ryan. I would. We'll see how it plays out but I consider it basically a wash.

I think the same goes for the 2nd Round pick (56 overall) they traded for Williams and the 3rd Round (87 overall) pick they traded for Rogers. There isn't a name that jumps out at me in the range where the Browns would have drafted that makes me say we absolutely should have drafted them instead of making the trades.

The issue that gets forgotten is that they do have to pay Williams and Rogers more because they are veterans and not rookies, but I trust that Phil Savage had already weighed that into his decision. Just like if they were drafted, we'll have to wait and see how it pans out.

As for the 5 guys that the Browns actually drafted, the word on the street is that they had a big hard on for both LB Beau Bell of UNLV and DT Athyba Rubin of Iowa State. Apparently, they have been in love with Bell since they scouted CB Eric Wright before last year's draft. So much so they traded this year's 5th Round pick to jump up to get him.

A fierce attacker and solid tackler that the Andra Davis/D'Qwell Jackson/Leon Williams trio is not. They had him graded in their Top 40 but he fell due to playing in the Mountain West Conference, being injury prone and getting injured at the Senior Bowl which led to a substandard combine. In Phil we trust, so if he had him that high and all they gave up is a 5th round pick, I can live with that.

Rubin was an object of their affection due to his size (6'-3", 320) and the fact that he is one of the few pure NT in the draft. The Browns hope with the additions of Williams and Rogers along with the Robaire Smith/Shaun Smith combo (Mayor McCheese and the Hamburglar) that Rubin and Louis Leonard can develop into the younger DL they sorely need.

The most curious pick was the trading of a 2009 3rd round choice to grab Missouri TE Martin Rucker in the 4th Round. Rucker is a receiver TE that plays in the slot, exploits the middle of the field and can't really even been considered a blocker in any sense. This is curious because this is the exact description that can be made of Kellen Winslow, Jr./K2/The Soul-jah.

It's not just curious that they selected a TE but to give up a 3rd Round pick next year raises a few eyebrows. Is Winslow fully healthy after his 4th knee surgery this off season? Do they fear an Ocho Cinco-esque contract hold-out situation? Is Steve Heiden fully healthy after off season back surgery? Is it just simply a precautionary measure because they know Winslow's career will not be long due to his chronic knee problems? Whatever the reason, Darnell Dinkins should be concerned. And so am I. Dinkins won my "Ugliest Guy of the Browns" for the past two years and now I may have to search for his replacement.

Their last two picks, WR Paul Hubbard of Wisconsin and LB Alex Hall of St. Augustine's, are development players at best. Hubbard was injured most of his senior year but has the size (6'-4") that the Browns covet in WRs. The only knock I hear is that he has Dennis Northcutt hands, which is not good. Also, he wore #19 at Wisconsin. The Browns better think twice about letting him wear it for them. Hall is a Division II All-American who is a tall (6'-5") pass rushing specialist who they Browns hope to bulk up and maybe get lucky on.

It's hard to get excited about the draft just because of the lack of big name talent acquired. If the Browns have the correct read on Bell, Rucker and Rubin then you really couldn't ask for much more with the few picks they had.

Pittsburgh had a very good draft as they let the draft play out in front of them to perfection as they always seem to do. I am sure Big Ben had a giant pina colada to celebrate and I am sure Whines Hard, er I mean, The Cheapshot Artist/Evil Chipmunk Hines Ward is all pouty because Ben got what he wanted. Boo hoo, Hines. Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed are both incredible talents and only make the Appalachian Inbreds more dangerous. And they always seem to find a few gems on Day 2. As I have said for years, if the Browns want to be serious contenders they need to start beating the Steelers on a consistent basis. Until then it's all just talk.

The Bengals and Ravens drafts were a little more difficult to analyze. The Bengals a good LB in Keith Rivers of USC but them took a few guys with characters issues in the middle rounds. They also drafted a WR from Coastal Carolina before some of the bigger name, higher rated receivers. You just couldn't discern any direction in their selections.

The Ravens traded down and then back up to get Delaware QB Joe Flacco. All the videos of his gunning the ball deep were eerily similar to those of Kyle Boller throwing from his knees in his pre-draft videos. That didn't work out so well for them. They drafted a bunch of OL, WR and safeties, which they needed but no one stood out and made you say wow. Although, I think Tom Zbikowski will find a way to make some sort of contribution eventually.

And if I see any "Put Flacco on his Back-o. Hines licks Big Ben's sac-o." t-shirts I want the royalties. You saw it here first.

Go Browns!