The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Thoughts on Blogs

Posted by disappointmentzone on 30 April 2008

So there was a roundtable on HBO last night hosted by Bob Costas and dealing with sports media. One topic covered was The Blog (duh duh duhhhhh). On the right: Buzz Bissinger, vocal critic of blogs. On the left: Will Leitch, founder and editor of Deadspin, arguably the most influential blog in history. If you didn’t watch it here’s what you missed: Bissinger boiling to the point of hysteria over the flilth that is The Blog and how it’s a disgrace to the written language, and so on and so forth. There was nothing original about his position or his argument. It’s the same one you’ve heard countless other times in countless other forums. In fact, this anti-blog position is growing so tired I thought it would be worth breaking my blogging silence to help guide this misguided discussion.

First, you can be no more against blogs than you can be against paper or the printed press. A blog is a publishing platform. There is nothing inherently evil about the platform. Likewise, there is nothing inherently positive about the platform. The platform has no agency — it’s a platform. Whatever qualities critics like Bissinger apply to blogs apply to the content of blogs, not blogs themselves.

Furthermore, what distinguishes a blog from other forms of online media is a set of extremely loose guidelines that might be so loose as to be irrevocably vague. Has anyone tried to define what a blog is recently? Sure, we know one when we see one, thanks in large part to entities like Blogger and WordPress, both of whom are marketed as blogging tools. But what distinguishes a blog from, say, a person who publishes her poetry on her website? At one point it seemed like comments were a distinguishing feature of blogs. But there are highly successful blogs without comments (Andrew Sullivan, for example) and there are websites like the New York Times, the Gray Lady herself, that allow comments on editorials. Certainly “Blogger” isn’t on Frank Rich’s business card, but that’s only because his column is also published in the print edition of the NYT. Were that not the case he’d be a blogger.

Another feature of blogs seems to be timely updating. But The Disappointment Zone is proof enough that that’s no distinguishing criterion! Some blogs are updated 50 times a day. Others 50 times a year. How about the length of the post? Well, on one end you have Joe Poz, who will not hesitate to write 3000 words on 1987 nonroster invites to the Royals spring training, and on the other end you have something like Twitter, which at least looks blog-like, right?

If you push on the definition of ‘blog’ it quickly unravels into a category too broad to be useful. It’s certainly too broad to be the object of furor for someone like Bissinger.

So what’s really bothering Buzz?

Why, that’s simple: bad writing!

Buzz hates blog because so many of them are poorly written junk. Gee whiz, how novel. Let’s have nineteen more forums and spill fifty more gallons of ink bickering over something we all agree upon — bad writing is, um, bad.

The whole blog debate is a non-issue. But that doesn’t mean this ‘debate’ is benign. Far from it. This debate is distracting us from more pressing issues. Here’s one:

Loud mouths who won’t stop being annoying in public places like bars or stadium restrooms. Seriously. These people pose such a far greater threat to our civic virtue than blogs. You can’t navigate away from the person-equivalent of bad blogger. You can’t unsubscribe from his RSS feed. You can’t, you know, not look at his webpage. He’s just there, annoying the crap out of you, being a blowhard. Why can’t we have public forums on these doofuses?


Posted in Cleveland Sports | 5 Comments »

Remeber When The Cavs Were Good?

Posted by disappointmentzone on 12 April 2008

It seems like years since the Cavs looked like a legit contender to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Turns out it’s only been a year, and there’s video evidence in case you don’t believe me.

If you click here you can watch the entire Game 5 from last year’s ECF against the Pistons. This is LeBron’s 48-point game where he scored 29 of the Cavs’ last 30 points. It’s a nice trip down memory lane.

Posted in Cleveland Sports | 5 Comments »

Opening Day Genesis

Posted by disappointmentzone on 31 March 2008

I am usually loath to so blatantly steal from another website, but in the spirit of opening day I cannot help but quote the following in its entirety. To do any less would be to violate the word of God, or at least one man who seems to be particularly well-connected to him (or her). The historical validity of the following might be questionable. But its message does not err. To quote, then, from Glenn Birkemeier, by way of McSweeney’s, Opening Day Genesis:

“In the big inning, God created Heaven on Earth. And it was without form, and void. God separated the dirt from the grass. He called the grass Outfield and the dirt He called Infield. God made the Infield a 90-foot square and the Outfield not less than 400 feet to center and 320 feet down the lines. He declared this Fair Territory. All other territory, God then declared, was Foul.

And God divided the players into two teams of nine players each, under direction of a manager, to play The Game on His field. God called some of these players Pitchers and some of them Hitters. He placed a Pitcher precisely 60 feet 6 inches from a Hitter. Then God commanded that it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the ol’ Ballgame.

And God granted jurisdiction of The Game to lesser Gods, whom He called Umpires. God said the Umpires are infallible, blessed with Heavenly authority, whose judgment is not to be questioned under penalty of expulsion from The Game. And God looked at his creation and He was pleased. Then God created the Infield Fly Rule to confuse nonbelievers.

And God said, Let there be light beer, and there was. And, God said, let there be peanuts and hot dogs and overpriced souvenirs and let there be frosty chocolate malts with little wooden spoons that you can buy nowhere else except at this Heaven, which God called a Ballpark, and there was. God looked at His creation and it was good.

And the Lord God formed, from the dust, a collection of elite players in His own image. The Lord God then breathed the breath of life into His creation. God called this creation the National League.

And God said, It is not good for the National League to be alone. The Lord God shall make it a mate. And thus, while the National League slept, God took several of its top players and created the American League.

And God blessed The Game, saying, Be fruitful and multiply. Put teams in every city with deserving fans, God added, even if this occurs at the expense of starting-pitching depth.

From time to time, God understood, The Game would be corrupted by the Serpent. The Serpent was more cunning than any other beast and he would take many wicked forms: the Black Sox, segregation, the Designated Hitter, the Reserve Clause, dead balls, juiced balls, spit balls, corked bats, George Steinbrenner, AstroTurf, the 1981 strike, collusion, lockouts, Pete Rose, the 1994 strike, greenies, cocaine, HGH, Andro, steroids, $20 parking, corporate mallparks, Scott Boras, Donald Fehr, and Bud Selig.

But, God said, the goodness in The Game shall always prevail. As needed, the Lord shall bestow upon The Game a Savior. And the Savior, like the Serpent, can take many forms. The Savior shall remind Fans how blessed The Game truly is. The Savior shall be called by many names, including Cy, Matty, Honus, Big Train, the Babe, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Lou Gehrig, Branch Rickey, Jackie Robinson, Buck O’Neil, Hank Greenberg, Red Barber, Harry Carey, Vin Scully, Jack Buck, Satchel Paige, Bill Veeck, Roberto Clemente, Ernie Banks, Hammerin’ Hank, Cool Papa, Dizzy, Lefty, Whitey, Stan the Man, Big Klu, the Say Hey Kid, Campy, Duke, the Mick, the Splendid Splinter, the Gas House Gang, the Big Red Machine, the Damn Yankees, Pudge Fisk, Pudge Rodriguez, Yaz, Pops, the Wizard of Oz, Fernando, George Brett, Moonlight Graham, Roy Hobbs, Wild Thing Vaughn, Bingo Long, the Ryan Express, Donnie Baseball, Rickey, Eck, the Big Unit, the Cactus League, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn, Camden Yards, Rotisserie Drafts, Web Gems, Derek Jeter, Dontrelle Willis, Vlad Guerrero, and, from the Far East, Ichiro. And, God guaranteed, there are many more to come.

God looked upon His creation and He was very pleased. And God spoke, yelling, PLAY BALL!”

Posted in Cleveland Indians | 1 Comment »

The Cavs: Now 50% More Glamorous

Posted by disappointmentzone on 23 February 2008

Thanks, Wally!


Posted in Cleveland Sports | 6 Comments »

WP: Hughes vs. Wallace

Posted by disappointmentzone on 21 February 2008

Like I said in the post below, this blockbuster three-team eleven-player trade is essentially two trades for the Cavs, with the centerpiece being Larry Hughes for Ben Wallace. How do these two players stack up?

As of January 31st, Larry Hughes had a Wins Produced per 48 minutes of -0.080. This ranked him 434 out of the 446 players in the NBA. Yes, Larry Hughes is that bad. How he’s a starter on a contending team is baffling, but I guess the universe straightened everything out because he’ll now be a starter on a non-contending team, a role usually played by those who are one of the 20 worst players in the league.

As of January 31st, Ben Wallace had a Wins Produced per 48 minutes of .162. This ranked him 53rd in the NBA.

According to Wins Produced the margin between Hughes and Wallace is nearly as wide as the entire NBA. I would say the extra million the Cavs have to pay Wallace instead of Hughes is the most cost-effective extra million dollars being spent in the NBA this season.

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers | 2 Comments »

Oh Glorious Day!

Posted by disappointmentzone on 21 February 2008

Rejoice be those who suffered through The Hughes Era only to escape into the warm embrace of a dominating interior defender, an able-bodied outside shooter, a cheap veteran who can provide a lift off the bench, and a promising young point guard!

Danny Ferry may have dug the Cavs into contract hell in the summer of 2005 when he signed Larry Hughes to that abomination of a contract. There is no doubt that the encyclopedia entry on The Contract Year will forever include a picture of Larry Hughes. But no longer will that entry also reference the idiotic general manager who fell for the inflated contract years numbers, ignoring the shaky past and dreaming of an unreachable future — and then offering a ridiculous contract with that future in mind.

Many general managers have signed players to outlandish contracts. Danny Ferry is no exception here. Where he gains his notoriety is dumping that outlandish contract on another team — a division rival no less! — and in return acquiring, well, another player signed to an outlandish contract, plus a few other attractive pieces. The key difference between Ben Wallace and Larry Hughes, though, is that Wallace can actually help the Cavs win whereas Hughes almost always helped the Cavs lose. So let’s talk about this trade in terms of where the Cavs made gains and where the Cavs lost ground.

Just so we are clear:

Cavs get: Ben Wallace, Wally Szcerbiak, Joe Smith, Delonte West, Second Round Draft Pick

Cavs lose: Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons, Ira Newble, Donyell Marshall

Or, to put it more simply:

Larry Hughes –> Ben Wallace

Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons, Ira Newble, Donyell Marshall –> Joe Smith, Wally Szcerbiak, Delonte West, Second Round Draft Pick

That’s really how you should look at these trades. Hughes and his contract are essentially replaced by Ben Wallace and his contract. Gooden et al are essentially replaced by the other guys. If you like both of those options then you should like this trade.

Now, more detailed thoughts…

* The Cavs improved their interior defense. With Wallace, Ilgausaks, and Varejao the Cavs have ample size, ample strength, and ample speed inside. Wallace is quick enough to pair with Ilgauskas inside and strong enough to pair with Varejao inside, meaning the Cavs have no bad interior defensive lineups. Wallace also provides the Cavs with an intimidating interior presence. He will never be the Charles Oakley to LeBron’s Micheal Jordan, but he’s about as close as you can get in the NBA today to that sort of tough-minded, tough-bodied defense. Teams will have to think twice before hacking at LBJ.

* With the improved interior defense comes improved overall defense. Gooden was always a spotty defender and Hughes had lost a lot on the defensive end since joining Cleveland three years ago. (Besides, it’s hard to defend someone when you’re wearing a suit on the bench, where Hughes found himself quite a bit.) Hughes gave the Cavs the benefit of being a bigger guard and neither Wally or Pavlovic will be able to truly replace him, but increasingly we’ve seen LeBron step up to take the hardest guard/forward defensive assignment. Three years ago losing Hughes would have definitely meant losing the Cavs’ best defense option for opposing guards and forwards. That’s not necessarily true anymore. Also, Delonte West is no joke as a defender.

* On offense the team can now redistribute the 10-15 usually unsuccessful shot attempts from Hughes among a cadre of quality shooters and scorers. With apologies to Daniel Gibson (and the self-proclaimed best shooter in the world, Damon Jones), Wally finally gives the Cavs the true shooter they’ve been looking to pair with LBJ for years. He should be able to free up some space for LeBron or punish teams for trying to double team him. Delonte West gives the Cavs a true point guard, something they’ve been looking to add for the last two years. West may ultimately end up being the best part of this trade.

* Wally is a free agent after next season so the Cavs will be able to shop him and his expiring contract for another compliment to LeBron.

* The Cavs still have Eric Snow and Damon Jones and their expiring contracts to shop this offseason or next season for another compliment to LeBron.

* Ben Wallace comes off the book in two years, which is also when Hughes was going to come off the books for the Cavs. There is no net loss here. Many of the rumors flying around last night had the Cavs acquiring someone with a terrible contract extending beyond two more years, someone like Vince Carter. That was taken to be the price the Cavs were going to have to pay to rid themselves of Larry Hughes. That not being the case should be applauded… and then studied closely because no one in their right mind would have thought it possible.

* One troubling aspect of this trade is that with fewer than 30 games remaining in the regular season the Cavs have just traded away 40% of their starting lineup. Slotting in one new player is usual. Slotting in two new starters is not. It’s not like Mike Brown as been around long enough to know how to deal with this.

* Of course, with all the injuries it’s probably fair to say that the Cavs have yet to have their ideal starting lineup and that replacing two more starters isn’t going to be a huge issue. The Cavs have been making due all season. This is no different.

* The EC is now:

Everyone Else.

That’s certainly an improvement on where things stood twelve hours ago. Based on that, this trade is a success.

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers | 5 Comments »

LZ Granderson on Brady Quinn

Posted by disappointmentzone on 18 February 2008

LZ Granderson has a thoughtful and passionate take on the recent Brady Quinn gay bashing incident that has not received as much attention as probably should be warranted. Quinn has denied being involved in the New Years Eve incident — even though police officers put him at the scene, as did the man who called 911.

Here is a key section of the column:

I understand commissioner Roger Goodell’s plate is a little full right now with Spygate and all, but if he’s serious about cleaning up his league, the topic of homophobia in the NFL needs to be included in that conversation. It doesn’t matter if he or I or any of you believe homosexuality is a choice or not. There’s a little something called respect for human life that should supersede the rules commonly found on the playground.

Since we’re on the topic of Goodell, there is something wildly inconsistent about his stance regarding player behavior as it affects the NFL’s image and his stance regarding his office’s actions as it affects the NFL’s image. Arlan Specter ought to focus his attention on more pressing issues, but he’s right when he draws attention to the curious response from the Goodell’s office regarding Spygate. Spygate goes straight to the integrity of the games. Integrity is best ensured by transparency. Destroying evidence does the opposite. This is certainly more damning than the misguided and potentially criminal behavior of some NFL athletes as far as the league’s standing is concerned.

Posted in Cleveland Browns | 4 Comments »


Posted by disappointmentzone on 17 February 2008

On Friday night Daniel Gibson made 11 three pointers in the Rookie Challenge, earning him the MVP. On Saturday night Gibson finished second in the [Corporation I Don’t Remember] Three Point Shootout, losing to former Cavalier Jason Kapono (should have protected him!). On Sunday night LeBron James led the Eastern Conference All Stars to victory, going for 27/8/9 and winning the MVP. All told the Cavaliers represented quite well in the mid-winter classic.

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers | 2 Comments »

Sabathia To Cleveland: I’m Just Not That In To You

Posted by disappointmentzone on 14 February 2008

Last night on his official website CC Sabathia posted the following message:

This off-season, through my representatives at Legacy Sports Group, I have discussed the possibility of a contract extension with the Cleveland Indians. At this time, we haven’t been able to reach agreement. Now that the reporting date for spring training is here, it is time to put aside contract discussions so that I can focus all of my energies and attention on preparing for the upcoming season.

Wave goodbye to Sabathia, Cleveland.

And wave hello to trade speculation.

We’ll never know if he ever seriously considered a contract extension this winter but what’s clear is that he’s intent on testing the free agency market, where he’ll likely be commanding a salary in the $150M range, far exceeding any amount the Indians could pay him. But this much is clear: Sabathia could have signed an extension with the Indians if he really wanted to stay here. He’s making a gamble by waiting another year before signing a new contract. If he seriously injures himself he’ll face the harrowing prospect that he forewent a major contract offer from the only professional franchise he’s ever known.

Not that we wish the guy serious injury. We still need him to win the World Series.

Posted in Cleveland Indians | 3 Comments »

Back To Normal

Posted by disappointmentzone on 12 February 2008

Call me Mitt Romney because I’m switching my position to pander to my audience. Rather than integrate media stuff into a Cleveland sports blog (really, what was I thinking?) it makes much more sense to just start a new blog. Which I’ve done. From hereon out The Disappointment Zone will be back to how it was before I had that brain fart and you can read my film/television ramblings over at The Dark Room, which I encourage you to visit, bookmark, and subscribe to.

Disappointment Zone: Cleveland sports

The Dark Room: Film and stuff

Never the twain shall meet (starting….now)

Posted in Cleveland Sports | 1 Comment »