The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for October, 2006

Quick NBA preview

Posted by disappointmentzone on 31 October 2006

The Disappointment Zone is a forum dedicated specifically to Cleveland sports, with the occasional nod to our friends down in Columbus and our friends overseas playing that other type of football. That said, from time to time (this really being the first time), when other bloggers throw down mini-challenges, The Disappointment Zone must step out of its comfort zone, as it were, to deal with more general sports content. In this instance, the Association of National Basketball…wait…the National Basketball Association (I knew this wouldn’t be easy). The excellent sports blog Rebuilding Year has posted its set of NBA predictions for the 2006-07 season, which can be found here, and has challenged The Disappointment Zone to a duel of NBA forecasting ability.

To catch you up to speed, a few of the salient details from the Rebuilding Year preview include:

Cleveland as the sixth best team in the Eastern Conference
Chicago as the second best team in the Eastern Conference
Phoenix as the fifth best team in the Western Conference
Houston as the fourth best team in the Western Conference
Tim Duncan as MVP
Scott Skiles as NBA Coach of the Year
Marcus Williams/Steve Novak as Rookie(s) of the Year
DeShawn Stevenson as Most Improved
Spurs over Clippers in WCF
Miami and Chicago in ECF
Spurs over Miami for NBA Championship

Following the Rebuilding Year template, here is the Official Disappointment Zone NBA preview:

Top eight teams in the Eastern Conference, from best to eighth-best (Atlanta is worst)*#

1. Miami
2. Cleveland
3. Chicago
4. New Jersey
5. Detroit
6. Washington
7. Indiana
8. Milwaukee

Notes: Miami will follow the same formula from last season and play only when it matters, which is to say that Shaq will not try until March. Cleveland discovers an offense that relies less on LeBron James scoring and more on him passing. By the middle of the season the Cavs will be playing a more up-tempo game, resting Ilgauskas for the playoffs and using Varejao in his place. Gooden has the second-best season of his career. Damon Jones is traded in early 2007. LBJ averages 29-7-7. Detroit starts strong, crumbles in the middle of the season, but finishes well. Flip Saunders is fired during the crumbling portion, Wallace draws five technical fouls for complaining by January, Prince eats two servings of dinner in April and immediately purges out of fear that he might put on weight. Chicago has a tough start to the season but comes on strong after Christmas, which ultimately propels them into the playoffs. Washington leads the league is scoring but still plays terrible defense. Indiana realizes signing Al Harrington was a mistake in March–two months after the fans realize it–when Danny Granger proves the more valuable, more cost effective, player. Milwaukee improves from last season by one win and barely beats an upstart Orlando team for a playoff spot. 55 wins gets one team home court advantage, 41 wins gets the last team into the playoffs.

Top eight teams in the Western Conference, from best to eighth-best (Portland is worst)

1. Dallas
2. Phoenix
3. San Antonio
4. LA Clippers
5. Houston
6. Utah
7. Denver
8. LA Lakers

Notes: Dallas improves its win total from last season. Phoenix is grateful for the return of Amare early in the season, but his impact isn’t felt until late in the regular season and through the playoffs, when his size and ability shore up the most glaring weakness on this team: a lack of big men. Kurt Thomas does better than you think. Phoenix averages 110 ppg. San Antonio stumbles and loses in the second round of the playoffs. The Clippers become a legitimate contender and Brand quietly has another MVP season while Livingston becomes a household name in places not named Los Angeles. Houston is scary good when both Yao and McGrady are healthy, but they combine to miss 25 games, which ultimately prevents Houston from being as good as it can be. Signing Battier looks like a brilliant decision after two weeks. Utah challenges Houston as the team with the greatest potential to be frighteningly good on any given night but utterly pedestrian on more nights than not until Derron Williams is maximized. Denver rides Anthony and Camby and the thin Denver air. The Lakers suffer from no having consistent point guard and no bruising center, but Kobe has another stellar season and Odom does, too. New Orleans misses out on a playoff spot by a game.

Cleveland over Chicago in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami will falter in the playoffs because the team is just too old and the NBA season is too long. If the playoffs began in March the Heat would win it all, but such is not the case. Chicago will lose to Cleveland in the ECF because of LeBron James, with a bigger-than-expected bump from Eric Snow, whose veteran leadership and defensive ability become crucial in key moments. Without LeBron the Cavs are far worse than the Bulls. With LeBron the Cavs are slightly better.

Phoenix over Dallas in the Western Conference Finals. Amare, while not within three-point-range of being a quality defender, is another big body the Suns can use to spare Marion, who was entirely overworked last season. This will be crucial not only against Dallas but also against Cleveland.

Phoenix over Cleveland in the Finals. Phoenix is too good at dictating the tempo. Ilgauskas and Snow kill the Cavs in the Finals.

MVP: LeBron James
Coach of the Year: Jerry Sloan (he’s due)
DPOY: Ron Artest
ROY: Brandon Roy
Most Improved: Shaun Livingston

*These aren’t seedings for the playoffs
#All of these predications are based on the assumption that teams will remain relatively healthy throughout the season and will be fully healthy come the playoffs.

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers, flotsam and Jetsam | 5 Comments »

Charlie Frye: QB Score: Week 8

Posted by disappointmentzone on 30 October 2006

The Browns won an actual football game yesterday, although in the fourth quarter the team did just about everything possible to lose. I predicted at the start of the season that after this game the emotional barometer in Cleveland would read “Guarded Cheerfulness“, which I think is just about right. There was a new offensive coordinator and the team moved the ball with some efficiency throughout most of the game, although a) we were playing the NY Jets and b) we almost lost. So let’s be happy. These wins will be pretty rare over the rest of the season. It’s important to enjoy them while we can. Just be warned that if you are too happy the fall from grace next Sunday–we play the Chargers, a team that’s, well, pretty damn good–will hurt a little more than it would otherwise.

Charlie Frye had his second-best game of the season (or sixth-worst for you pessimists) with a QB Score of -1 and a QB Score per play of -.033. He has yet to go a game without throwing an interception, which is a bad sign–11 INTs through seven games is pretty awful–although he hasn’t fumbled the ball for two straight weeks, which is nice.

Posted in Cleveland Browns, statistics | Leave a Comment »

OSU #4

Posted by disappointmentzone on 27 October 2006

The USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25 preseason college basketball poll was just released. Fresh of an NCAA tourney championship and returning all five starters, Florida is the consensus #1. No surprise there. North Carolina is #2 (again, not much of a surprise) while Kansas is #3. Kansas is a very talented team, but in recent years the Jawhawks have shown no ability to survive in the NCAAs. That trend will probably end this season. NB: Kansas plays Florida on 11/25. The Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes are slated at #4, mostly on the promise of the best high school basketball player in the world, who is out until January. OSU sans Oden will face UNC on 11/29 and FLA on 12/23, by far the two toughest games of the season for the Buckeyes, at least on paper. Wisconsin is the only other team from the Big Ten to be ranked in the preseason (#9) and Bo Ryan always brings it, so those two games will be fun to watch, but the Big Ten by and large is in a down year. With a newly minted contract extension Thad Matta has a nice core of young, extremely talented players that everyone will be suggesting, come March (and probably sooner), will leave for the NBA draft sooner rather than later (at least they’ll be suggesting this about Oden). Just as the Cavs have LeBron James and his ground-breaking, can’t-believe-he-did-that-well-actually-yes-I-can three-year contract extension that will be prompting the liberal elite East Coast biased sports media to run rampant with rumors about LBJ’s inevitable departure to NYC, the OSU basketball team now has its own mini-James saga brewing over when Oden will leave the friendly confines of Columbus for, oh, well, probably NYC (although maybe Chicago since Thomas is an idiot). Excellent.

Posted in Ohio State Buckeyes | 1 Comment »

Aston Villa doesn’t know how to lose

Posted by disappointmentzone on 24 October 2006

Now that Carthon is gone perhaps things will improve with Cleveland’s #2 football team, the Browns. Probably not. But you never know. For happier times, look across the pond to Cleveland’s #1 football team, Aston Villa, which just won another game (Carling Cup, not EPL, but still). Soccer Spot, never fear, is here with a recap. His words follow.

Carling Cup Review: Aston Villa 3 – Leicester 2

It took a 119th minute goal by Gabriel Agbonlahor to put Leicester away, but Aston Villa have moved on in the Carling Cup. Leicester put up a fight, twice equalizing and they had goalie Paul Henderson to thank for blocking a 90th minute Gareth Barry penalty (the scoring was opened by Barry netting from the spot). What does it take for Villa to put away penalties on a consistent basis? I don’t know if fatigue will be a factor in Saturday’s game at Anfield, but it’s certainly a larger question now that Villa had to go a full 120 minutes rather than the regular 90 if Barry had put the PK away…1/2 on the day is okay for intramurals, but not good enough at this level.

It was nice to see Baros starting alongside Angel again up front and hopefully this parternship will now begin to bring good results, as both are great players and superb finishers. Angel grabbed a goal in the Leicester match, a move which started with Baros, which is better to see. They’ve started alongside each other for the last 3 matches because of Luke Moore’s injury and they might just be starting to gel as a striking unit. They’ll need to be on form against Liverpool.

[By the way, the correct pronunciation of Baros seems to be Bahrosh since in Czech it’s Baroš — anyone who speaks Czech, please correct me if I’m wrong. And since we’re on the subject, Angel is not pronounce Ahn-gel like the FSC commentators keep saying it, it’s in Spanish, so it’s Ahn-hel.]

A “Carling Fact” from Carling.com: “Carling lovers in the UK happily drink almost 1.7 billion pints every year. That’s over 4.5 million pints per day. We’re a thirsty lot.” Sure, that sounds like a lot of beer, but since there are just over 60 million UK residents, that’s only 0.075 pints per person! That can’t even get you tipsy! Unless you’re 4 or something like some of those 60 million, though as I remember it Pip from Great Expectations was fond of beer with his breakfast…

[Disappointment Zone chimes in: .075 pints per person per day of one brand of beer is damn impressive. The UK puts the US to shame–to absolute shame–when it comes to beer drinking. God save the Queen.]

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League | 1 Comment »

Pitfalls of the BCS

Posted by disappointmentzone on 24 October 2006

While watching a couple of college football games this weekend one of the least talked about pitfalls of the BCS system came into stark relief.

Trailing late in the fourth quarter against Texas, 14-19, Nebraska went on a fairly impressive scoring drive to take a 20-19 lead. I started watching a game during this drive and when Nebraska went ahead I was about as happy as a person who doesn’t really care about the Big 12 can be. Texas losing sounds nice, Nebraska was the underdog; what’s not to like? As you probably know, Texas doesn’t score on its next possession. Nebraska gets the ball back with a chance to run out the clock if the Huskers can pick up at least one first down. On third and five Nebraska throws the ball for a first down only to fumble the ball over to Texas. Texas promptly goes the necessary yards and kicks the game-winning field goal.

Fast forward a few hours to the Notre DameUCLA game. UCLA kicks a field goal late to take a 17-13 lead. With no time outs and under two minutes to play Notre Dame gets the ball 80 yards from the end zone. Three plays later, Notre Dame wins the game.

Under normal, non-BCS circumstances I would have probably felt pretty devastated watching two potential upsets against teams I actively root against slip away in the final seconds. But in the BCS Era a small but significant portion of my soul was deeply grateful that both Texas and Notre Dame won.

Why?

If Texas loses then OSU will lose points in the BCS. The strength of OSU’s wins depends on where the teams they beat end up, not the relative strength of those teams when OSU beat them. It’s not enough that Texas was #2 when OSU waltzed into Texas and manhandled the Longhorns. If Texas loses the rest of its games that victory won’t mean much in the BCS rankings. Texas needs to keep winning so that OSU can prosper from the victory.

Notre Dame needs to keep winning because Michigan’s best victory is against the Fighting Irish. If Notre Dame starts losing, Michigan start losing points in the BCS, and if Michigan starts losing points in the BCS, then when OSU beats Michigan on November 18th, the victory won’t count for as much as it would have had Michigan entered the game with a higher ranking in the BCS.

So the BCS has me rooting for Texas and Norte Dame to win because those teams winning will help OSU. The same is true of Michigan, and this is where everything turns rather gross. As an OSU fan I want Michigan to win the rest of its games until it loses to OSU. If Michigan loses between then, that loss will hurt OSU: If OSU beats a one-loss Michigan team it’s not nearly as good as beating an undefeated Michigan team; if OSU loses to a one-loss Michigan team it’s not nearly as good as losing to an undefeated Michigan team. There is no scenario under which a one-loss Michigan team is as good as an undefeated Michigan team for OSU fans. Michigan needs to win if only so that OSU can win the National Championship.

Thanks the BCS I am rooting for Texas, Notre Dame, and Michigan, which is entirely antithetical to everything I learned growing up in Ohio and rooting for the Buckeyes. But so it is thanks to the BCS.

Posted in Ohio State Buckeyes | 3 Comments »

Aston Villa: still undefeated

Posted by disappointmentzone on 23 October 2006

While the Browns can’t manage to win, Cleveland’s other football team, Aston Villa, can’t lose. Soccer Spot once again comes through with all your Aston Villa needs. First, a recap of this past weekend’s match. Second, a preview of this week’s Carling Cup game. His words follow.

For the 6th time in 9 games, Aston Villa a solitary point. It’s the 3rd straight 1-1 result for the Lions, who have somehow managed the same result against current EPL leaders Chelsea as they have against mid-table sides Fulham and Tottenham.

This does, however, mean that Aston Villa remain the only unbeaten side in the EPL, a fact that you can’t help be proud of. They’re currently in 6th place, and only Reading and Arsenal have realistic chances of overtaking Villa this weekend (technically a 6-0 win for Blackburn over 3rd-place Bolton would put the Rovers above Villa, but somehow I just don’t see that happening). Astute readers will note that Reading and Arsenal play each other, so only one of those teams will be able to overtake Villa. (A tie would put Arsenal in 6th and drop Villa to 7th on goal differential and a victory for either team would leapfrog them above Villa — Arsenal would leap to 4th with a win)

The game, according to manager Martin O’Neill was a terrible showing for the home side, a fact that can be attested to via their shots to shots on goal numbers: 3(1). That smacks of the US national team’s run in Germany, but furthermore, if you’re going to control the ball for more than half of the game, getting more than 3 shots off is extremely important for winning.

Gareth Barry took the penalty that in the end earned them a point (45th minute equalizer by Moritz Volz), which is strange, since Juan Pablo Angel usually takes the spot kicks. Apparently the players weren’t into JP missing so many of them, though: “O’Neill admitted he was surprised Barry took the penalty after Juan Pablo Angel had told his manager he was prepared to continue spot-kick duties despite missing five of his last six, including against Spurs.” Five of his last six? That’s absurd and Barry should have stepped up before that, I think. It could have earned them a few extra points (namely 2 against Tottenham).

Next week’s game: at Liverpool. Aston Villa will need to be on top of their game to come away with points at Anfield, but a draw there would be solid. Villa simply needs to start getting points at home.
*****
Carling Cup Preview: Aston Villa – Leicester

Leicester City sits 14th in the Championship standings with 17 points from 13 games. Shouldn’t be too hard to knock them off, but you can never count them out, as is the case in ever Carling Cup match. They’re entering the Tuesday’s matchup on a 7 game unbeaten run, so like Aston Villa, they’re clawing their way through matches and earning a few points here and there. To be exact, in their last seven games they’ve got 3 wins and 4 ties. Their last game was a tie this past weekend against last year’s Premiership relegation squad Crystal Palace, so you know they’re game against top flight opponents. Leicester itself was last in the Premiership only 3 years ago during the 2003/04 season, but they were promptly kicked back down to the Championship.

Leicester seems like a quality squad, having only lost once to anyone outside of the current top 5 of the Championship (last placed Hull 0-1 at home), so overlooking this match would be a disaster for Villa. Still, we’re talking about a Championship team without any real stars which Villa should be able to overpower if they set their mind to it.

Game time: Tuesday 2:45pm EST

If you’d like to watch various games (not sure if Carling Cup games will be available) here are a couple of sites:

livefooty.doctor-serv.com/
soccacritics.com/live-football-streaming/

[You have to install some programs that I believe are mostly in Chinese, but there are English language streams — mostly I use it to watch games on the weekend and Champions League matches that don’t appear on ESPN 2; the feeds are okay, only occassionally choppy or fuzzy and if you prefer French, Spanish, or Chinese, those are options too. Think I found one in Russian once as well…]

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League | 1 Comment »

Charlie Frye: QB Score: Week 7

Posted by disappointmentzone on 23 October 2006

After getting beaten to the punchline that last week Charlie Frye posted his second-best QB Score of the season0–during the bye-week non-game against no one, I return strong in week 7 even if Charlie Frye didn’t. In yesterday’s loss to the Broncos Frye posted a QB Score of -35 and his QB Score per play was -.90. Not his best. Not his worst.

My favorite quote from the post-game press conference comes from Romeo Crennel, who said, “We had a good week of practice and felt like we could get something done.” Right.

It’s never a good sign to see one’s coach pulling his punches and opting for euphemisms only seven weeks into the season, but it’s an even worse sign to see that those euphemisms aren’t actually euphemisms. By “get something done” Crennel was not speaking about “winning” so much as he was speaking about “getting something done“. Such are the aspirations of a 1-5 team. If 165 yards of offense suffices for “getting something done” then the rest of the season is going to be awfully long.

[UPDATE: Gary Baxter tore his patellar tendons in both knees and will undergo surgery today. He is expected to be out at least one year, if not much, much longer.]

Posted in Cleveland Browns | Leave a Comment »

Small bit to make you feel anxious

Posted by disappointmentzone on 20 October 2006

Peter Vescey, in today’s NY Post, has a column about the feud between Isaiah Thomas and ESPN NBA analyst Greg Anthony. I know, exciting. One of the reasons these two are feuding is because Anthony “figured out what [Thomas] was up to” when, in an apparent move to win the goodwill of LeBron James, Thomas signed Jamal Crawford and Vin Baker, both clients of Aaron Goodwin, who is James’s agent. But that’s not the interesting bit. This is the interesting bit:

A high-level league source swears James will opt out early (after the 20011-12 season) from his new deal and join the Knicks.

I have no idea how the LBJ situation will play out over the next few seasons. No idea. The only thing I’m certain about is that there will be a constant string of anonymous league insiders stating that LBJ is gone when his contract expires, if not sooner, and that these anonymous sources will be quoted when a) the Cavs go through a tough losing streak, b) the Knicks go through a winning streak, c) there is talk of Thomas losing his job, d) there is a slow news day in off season. There are probably e), f), g), and h), but that’s too much to consider right now.

His contract hasn’t even kicked in yet and he’s already gone from Cleveland (or so we are being told). The life of a Cavs fan: gotta love it!

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers | 6 Comments »

Intrepid reader solves mystery

Posted by disappointmentzone on 19 October 2006

As I wrote earlier, there are two AP voters, both from California, who refuse to vote OSU #1 and instead vote for West Virginia. For the life of me (and for the life of everyone I know) I can’t figure out the twisted calculus necessary to vote West Virginia ahead of OSU. Under what rubric could such a conclusion logically be reached? West Virginia has beaten, as one reader pointed out, Syracuse and East Carolina–big time programs with rich traditions of fielding top-notch football teams–and the combined records of the teams WVU has played is a lowly 14-25.

The combined records of OSU’s opponents is a respectable 29-17 (with wins over Texas and Iowa, for those scoring at home).

I realize that a team’s schedule is to some extent beyond the control of the program. If OSU only played Oberlin College, OSU would still be a fairly good team. But I think it’s fair to say that OSU would not be as good of a team if they only played Oberlin College, which is to say that the quality of opponents a team plays to some extent shapes (or refines) the quality of a team. West Virginia has not been in a position to undergo such a refinement; OSU has. This is important.
Anyway.

I posted the email address of one of the voters, Scott Wolf, in case anyone was interested in writing him to ask him about his curious voting habits. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the email address of the other voter, Kevin Pearson.

Now the mystery has been solvednot by me, of course, but a fantastic reader whose initials are MF. Here is Mr. Pearson’s email address.

Yes, I’ve already sent him an email.

Posted in flotsam and Jetsam, Ohio State Buckeyes | 2 Comments »

Goodbye, Roger Brown

Posted by disappointmentzone on 19 October 2006

Thanks to The Rebuilding Year for this wonderful piece of news: Roger Brown is leaving the Plain Dealer. He wasn’t fired–that would have been the cherry on top–but nonetheless his quad-weekly columns of antagonistic gossip and opinion will no longer be (dis)gracing the pages of Ohio’s largest newspaper. No news yet on where he’ll end up, but I’m sure wherever he goes he’ll be loved.

Some people view the decline in newspaper readership and revenue as a problem, as a marker of an uninterested, uninformed, apathetic citizenry, which is bad for the country. I say if that’s what it takes to get Roger Brown off of the pages of my newspaper, then it’s a wash.

Posted in flotsam and Jetsam | Leave a Comment »