Sunday, September 22, 2013

With their downtown playpens located a little more than a mile apart, the Indians and Browns, at this moment in time, offer a jarring juxtaposition of everything that is right-minded and appealing and everything that is wrong-headed and off-putting about professional sports franchises.
The baseball team is fun, entertaining and successful to the point it is on the verge of reaching the playoffs.
The football team is a brooding, secretive, multi-decade failure.
The baseball team, which has been to the playoffs seven times in the last 18 years — and perhaps a week away from making it eight times in 19 years — is desperate for fan support.
The football team, which has been to the playoffs once in the last 18 years — soon to be once in the last 19 years — is blindly worshipped by its adoring fans, no matter how bleak the season or how gruesome the games.
The baseball team's ownership and front office are held to impossibly high standards by its fan base.
The football team's fan base continues to give whatever current regime spins into town through the revolving door in a given year a free pass, refusing to hold any feet to the fire for poor decision making and mismanagement.
The baseball team said, "We're all in," by pushing the payroll envelope this year in signing some big-ticket free agents in hopes of winning back more fans by winning more games.
The football team said, "We're all out," by effectively throwing in the towel on the season by trading their best player just two games into the season, arrogantly, but rightfully unconcerned about any fan backlash. The fans will keep buying tickets. Why? Because they always do. No matter what.
The baseball team hired a high-profile, high-priced, highly experienced manager with two World Series rings and tons of credibility, then upgraded the roster significantly to give him a fighting chance.
The football team hired a rookie coach, then immediately undercut him by trading away the team's best player, turning the remaining 14 games into glorified scrimmages and giving the coach no chance at all.
The baseball team's manager, given his credentials, and the major roster upgrade orchestrated by the front office, was put by management in the enviable position of being allowed to do what he does best — be the leader of an energized, rejuvenated clubhouse of talented, hungry players.
The football team's first-year coach, obviously absent any head-coaching experience, lost some credibility among the players, through no fault of his own, when his bosses apparently decided the No. 3 quarterback should start ahead of the coach's designated No. 2 quarterback when the No. 1 quarterback got hurt. Not to mention putting the rookie coach in the untenable position of trying to lead a demoralized locker room filled with either veterans who can't be happy about management's decision to pull the plug on the season or young players wondering who the next ones out the door will be.
The baseball team is trying to win now.
The football team, after 13 virtually uninterrupted years of abject failure, has all but officially declared, "We're not taking this seriously until next year."
The baseball team's general manager, in good times and bad, is always readily available to the media, willing to be the face of the franchise — which is a major responsibility of the job — to speak publicly and answer any and all questions, whether there's news that day or not.
The football team almost never allows its general manager to speak in public.
The baseball team is owned by a local family, one of admittedly limited means — as judged on the scale of many owners of professional sports teams.
The football team is owned by an outsider, who paid $1 billion for the team, and whose other company is being investigated by the FBI.
It's never a good sign when a chapter in a book on the history of a sports team could be titled "The FBI Years".
-- How would you like to be Joe Thomas? In the last five years, his team's record is 23-57. He's been in the NFL six years, been to the Pro Bowl all six years, and now, two games into his seventh year, his team makes it known they don't intend to go all out to win until next year.
Way to waste the career of a Pro Bowl player at one of the hardest positions to find a Pro Bowl player.
-- That raises the question of why not trade Thomas? If you're bagging the season, then bag the season big time. The same principle that led to the decision to trade Trent Richardson absolutely applies to Joe Thomas.
Probably even more so.
Thomas is a Pro Bowl left tackle in the prime of his career. Trading him would give the Browns three first-round draft picks, all of which, you know, just to be safe, the Browns could use on quarterbacks.
-- The Browns clearly made the Richardson trade to acquire more ammunition with which to acquire their franchise quarterback next year. The only problem with that strategy is it's one thing to go looking for a franchise quarterback. It's another thing to actually find him — especially when those doing the looking will be the same group that in the last draft couldn't find a single player good enough to start on a 5-11 team.
-- I'm confused. Is Jason Campbell the backup quarterback or the backup backup quarterback?
-- Is it even possible to go back to square one when for more than 10 years you've been living in a condo on square one?
-- The Browns aren't the only team in Cleveland adept at striking out. In their 7-1 loss at Kansas City on Wednesday, the Indians struck out 17 times, equaling the club record for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
In that game the top four hitters in the Indians' lineup, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana combined to strike out 10 times in 15 at-bats.
Weak of the week
We have a tie between Astros infielder Jake Elmore, who pinch-ran in the 10th inning of a tie game Thursday against the Indians, and 10 seconds after entering the game got picked off second base.
That's tied with the play in Saturday's ohio State game in which Ohio State was at the Florida A&M 3-yard-line when a Florida A&M player intercepted a pass in the end zone, ran it out of the end zone, fumbled, and it was recovered by Ohio State at the 3-yard-line, right where the play began.
Weak. Very weak.
And weak, very weak.

Source: News-herald

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