Thursday, November 5, 2009

Losing the Blue Jackets?

The Columbus Dispatch printed an article today stating that the local hockey team was losing 12 million dollars a year. The culprit is a bad arena lease. It is a possibility that the team will move if their financial needs are not met. What is a fan of the team to think?

This is typical for professional sports today. Cities have to ante up in order to keep teams viable. And why not? After all, cities will tax the players so as to gin income for the city coffers. Businesses in the Arena District thrive because of the Blue Jackets (just look at the restaurants and their business on a game night). The Blue Jackets foundation gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to charity. All of this and more will be lost if the team moves. The city and county can keep the Arena District thriving, with businesses open and people employed at these businesses by putting the pieces of the puzzle together to keep the local shinny team in Columbus.

As for me, I am not going to worry about it. You see, there is nothing I can do. I don't live in Columbus or Franklin County, so if there is an election held on this issue, I wouldn't get a vote or voice. So I will sit on the sidelines, and leave the worrying to those in office up in Columbus. They know what they have now in the Jackets, and they know what they will stand to lose if the team leaves. It makes too much sense to get some deal done to keep the team here. My wife says not to borrow worry. So why worry? There is nothing I can do about the situation. Let the money people work it out. And if they don't, they will embarrass themselves and the region.

The Yankees Win Another One

So the New York Yankees have won another world championship. Whoop Dee Do! Shouldn't they win the championship? Just look at their payroll. The Yankees have bought a championship for $280 million dollars. To put this into some perspective, the Yankees' payroll is almost 1/3 TRILLION DOLLARS! The Red Sox are close behind. With a player payroll of over 150 million dollars, shouldn't you win the championship EVERY SINGLE YEAR? The Yankees win is not newsworthy. A Red Sox championship or for that matter any big market championship in baseball is not newsworthy. SPENDING THAT AMOUNT OF MONEY, THEY SHOULD WIN!

I find it interesting that the fans of these big market teams will justify these payrolls because they have more media revenue and have larger attendance figures (they DO have a larger metropolitan area to draw from) and even thumb their nose at fans of smaller market clubs when the cry goes forth for revenue sharing. So, here is an idea, why not just put the Yankees and Red Sox and other big market teams in their own league? Why not just let the Yankees play inter squad games so that they can claim their own championship? Let the Red Sox compete with the Red Sox! Give them their own intramural championship trophy. And then let the mid to small market teams such as Cleveland, St. Louis, and others compete for the World Series, if the big market teams don't want to share revenue or resources to a greater extent than they are now, so as to level the playing field, then give them their own championship. It would be worth as much as the championship we saw awarded last night.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Magic of Manchester United

The football club that is Man U is magical. Down 3-1 today they rallied with six minutes to go to pull out a tie and go through to the next level of Champions League play. I have been fortunate to be able to see Chelsea play in 2002, I have seen Rangers and Hearts play in 2002 and in 2008. Locally, I am able to follow the Crew (while I haven't made a match this year due to my schedule. However, the play of Man U over the past few years under the leadership of Sir Alex has been astounding. They always seem to be in the hunt for whatever the championship and the comeback today is nothing short of amazing. Indeed, it is magical.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blowing Up The Browns

Earlier on this blog I advocated blowing up the Cleveland Indians and starting over as an organization. Well, guess what, it is time to blow up the Browns. The present edition of the Cleveland Browns, while they may be nice people, is an EMBARRASSMENT TO ALL FANS OF THE ONCE PROUD FRANCHISE. Think of it, here we are on November 2, and the Yankees are on the threshold of winning their 27th championship. The Browns used to be the Yankees of professional football. When I was young, the Browns were always on top of their division, contending for the NFL Championship. Before I was born, they were the class of all football franchises. But not anymore. They have become an embarrassment and a joke.

It is hard to watch a Browns game, knowing that if the opponent scores a touchdown, the Browns have already lost the game! My son and I have plans on going to the next game, on Monday night football November 16 against the Ravens. Shall we wear bags over our heads? With the sorry state of this franchise, do we publicly admit our embarrassment?

Today the Browns fired their GM, George Kokinis. In my mind, they should have cleaned house, Mangini needs to go as well. Then they need to get top notch football people in the organization to rebuild this once proud franchise. If someone knows what he is doing, it should take long to rebuild. Sadly, it looks as if Mangini doesn't have a clue.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's Wrong with the Cavs?

Here we are, game two of an 82 game marathon, and the Cavs have lost to Boston in game one, and are in danger, as I write this, of losing to the Raptors. Two losses in a row is not the way to start the season, but patience is in order. Others have observed that the Cavs need more time to jell, to get used to playing with Shaq, to get used to playing without West, etc. I think all of that is true to a certain extent. But there is one thing that I have noticed in the first two games, is that Lebron seems to be deferring to Shaq on the offensive end. I know that Lebron is the Cavs' best player and playmaker, but his role is to be the best player on the floor, not to make certain that Shaq is the best player on the floor. Lebron needs to take charge and begin to take matters into his own hands. When he wants to, he is the most dominating player in the NBA. It is time for Lebron to show he is the best player and become the focal point of the Cavs offense. Your best player needs to be your best player. Lebron is the best player, not Shaq, so let Lebron be Lebron and Shaq adjust his role to supplement Lebron.

Are You World Serious?

Here it is the first game of the World Series, and I am not interested. A baseball fan like me SHOULD be watching the game, after all, the two former Cy Young Award winning Indians are throwing to start off the series. But I can't get into it. Is it because the Tribe traded away their two best pitchers (CC and Lee) and got little in return? Perhaps. Is it because the Yankees are playing and I hate the Yankees? Maybe. But more likely it is the fact that the Series is starting on October 28. Are you serious? October 28 is the middle of the NFL season, the end of the high school football season, it is the beginning of the hockey and basketball seasons. There is something wrong with October 28 being the start of the World Series. THE SERIES SHOULD BE CONCLUDING ON OCTOBER 28, NOT JUST BEGINNING.

Now, I know why the Series is starting so late, it is in large part because the regular season lasts as long as it does. The regular season is 162 games, no double headers scheduled, so that MLB clubs can maximize their ticket sales in order to pay the salaries of their respective ball clubs. But something has to be done to shorten the season so that the Series can end by October 28. How about day and night doubleheaders, where there are individual ticket sales for both games? A four game weekend series can be shortened to four games in three days, thereby giving the ball player the day off that he needs. I would even start the season earlier, at the end of March, and risk a possible snow out rather than begin a World Series at the end of October. f

MLB can thank the good Lord that two major markets are competing for the baseball world championship, because if it was anyone else other than Philly, LA, Boston or NY, their TV ratings would be in the tank. I predict that the ratings will be respectable only because it is the Yankees that are playing in the World Series. If I were a betting man, many can't get into a World Series that starts October 28. Hey, college basketball begins in a couple of weeks! Baseball should be over by this time of year. If there was any justice, bad weather will plaque the East Coast, weather that would be fitting to the time of year that it is, Fall going into Winter. Interested in the World Series? This year? Are you serious? I would rather watch the Blue Jackets and the Browns. Well, maybe not the Browns, but you get the idea.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Value of Vermette

Can you tell that I finally have some time to write on the blogs?

I have been wanting to write about one of my favorite winter sports: hockey. I have had the opportunity to watch many of the Blue Jacket games early this season, and I have noticed the play of Antione Vermettte. Vermette, a center, has had the difficult task of playing on the second line for the Jackets. I have concluded that playing on the second line has to be one of the most demanding positions in all of hockey, night in and night out.

Let me try to explain it in these terms:

In sports, coaches want to put their best defense men on the opposing teams top offensive threats. In hockey, this means that the third line is your checking and/or defensive line. Coaches, when at home, have the opportunity to match up their lines with the opposition. For example, the visitors have to put their players on the ice first, then the home team can put their players on, thereby matching up with the opponent. When the visitors put out their top offensive players (their first line) the home team will match up with the third line (their top defensive players) in an attempt to shut down the opponents.

When playing on the road tonight, the Jackets will start their first line with Rick Nash, and the Oilers will counter with their third line. Make sense? The Jackets put out their offensive players, the Oilers match up with their best defensive players.

Where does this leave the players on the second line? Who will Antione Vermette, Jake Voracek, and RJ Umberger play against? Probably the top offensive players for the Oilers, which puts the Jackets at a disadvantage, one would think. But that is hockey, it is the rules and one of the advantages of being the home team. Vermette and his team mates playing on his line MUST BE ALL AROUND GOOD HOCKEY PLAYERS. Tonight, they will have to play great defense for the Jackets to win.

Conversely, when the Jackets are at home, Vermette will be matched up against the visitors second line, or comparable players. The point is this: In hockey, the second line has to play against great all around competition night in and night out. It is so important to get great hockey from your second line, and the Jackets are getting it so far this season. This is a major factor in their early season success.

Of course, this all is for naught if the goaltender plays like a sieve. Fortunately, the Jackets have been getting good goal tending as well. If these things continue, look for a real good season for the men in the blue sweaters.

Tonight the CBJ plays Edmonton. It is on FSN Ohio at 9:30. I will be watching and rooting the Jackets on, of course, but also paying attention to Antione Vermette and his line tonight. The success of the Jackets tonight hinges, in large part, on their good play.

The Managerial Search

News reports say that the Indians are presently conducting interviews with their managerial candidates. Acta, Valentine, Mattingly, and Louvello are supposed to be the final four. Don Mattingly would be at the top of my list, followed by Chris Chambliss (who doesn't seem to be on anyone's radar), Mike Hargrove (who is out of the running), Travis Fryman, Acta, Louvello, and Valentine. Why would Valentine be last on my list when he has the most experience? I just don't think he fits. He is a journey man manager, not having done anything of note in my book. A big name, yes, but unimpressive. Mattingly, Chambliss, and Fryman would bring differing perspectives, all three were all star ball players and played in winning organizations. I think it would be beneficial to bring a perspective of a former Yankee in Mattingly and Chambliss. Chambliss was an excellent batting coach before he became a manager. Fryman is a class act all the way around who knows baseball. From what I understand of Manny Acta, he too is a class act who didn't have any talent in Washington. That being said, Acta would feel right at home with the Tribe, who didn't have any pitching to speak of last season and fielded a AAA team the last few months of the season. Whoever the new manager is, I wish him good luck. Man, will he need it. Probably a few prayers wouldn't hurt as well.

The 2009-2010 Cleveland Cavaliers

I attended the exhibition game last night at Value City Arena, against the Celtics. It is hard to have any lasting impressions after this game. It really didn't tell us much about the Cavs. I certainly believe that they will be a contender for the NBA crown (man, I hope so after watching this team for 40 years) but last night didn't tell us much if anything. The players were getting their workout in. West didn't play, and the intensity wasn't there on the part of the Cavs. I will admit that the Celtics looked very good, and it is scary to think how good they will be because Kevin Garnett didn't play last night, but it was, after all a PRACTICE game. The results didn't mean a thing. We'll learn more about the Cavs next week. But it was still fun to see them play, an enjoyable night out with the kids, and to top it off, Rachel and Charles were on kiss cam!

The Future of the Cleveland Browns

The future success of the Cleveland Browns hinges, not on who will play quarterback, but on who they will draft in the upcoming draft. The most important people on the Browns staff right now are the scouts, who will seek out talent to play on this team. This year's edition of the Browns are woefully lacking in talent. I can only think of six players who would be considered possible Pro Bowl players at their positions. I can not emphasize enough the simple truth that the Browns need more talent.

So, what kind of talent or positions should the scouts be looking at and considering? If I were the GM, I would place an emphasis on offensive and defensive linemen and linebackers. If you can control the trenches, your football team will look and be more competitive. An offensive line that can open holes will make running backs look good. An offensive line that will give the quarterback time to throw will create opportunities to move the football. A defensive line and linebackers that can stop the run and rush the passer will take the heat off of the secondary.

So the moral of the story is this.... draft quality linemen and linebackers and you will see this team improve exponentially. Sadly, though, we must suffer through another woeful season.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How Did That Happen?

The Browns won, today! Finally! The Browns beat the Bills 6-3. I don't know how they did it, but they did it! Yippee!

Derek Anderson passed for 23 yards FOR THE GAME. His passing average was 1.4 yards per pass. I might add that this is 23 yards more than I had AND I DIDN'T EVEN PLAY OR WATCH THE GAME.

Again, I don't know how they did it, but they did it!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Teams Finally Have Won!

In an unprecedented move by the commissioners of the NHL, NFL, NBA, and MLB have all awarded the teams from Cleveland and Columbus Ohio the Championships in their respective sports. Citing the recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, the commissioners unanimously awarded the Lombardi Trophy to the Browns, The Commissioner's Trophy to the Indians, the Larry O'Brien Trophy to the Cavaliers, and the Stanley Cup to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Fans of these teams were ecstatic, however it is understood that the fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes are petitioning the NCAA for a similar ruling for the 2009-2010 football season.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Break into the Big Time?

As you know, I have been doing color commentary for the Fairfield Christian Academy football games this fall. Tomorrow night I will be expanding my horizons, as I will be a sideline reporter. The game is against South Gallia High School down in Crown City, Ohio. As I understand it, the stadium is a stone's throw from the Ohio River. It should be a picturesque setting and a lot of fun.

I can just picture my first interview from the sidelines:

"I am here speaking with freshman Mark Davidson. Mark, tell me what happened out there tonight......"

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The New Season

As one sport comes to an end (baseball) another begins (hockey). As much as I dislike winter, with the cold, snow, shorter days and lack of sunlight, the winter months go by much quicker with the sport of hockey.

Now I grew up playing basketball, but I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the coolest game on ice. Mind you, I couldn't skate a lick, but I was mesmerized when my sainted father took me to my first hockey game at the old Cleveland Arena. I remember it well, snow was falling, and the Cleveland Barons were playing the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. The Barons were a farm team of the Canadians and were owned by Al Suphin. The NHL had six teams then but the Barons were considered the best 7th team in the NHL, that is to say, they were so good they could have played in the NHL but were an AHL team.

I remember the game being lightening fast, graceful, and physical. In those days chicken wire surrounded the rink (now there is Plexiglas) and fights on the ice were plentiful. If the players got too close to the chicken wire, you could see fans trying to intervene by grabbing an opponent by the hair so that the home town hero would win the battle. Cleveland didn't have an NBA team then, so hockey was the sport of passion and preference in the early 1960's.

As I grew up, I followed the Barons, then the Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA, and then the NHL Cleveland Barons in the 1970's. Cleveland was a great hockey town, but the NHL placed a crummy team in Cleveland in the NHL Barons (imagine this year's Washington Nationals in baseball) and the team was never marketed properly. Hockey died in Cleveland but my love for the sport remained.

When I went to Seminary I attended a few Fort Wayne Komet games, and on vicarage I was able to follow the St. Louis Blues. To see the Blues play in the Old Checkerdome is a memory I will cherish, as the Checkerdome was an old hockey "barn" in the truest sense.

I was thrilled when the BlueJackets were born in Columbus, and to see the team birthed and then transformed into a playoff contender is satisfying. My daughter Emily has begun to share my joy in hockey, and for her birthday the entire family is going to the opener against Minnesota. Saturday will bring back memories, of a dad who loved to take his son to a hockey game in Cleveland, and will hopefully begin new memories for my Emily and the rest of the family. Some families enjoy going to movies. Others like going to the play. We go to ball games, or hockey games, and I for one am looking forward to Saturday night.

The Last Home Game

Well the last home game of a dismal season is over for our beloved Featherheads. What did we learn? We learned that this team was a bunch of underacheivers. It had little starting pitching outside of Cliff Lee, a bullpen from Hades, a one armed DH who gave new meaning to warning track power, a gimpy center fielder, a manager who loved utility players, and in the end, a team of minor leaguers learning to play the game of major league baseball. What does the future hold? Hope always springs eternal, and there will be new hope this winter as a new manager is hired.

But the more things change, the more they remain the same. This team is woefully short of starting pitching. There is a lack of a number one and two starter and it remains to be seen how the bullpen sorts out next spring. If these last two home games have taught us anything, they have served to reinforce the VALUE of starting pitching. You need a starting staff that will get the team into the seventh inning. That's for starters. Without that, all hope is lost for a winning season.

If I were the Indians brass, I would trade Peralta for even more pitching, send Santana to the winter league to work on his ability to handle a pitching staff, and work with Carmona and Masterson in the off season so that they will develop into the starting pitchers that the Fans of Cleveland hope to have in order to contend in 2010. Hope springs eternal, only if you have starting pitching.

Eric Wedge

So Wedge is fired. I never want to see anyone lose his job. However, I am happy with this move. I understand that Wedge knew about this move for a few days, which goes to show what a class act he is. He has conducted himself in the past few days in a professional manner. He is a class act, too bad he couldn't maximize his talent. STO says not to be surprised if Wedge gets the Atlanta job. Good luck, Eric Wedge. And please, Indians, win.

Anderson it is!

The Browns today names Derek Anderson the starter for Sunday. Ink stained wretches (and others) will say that this move will harm Brady Quinn's development, that it will "mess with his head." As much money as these QBs make, they can deal with it. It is all about competition. And as I mentioned in my previous post, I really don't care who starts. I just want the Browns to win. Seeing as they have started the season with three losses, and have looked terrible in each loss, it can't get any worse. As a fan, I just want my team to win. Anderson, Quinn, I don't care who the QB is, just win. Please.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

DA vs. Brady

The present quarterback controversy in Cleveland, involving Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, is really a non issue in my mind. Why? Because I really don't care who starts, I just want the team to win. So it doesn't matter to me who starts and plays, all I want to see is a Browns Super Bowl season. It is a stretch to believe that this will happen this year, but we always have faith.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Memory Lane

Watching the Tribe attempt to play baseball and field a winning team this season is truely a trip down memory lane. When I was a boy.....

I have rooted for the Tribe since 1959 ( I was born in 56, so I figure that 59 would be my earliest memory). My favorite player was Rocky Colavito. I mimicked his mannerisms, from the way he stretched in the on deck circle by putting his bat behind his back, to the way he pointed the bat at the pitcher when he was in the batter's box. I was heartbroken when Trader Frank Lane traded the Rock to Detroit, and rejoiced when he returned to Cleveland later in his career.

I learned early on as an Indians fan that players come and go, and more often than not, good players leave and cheaper, more inexpensive players take their place. The replacements may not be better, but they have Indians across their chest and they become one of our own.

I learned that baseball season started in February when hopes were high and ended in June when the Indians were out of contention. Players would be traded to contenders and fans would then look forward to football season in late June.

Some things never change, do they? My kids are tired of hearing me say that these Indians are just like the Indians of my youth. And they are, from the way they play the game, to the trades that they make. Yes, as you can tell, I am presently underwhelmed by the Cliff Lee trade. As fans we can only hope for the best, because the present is so discouraging.

Yes, this 2009 season is just like a trip down memory lane. The only difference is that we are looking forward to a potential championship from the Cavs and not the Browns. The Indians potential challenge for a championship is now put off for a couple of years. For a Cy Young Award winner we get four minor league players, the centerpiece of the deal having not pitched in a while because of a tired shoulder.

I think I have watched this rerun before.

It seems that if you are an Indians fan, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blowing Up The Tribe

What do we do with these Indians? Picked by some to make the playoffs, they now reside in the bottom of the AL standings. As a lifelong fan, I suggest to blow up the Tribe as they are currently constructed. My suggestions:

Keep Mark Shapiro conditionally. Shapiro has done a good job of talent evaluation from other organizations, but a lousy job drafting and developing home grown players. Besides Victor Martinez, who is on this roster that is homegrown (drafted and developed by the organization) AND making an impact at the Major League level? If I were running the Tribe, I would seriously look at overhauling the scouting department, and place more value in drafting and developing high school players, as they have more of an upside than college players.

Fire Eric Wedge. Wedge consistently does NOT have the team ready to roll coming out of Spring Training. Under Wedge, the Indians have been consistently a team slow getting out of the gate. The one time they started the season by winning 10 of their first 11, they didn't make the playoffs. The one time they need to win a game or two to make the playoffs, they couldn't. The one time they needed to win a game to get to the World Series, they didn't. This team has under performed under his leadership. It is time for Wedge to go.

Trade trade trade. Peralta, Pavano, Garko, and bring up the kids, such as Gator for God ( the twitter name of Matt Laporta), Andy Marte (yes the same Andy Marte who has failed in previous attempts), and Micheal Bradley. See what the kids and do and give them experience now.

Keep Lee and Martinez, unless the price is right. If a team will not overpay for these guys, keep them for next year.

Develop, trade, beg, borrow, and steal for Pitching, Pitching, and more Pitching. Pitching is the name of the game. Find starters that will go deep into the game, rely on them rather than a bullpen to pitch four or more scoreless innings. I remember when Billy Martin was manager of the Oakland A's, he worked his starters deep into the game. Why? Because they were his best pitchers. Guys in the bullpen are there for a reason, because they can't last longer than an inning or two. Find guys who can do deep into a game and rely on them.

Let your best players play. In search of flexibility, Eric Wedge has turned everyday players into utility players. Only recently has he gone with a set lineup, yes, I know that there were injuries, but seriously, have you seen Ryan Garko play the outfield? He makes me yearn for the days of Leon Wagner.

Be patient Tribe fans. Why? Because we have waited so long for a winner, I am willing to wait for the Tribe to get it all together at sometime in the near future. Well, after all, as a minister I am supposed to be a man of faith.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to Make Soccer Popular in the States

Soccer is a great sport. I like watching it, my favorite teams are the Columbus Crew, Arbroath Red Litchies, Glasgow Rangers, and a few EPL teams thrown in just for good measure. I want to see soccer succeed and grow in the States. If there is one thing that will make soccer popular in the States, it will be legalized gambling. What? A minister in favor of gambling? Well, not exactly. I don't advocate gambling, in fact, I don't like to gamble, with the exception of the occasional lottery ticket for the kids at Christmas in the stocking. I really believe that gambling for the sake of gambling is a sin (because you are being a terrible manager of the money the Good Lord gave to you). But for the sake of discussion, if those in the leadership positions of US Soccer want to really make it popular, push for the ability to bet on soccer games in the States.

Just look at what happens in the United Kingdom. Betting parlors are on every street corner, beckoning the punter to lose his wages. Go to a soccer match, and you will find gambling kiosks INSIDE the stadiums. The lines to bet are sometimes longer than the beverages lines! I know and understand that soccer is in the DNA of those fans who live in the UK, but I also know that betting on soccer is EXTREMELY POPULAR. I suspect one reason why the fans in the UK are so passionate about their teams and sport is because they have money riding on the games that they are watching.

It isn't a stretch to say that a reason why sports are popular in the States is because of the ability to gamble. Baseball has its fantasy leagues where prizes are awarded to the top teams. College and pro football games are popular to bet on (note the line which is published in the sports pages), and March Madness has its office pools. People follow these sports because of the games they play with their money in following the sports. Why should soccer be any different?

So if you want soccer to become popular in the States, do what they do in the UK. Allow the fans to bet on the games. Now, to be certain, you won't find me in the betting lines ready to lose my money. But I wouldn't be surprised that if sports gambling were legalized, that soccer would become a most popular sport.

You can bet on it.

Hi Sports Fans

It's the Minister of Sports. I am an ordained clergyman who happens to like sports. No, I don't love sports, that would be breaking the First Commandment (Don't have any other gods besides Me), but I do like sports. So I will be writing on sports, all things sports, things that interest me, and hopefully you. With the Good Lord's blessing, maybe something will come of this. And if you like this, visit my other blog: Lutheran On A Mission.