The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for August, 2006

Belle in jail

Posted by disappointmentzone on 24 August 2006

Though his life has been on a fairly steady decline since his days as a Cleveland Indian (and, truth be told, his life never really reach any enviable heights), Joey Albert Belle may have reached a new low this afternoon when he was sentenced to three months in jail and five years supervised probation.

The reason he’s in jail?

Stalking his ex-girlfriend (a former escort). Belle was first arrested in February, but then was rearrested in May after he contacted his girlfriend despite the restraining order. But that’s not even the strangest part of the story. This all began in January when Belle’s girlfriend found on the ground near her car a Global Positioning Device that Belle had clandestinely installed on her car to track her.

Belle’s an ass.

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Posted in Cleveland Indians | 1 Comment »

Frye and Edwards, with a dash in Winslow

Posted by disappointmentzone on 24 August 2006

Jeffri Chadiha wrote a nice, short profile of the emerging relationship between Charlie Frye and Braylon Edwards yesterday for SI.com. “The second-year players spent an entire offseason getting to know each other in Cleveland, and there’s a good chance that time together will pay major dividends during the regular season.” Edwards, as you know, is coming off of season-ending ACL surgery, but his rehab is on schedule and there is already talk that he could return as soon as the first week of the season.

Frye...I’m not the biggest Frye enthusiast (What is the proper term for those who support Frye? Frye guys? Frye fans? Is there a term that doesn’t make one sound like an ass? Because Frye enthusiast certainly isn’t it.). I’m not yet ready to dismiss him as a legitimate answer to the Browns QB problem; he hasn’t played in enough games and is still young. If anything, I’m really pulling for the guy to succeed because if he’s successful the Browns may very well be successful as well. Not only that, but he’s a local kid and the prospect of a homegrown talent saving the franchise suits my idyllic yernings for a return to the halcyon days of Paul Brown or, if those expectations are too lofty, Lou Groza.

But I do have my worries. His arm is too weak–at least right now–to be successful in the NFL. Witness his first-quarter interception against Detroit, when he scrambled out of the pocket and threw an absolute duck floater into double coverage. Such a pass–scrambling, on the run to the right–might not normally raise any eyebrows (except that it was a poor decision, but that’s another story), but Frye actually stopped rolling to his right, set his feet, and threw the ball, and the pass still came out lame. Frye’s arm strength was the most legitimate concern fans/analysts had when Frye came out of the University of Akron and is what he worked on this offseason. Said coach Romeo Crennel in reference to the average quarterback making deep throws of 37-42 yards, “That’s a deep ball anywhere, in college, high school or pro, and Charlie can do that. Now, is [Frye] going to go back like Randall Cunningham and throw it 60 yards? No, but that’s so rare. You just don’t see that happen in the NFL.” First of all, a lot of quarterbacks in the NFL can throw the ball 60 yards on a drop back pass, but that’s neither here nor there, since Crennel’s larger point, I think, is that plays designed for the quarterback to throw the ball 60 yards on a drop back are exceptionally rare. The Browns certainly won’t have any such plays, in part because Frye is incapable of such a throw and in part because the offensive line is incapable of blocking for the ammount of time needed for such a play to develop The Browns don’t need Frye to throw the ball 60 yards, but that doesn’t excuse Frye’s weak arm. The fact is, there is not one quarterback who’s capable of throwing the ball 60+ yards down the field who’s incapable of throwing a 20-yard bullet, but there are plenty of quarterbacks who are incapable of throwing the ball 60+ yards down the field who are also incapable of throwing a 20-yard bullet. 60 yards is not some holy grail of quarterback arm strength, of course, but if your quarterback is unable to throw the ball far, what makes you think he can throw the ball hard?

Slightly related to Frye’s weak arm is his lack of accuracy. Again I would cite his first interception against Detroit. As far as I can tell it’s not as though Frye is taking some zip off his passes in order to increase his accuracy, the way CC Sabathia is taking some zip off his fastball (instead of 96-98 he’s throwing it 93-96) to increase his accuracy.

Tangent Alert: Prior to this season Sabathia had struck out two batters for every one batter he walked. For some pitchers this rate might not be so bad, but Sabathia has a career K/9 of 7.1–he struck out a lot of batters but also walked a lot of batters. This season Sabathia has 35 BBs to 135 Ks. He took some mustard off his fastball and his BBs dropped more than 50% below his career season average (and will he’ll likely finish the season with his BBs around 50% lower than his career average). His Ks have dropped too, but only about 18%. So he’s still striking out a lot of batters, but he’s walking far fewer, both in ratio and in absolute terms.

Getting back to Frye, I have seen nothing to indicate that Frye is doing a Sabathia–holding back his rocket arm in favor of accuracy. Not only that, but if Frye did start dialing back his arm about 2-3%, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that he wouldn’t be even a second-string quarterback in the NFL. Frye just doesn’t have the touch of a Chad Pennington or a Drew Brees, although he has an arm of comparable strength. Of his six interceptions last season three came on passes of 1-10 yards and in only 61 attempts. His QB Score for those attempts is a pathetic 11 (average is about 40). On passes of 21-30 yards, of which Frye attempted 34, he threw two interceptions. So he can’t throw it far and he isn’t accurate when he throws the short to intermediary routes.

It’s probably too soon to judge Frye on some of the other aspects of being a quarterback (particularly leadership). He moves in the pocket well and when he’s scrambling he always keeps his focus downfield. He has a propensity to throw the ball to the right side of the field and ignore the left side. Whether this is by design–his first and second reads often coming on the right–or deficiency–Frye isn’t yet comfortable enough to routinely pivot and throw to the left–I’m not sure. Losing Edwards to injury certainly wasn’t ideal, but if you go by Chadiha’s article he makes it sound as though the two got a lot of important work done in the offseason. I hope all of it translates into on-field productivity. Because if the Browns aren’t productive from the quarterback and wide receiver positions (Ken Dorsey sure isn’t the answer) then the Browns won’t be productive. The defense is too young, in terms of player experience with the NFL, with the defense, and with each other, to keep the Browns in ballgames they have no right to win. In other words, the 2006 Browns won’t be the 2005 Bears.

Which brings me to the defense…

Posted in Cleveland Browns | 3 Comments »

Never change the channel

Posted by disappointmentzone on 24 August 2006

The Indians won last night, improbably, over the Royals, 15-13, in the most dramatic game this season.

Kansas City scored 10 runs in the first inning. Indians starter Paul Byrd went 2/3 innings and gave up nine runs (three earned) on two homers, a triple, an a slew of singles and doubles. It wasn’t pretty. But then the Indians started chipping away–a couple runs in the third, a few in the fourth–and I was reminded of a game from about a month ago against the Tigers in which the Indians gave up five unearned runs in the first inning, battled back to within a couple of runs, but ultimately lost. This was about the time when the influx of rookies started, an influx that has brought, night in and night out, anywhere from three to six players in the lineup, all of whom, with the exception of Hector Luna, rookies. The Indians battled back that night, and I wrote:

The Indians have pratically no chance of making the playoffs. This much is true. But there is a gritty poignancy in fighting whatever undesirable fate looms on the horizen. The Indians may not make the playoffs, but there is still dignity to be had and honor to be earned.

A writer once wrote, “As if it matters how a man falls down. When the fall is all that’s left, it matters.”

Indeed.

The last time a team lost after scoring at least 10 runs in the first inning was 1989 (Phillies). This was the only time, prior to tonight, such a feat occurred. Thought maybe you’d like to know this. Moving along…

Last night’s game was reminiscent of the greatest comeback in MLB history. Though that Indians team featured some of the best players in the club’s history–Thome, Lofton, Vizquel, Alomar–and the most indelible image of that game is Lofton practically skipping home in the bottom of the 11th, you might not remember who drove in Lofton with the game-winning single. Give up? Jolbert Cabrera, who came in for Alomar after Seattle scored 12 runs in the first few innings. Do you remember Eddie Taubensee, who took over at DH for Juan Gonzalez? Me neither. The truth is, for as many players on that Indians team that are memorable, there was an equal number of utterly forgettable names who contributed to the win. Coming back after being down 14-2 entering the bottom of the seventh inning is nuts. But doing so with the Eddie Taubensees and Jolbert Cabreras of the world makes the comeback even more remarkable.

So it was tonight. Ryan Garko drove in the game-winning run with a two-out single in the top of the 10th inning. Shin-Soo Choo drove in the game-tying run in the top of the ninth with a two-out triple. Hector Luna drove in four runs and scored the game-tying run. Franklin Gutierrez went 2-4. After clawing back to within one run at 9-10 in the top of the sixth only to see Fuasto Carmona give up three runs in the bottom of the sixth, the Indians scored four runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game. Carmona notwithstanding, the bullpen performed admirably. When Jason Davis showed up at Kauffman Stadium this afternoon I’m sure he wasn’t planning on entering the game in the first inning. He went 3.1 innings and allowed one run. Rafael Betancourt pitched two scoreless innings, including the bottom of the ninth, to earn the win. Tom Mastny pitched the 10th, striking out the last two batters, to earn his second career save.

If in five years any of these names are as forgettable as Taubensee and Cabrera no one would be surprised. I hope Choo and Garko and Carmona and Mastny continue to develop and turn into everyday players for the Indians; but I also had the same hopes for Russell Branyan and Marty Cordova. But this is neither here nor there. All that matters is that the team–Hafner, Sizemore, Garko, and Luna; the bullpen–failed to wither under the weight of a nine-run first-inning deficit. Whatever faults plague Eric Wedge as a manager–and they are legion–he has always been able to summon from the team effort in circumstances when something less than that would suffice. If the Indians had lost the game tonight, say, 11-13 or 10-13 or even 9-13, I would have been quite impressed by the fortitude necessary to continue in the face of such a deficit. Scoring nine runs in such circumstances would have reaffirmed why I enjoy watching this team (allowing 10 runs in the first inning, in all fairness, is why I hate watching this team) and continue to do so. Even though the Indians have practically no chance of making the playoffs, the games still matter and the Indians don’t quit.

So he we are once again. And once again, I’m moved to say the following:

There is a gritty poignancy in fighting whatever undesirable fate looms on the horizen. The Indians may not make the playoffs, but there is still dignity to be had and honor to be earned.

A writer once wrote, “As if it matters how a man falls down. When the fall is all that’s left, it matters.”

Indeed.

Now, if we can just work on not giving up 10 runs in the first inning…

Posted in Cleveland Indians | 2 Comments »

More reasons why the Browns won’t win six games this season

Posted by disappointmentzone on 23 August 2006

Willie McGinest is a pretty good linebacker, or so I’ve been told. He hasn’t actually played as a Cleveland Brown yet–he’s oldish and is taking it easy during the marathon of meaningless football games otherwise known as the NFL preseason–so I can’t confirm reports that speak to his talent, but I’m hopeful that all the money he could earn as a Cleveland Brown will be worth it (and the $6 million he’s already earned). If anything, he’s lasted longer than LeCharles Bentley (apparently there’s only room in Cleveland for one player with a LeName name; God works in mysterious ways, I guess, and is committed to letting everyone know the Chosen One tattoo on LeBron James’s sculpted body was not etched into his flesh by a sleazy tattoo artist in downtown Akron but rather was placed there through devine intervention when LeBron was still in the womb…or so I’ve been told by LeBron fanatics, who seem a trustworthy lot) which is nice.

But then I read this report on Deadspin about McGinest and his inability to think logically and now I’m kinda worried. I hope McGinest is a better football player than he is a thinker. If he isn’t, Browns fans have a lot to be worried about.

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The final word on Laura and AJ, maybe

Posted by disappointmentzone on 22 August 2006

In an interview posted on nbcsports.com, Laura Quinn’s brother (his name’s Brady…I think he plays football) gives the final word on the shotgun wedding of AJ Hawk and his sister, Laura.

It wasn’t what everyone thinks (Internet sites have speculated the “shotgun” wedding was because Laura was pregnant). They have a ceremony planned for March that they originally planned on doing the whole time. They just wanted to get married in a registered court of law (so they could live together). Our family knew about it but not everyone else in the free world knew about it so once it happened it kind of got blown out of proportion. They’re obviously still going to have a ceremony and everything.

Pay no mind to those parentheses–??–and focus on the implication that in order to live together Laura and AJ had to get married. Yeah, that makes sense. That is unless Wisconsin has some laws I’ve never heard of and neither has anyone I know, which is possible; I’m no expert in Wisconsin laws. Maybe they had to get married so Laura could be covered on AJ’s health insurance…but nothing about about this sounds suspect. So ignore everything I’ve written about the circumstances of their shotgun wedding in a downtown law office in Green Bay, Wisconsin in the morning while AJ wore his workout gear. Laura Quinn’s brother has set the record straight.

Yes, I still have $10 on Laura being pregnant.

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Eastern Conference preview (for the next five seasons) continued

Posted by disappointmentzone on 21 August 2006

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons have most of the big names on the team under long-term contracts, the exception being Chauncey Billups, who will be a free agent after this season if he exercises his player option. Most likely he’ll remain with the team for the sixth year of his $33.7 million contract and become a free agent in two years. Richard Hamilton is in the middle of a seven-year, $62 million contract, which is set to expire in 2008 should he opt out of his contract. If not, he’ll be a free agent in 2009. Rasheed Wallace is also under contract until 2009 and Tayshaun Prince is under contract until 2011 for only $48 million (the best contract of the group—by far). These are all marquee names, but there are reasons to be concerned if you are a Pistons fan (and to be happy if you are a Cavs fan).

First, Flip Saunders is your coach. If you watched him get totally out-coached in the NBA playoffs, which is to say if you watched the Pistons in the NBA playoffs, then you know what I’m talking about. He’s a Cleveland native, but I’m grateful he isn’t the Cavs’ coach. Second, Rasheed Wallace is owed a lot of money, will be 32 at the start of the season, and has a rich history of behavior problems, which doesn’t bode well for the Pistons should they want to trade him. $60 million is a lot to pay a player who scores 15 points per game and shoots a lot of threes (2600 in his career) but at a low percentage (.357%). He rebounds well and, when he’s on, is a huge mismatch against any power forward in the league. But he totally disappeared in the playoffs after guaranteeing victory and that had to gnash his teammates. Ben Wallace is gone to the Bulls, replaced by Nazr Mohammed, who is under contract until 2011 for $31 million. Losing Ben Wallace will hurt the Pistons (though not as much as signing him for $60 million over four years), and after the remaining starting four, there is a huge drop in talent. Flip Murray will be a nice backup to Billups and Hamilton, but Antonio McDyess, due to his $22.5 million contract, is paid far too much for a backup. Perhaps if he was used more the cost would justify his contribution, but as is his contract is more of a burden than anything. The Pistons are a lot like the Heat in that they have some talent locked up with long term deals, but that talent is on the back nine of their careers and the supporting cast is thin at best. Also like the Heat, this season is probably Detroit’s best chance at an NBA championship unless there are a couple of major changes to the roster in the next few seasons. If the Pistons resign Billups that will eat up a lot of cap space and limit what they can do in 2008 and beyond. The best thing going for Detroit right now is that the starting four are all very experienced.

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Peter King breaks down broken down Browns’ centers

Posted by disappointmentzone on 21 August 2006

In his Monday Morning Quaterback column SI.com football writer Peter King provides a helpful timeline of how the Browns’s center position has been filled (or not filled) since the start of training camp. An exerpt:

Number of Cleveland Browns centers injured, suspended or retired — or some combination of the above — in the last 25 days: six.

Number of centers traded for: one.

Number of centers worked out by the team: four.

Number of free-agent centers signed since the start of camp: three.

Number of depth-chart combinations at center since July 26: eight.

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For your Troy Smith fix

Posted by disappointmentzone on 21 August 2006

Sports Illustrated‘s college football preview hit newstands this week. OSU is their pick for #1 and the preview features a nice article by Stewart Mandel on Troy Smith. The article is only available online to subscribers, but here is the link nonetheless. In the New York Times’ new monthly Play Magazine there is a much longer feature on Smith penned by Bryan Curtis, of Slate.com.

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Peralta hits the ball far when a lot of men are on base; Indians win

Posted by disappointmentzone on 20 August 2006

Jhonny Peralta hit his first career grand slam as the Indians beat down Devil Rays 9-4 to improve to 11 games shy of mediocre. Travis Hafner set a career high in RBIs when he hit is 38th homer of the season in the third inning. Not to be outdone, Ryan Garko also set a career high in RBIs when he followed Hafner’s homer with a home run of his own, his third. To be fair, every RBI Garko records sets a new career high. All told the Indians had 17 hits, six for extra bases, and grounded into only one double play. The lowlight was Shin-Soo Choo, who left 10 (!) runners on base. Andy Marte also regressed to form, going 1-5 with two strikeouts and five stranded.

Next up is Kansas City. If only every series were against either the Royals or Devil Rays.

Posted in Cleveland Sports | 2 Comments »

Cavs in Japan update

Posted by disappointmentzone on 20 August 2006

The US crushed China this morning, 121-90. It took all of four minutes before the US had its first double-digit lead, and at one point were up by 36. With the victory the US improves to 2-0 in the FIBA World Championship. LeBron James played 22 minutes, scored 11 (5/10 from the field) points, and had seven rebounds and four steals. In yesterday’s 111-100 defeat of Puerto Rico LBJ went for 15 and six.

The other Cleveland Cav playing in Japan is Anderson Varejao, who plays for Brazil. In Brazil’s 77-83 loss to Australia yesterday Varejao had 15 points (5/14) and 10 rebounds with four blocks. Today Brazil stomped on Qatar, 97-66, and Varejao had 13 points (5/8) and seven rebounds in 25 minutes.

Posted in Cleveland Indians, flotsam and Jetsam | 2 Comments »