The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for the ‘Aston Villa/English Premier League’ Category

Disappointment Zone Power Rankings: November

Posted by disappointmentzone on 14 November 2007

My elite team of MIT-educated number crunchers has been busy working in a dimly lit basement somewhere in the lower-middle contiguous United States. The mixture of location and importance of purpose has forged in them a bunker mentality. Take that as a sign of how meaningful these rankings are. Take them seriously, if only to give the MIT-educated number crunches an additional modicum of self esteem.

1) The Cleveland Browns

They have captured the minds and hearts of the American sports-minded public, riding a 3-1 record over their last four games and averaging about twice as many points per game during that stretch than they averaged all last season. Though they’re currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, they have an insanely easy schedule to close out the season. The Browns should be favored in at least five of their last seven games, if not six, if not seven. Five wins puts them in pretty good shape for a Wild Card berth; six puts them in great shape; and seven wins might put them back in contention for the division crown. When the season began no one expected them to be doing nearly this well. They are essentially playing with house money at this point, and when you play with house money you cannot lose. That said, if the Browns miss the playoffs there will be a lot of broken hearts, but there’s something to be said for having your team crush your soul in the last week of the season as opposed to during the first week of the season. Of course, the Browns are in that rare position of being able to do both at once. Still, we’re holding out hope. The skies are sunny above Cleveland Browns Stadium.

2) The Cleveland Indians

The Indians lost to Boston in seven games of the de facto World Series, a series that very well might have been decided by home field advantage, which the Red Sox won in a tie breaker over the Indians when both teams finished with 96 wins, tied for best in baseball. The core of the team is returning next season, as is most of the peripheral help. The Indians have the option of being extremely selective this off-season; there are no holes. LF and 3B could use an upgrade, but even if neither is addressed the Indians will still be favored to win the Central Division and will be one of the early season favorites for the World Series. Oh, and CC Sabathia won the Cy Young Award. Not too shabby.

3) Aston Villa

Since being destroyed 4-1 by Man U back in mid-October the Aston Villa has run off a 2-0-1 record, leaving them firmly entrenched at #8 in the EPL standings. Villa has six wins so far this season, tied for fifth most in the EPL with four other teams, including Liverpool, whose undefeated. Not too shabby. Were it not for a spectacular run for the Browns Villa might still lay claim to supremacy among Cleveland-related football teams, for for the time being that distinction belongs to the Browns.

4) The Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs are 4-4 and coming off their toughest road trip of the season, a six game swing through the second tier of the Western Conference. Entering the season a 4-4 mark would have been considered a large success. After the first game of the season, however, a 4-4 mark would have been considered nearly impossible. When they’re not tired or unfocused, the team has shown the ability to play quite well. Other than poor free throw shooting LBJ has been a monster; Daniel Gibson is showing that last spring was no fluke; Devin Brown has been every bit as good as anyone hoped; Larry Hughes has missed a few games due to injury, which is probably a good thing; and both Z and Ilguaskas are having terrific seasons. All that’s left is getting Varejao signed, which one hopes happens sooner rather than later.

5) Ohio State Football Buckeyes

Boy does that loss to Illinois hurt. Too painful to write about. They better defeat Michigan or this might go down as one of the most depressing collapses in their fabled history.

6) Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes

The jury is out on this team until further notice, which is as generous an assessment as one can make after they lost to DII Findley. A finish in the upper half of the Big Ten and a 10-7 seed in the NCAAs would represent a good season. Lighty is a beast.

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League, Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Sports, Ohio State Buckeyes | 10 Comments »

Disappointment Zone power rankings

Posted by disappointmentzone on 25 September 2007

Once again it is time to line up our favorite franchises and rate how powerful they are. Our group of sports experts and computer programmers and NASA scientists have been working very hard in a dingy and under ventilated basement somewhere near the Ganges River Delta (hey, if all other American companies outsource to India, why not us?). From their overworked and underpaid (oh yeah!) minds comes the latest in a continuing series of important DZ Power Rankings. Let’s take a look. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League, Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Indians, Ohio State Buckeyes | 4 Comments »

Second best upset of the weekend

Posted by disappointmentzone on 2 September 2007

Across the pond Chelsea has not lost a match in English Premier League for over seven months. This is an awfully impressive streak and is but one of the many reasons why Chelsea is like the New York Yankees of professional soccer. If you can imagine George Steinbrenner as a Russian oil tycoon with suspected ties to the mob then you have Chelsea’s owner, Roman Abramovich. Abramovich has spent the past few years buying up all the top talent in the UK and over that period has transformed Chelsea into one of the top clubs in all the world. Chelsea is based in London but their fan base has quickly expanded, much in the same way that each time the Yankees make the postseason there is a sudden 700% increase in annoying people in NY hats.

No one should root for Chelsea.

Everyone, however, should root for Aston Villa, the little team that could and the best football team associated with Cleveland, especially when Villa is set to play Chelsea, which they were today.

Of course, rooting for Villa usually means rooting for defeat. Victory isn’t Villa’s specialty — a tie is their usual MO — but someone forgot to mention that to Villa. Led by recently acquired Zat Knight, who scored the first goal 47 minutes into the match, Villa pulled off an amazing upset over Chelsea, besting them 2-0.  Their offense often looks like it is coached by Mike Brown and Chelsea’s defense is no joke, so a 2-0 victory is quite a surprise, even on top of the fact that it ended that seven-month streak.

The general consensus is that Mr. Barcelona Offside, the man usually in charge of covering all things Aston Villa, is passed out in a ditch with a warm can of PBR firmly in his grasp. Should he give up drinking there is a chance he’ll return to being an upstanding citizen, but the smart money is on him being a delinquent.

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

Aston Villa: year two preview*

Posted by disappointmentzone on 17 August 2007

*Actually, AV turns 133 this year, but it’s year two under the ownership of Mr. Lerner.

Aston Villa is arguably the best professional football team associated with Cleveland. For the time being the Browns, while #1 in our hearts, are #2 in the list of best professional Cleveland football teams. Last season the Soccer Spot provided outstanding coverage of all things Aston Villa. He’s moved on to greener pastures as far as soccer blogging is concerned — he’s now your guy for all things FC Barcelona over at The Offside — but he’s still willing to slum it with us from time to time. (1)

Aston Villa begins its campaign for an EPL title tomorrow, 12e/11c. The DZ will be posted up at a local drinking hole to watch the game and in hand will certainly be this lovely guide penned by Mr. Barca Offside himself. His words follow:

Aston Villa: The 2007/08 EPL Season

Even though the season has officially begun, there’s room for a little preview of the best Cleveland-related soccer team, except for maybe the Force. After finishing 10th in last year’s English Premier League (EPL), Aston Villa is definitely looking to finish up the year with a place in European competition, though even shooting for one of the Champions League spots given to English FA by UEFA would be ridiculous.

In case you’re not particularly familiar with the EPL, here’s a very brief rundown of the league:

Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool seem to comprise the upper echelon of English soccer these days, all having made pretty serious moves in the off-season. ManU added Carlos Tevez after a protracted legal battle, as well as Owen Hargreaves from Bayern Munich, Nani from Sporting Lisbon, and Anderson from FC Porto. They also either sold or let go of Kieran Richardson, Giuseppe Rossi, and Alan Smith.

Liverpool’s biggest signing was Fernando Torres, who arrived from Atlético Madrid for the bargain price of €30million, which is about $40million. I’m being facetious about the price, of course (I have my own opinions about Torres), but Liverpool certainly haven’t spared any expense that I can see in also signing (among others) Andriy Voronin from Bayer Leverkusen, Yossi Benayoun from West Ham, Ryan Babel from Ajax, and Lucas from Grêmio while offloading (among others) Luis Garcia, Boudewijn Zenden, Djibril Cisse, Craig Bellamy, Jerzy Dudek, and Robbie Fowler.

Chelsea made moves too, of course: Incoming were Alex from PSV, Tal Ben Haim from Bolton, Claudio Pizarro from Bayern Munich, Steve Sidwell from Reading, and Florent Malouda from Lyon. Chelsea rid themselves of Geremi and Kalid Boularhouz (loan).

There’s Arsenal, of course, but they don’t look like they’re going to challenge for the title, especially after losing their “talisman,” Thierry Henry to Spain’s FC Barcelona. They’ve replaced him with Eduardo da Silva from Dinamo Zagreb and also brought in Bacary Sagna from Auxerre and brought back Nicklas Bendtner from a loan at Birmingham. Still they’ve also loaned out Johan Djourou, sold Jose Antonio Reyes, Fredrik Ljunberg, and Jeremie Aliadiere, and have seen Julio Baptista return to Real Madrid after finishing his loan. I’m not expecting Arsenal to finish higher than fourth, but there’s no doubt that Arsene Wenger can make magic happen with a midfield including Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky, and Alexandre Hleb, among others.

This all suggests that in order to compete in a league flush with money (from TV deals), Aston Villa needed to bring in new players and get rid of useless ones. Here is what Villa did:

In:
Nigel Reo-Coker (West Ham)
Harry Forester (Watford)
Marlon Harewood (West Ham United)
Eric Lichaj (free)
Scott Carson (Liverpool)

Out:
Juan Pablo Angel (New York Red Bulls)
Gavin McCann (Birmingham City)
Aaron Hughes (Fulham)
Stephen Henderson (Bristol City)
Robert Olejnik (Falkirk)
Jlloyd Samuel (Bolton)
Steven Davies (Fulham)
Lee Hendrie (Sheffield United)
Liam Ridgewell (Birmingham City)

It certainly sounds like a lot of players went out the door, especially compared to how many came in, but those who left were either too old to compete in the EPL (Angel) or too crappy (well, all of the rest – no doubt many will dispute that about some of these players – it’s just sour grapes, people). It’s silly that we gave up so many players to competing teams, but, of course, if they’re too bad for us, let’s hope they continue to be to be bad while they play for other teams. Angel, of course, plays in the MLS, so what he does is immaterial to Villa’s fortunes and the same can be said for Henderson, Olejnik, and Hendrie, none of whom are in the EPL either. After one game (a 1-2 home loss to Liverpool), there’s little to suggest Villa is any different from last year, despite a solid acquisition in Nigel Reo-Coker. Villa has to play Liverpool, ManU, Chelsea, and Arsenal at home in the first half of the year, which means they have a chance to enter the second half with either a good shot at attaining Europe or no shot whatsoever: having to take points at Anfield, Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, and the Emirates during the second half of the season is a daunting task, really.

So to Saturday’s game: Liverpool is not an easy opening round opponent and Steven Gerrard’s 87th minute freekick was both stunning and indicative of just why they’re no fun to face. I missed all but the final 35 minutes of the match, but it seems that most writers found Torres’ addition to the squad to be very positive. I didn’t see any of that in the 20 minutes he was on while I was watching (subbed off), but Villa had trouble with the entire team, so it was hard to decide if he was causing the issues at the back. Villa seemed unable to keep up with Liverpool’s speed and ability (Gerrard won the freekick he subsequently scored by outmaneuvering Stiliyan Petrov, though Petrov did touch the ball away in one of those judgement calls that went against Villa). Despite the fact that the ref seemed to favor Liverpool 9 times out of 10, Liverpool looked far better. (2) Villa failed to make a dent in Liverpool’s uncoordinated defense, despite the fact that it was so uncoordinated. Ashley Young looked good, but that seemed to be the only bright spot in the last few minutes. John Carew should have scored about 8 times, but his lack of finishing, which I have expounded upon before, cropped up again and he fired either well wide or well and truly wide from good positions.

Despite their prestigious position in the Disappointment Zone Power Rankings (1), Aston Villa looked fairly shoddy and deserved to lose. They got lucky to score a single goal (Gareth Barry scored a PK off a Jamie Carragher handball in the box), though somewhat unlucky to be down 0-1 at that point (Laursen scored an own goal). The rest of the season should go about like the last one, with Villa eking out a few points here and there, but doing nothing fantastic and nothing horrible. They’re a solid club, though they’re not really in a position to push too hard for European competition.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say they’ll finish 8th, just missing out on European competition. So that’s my official prediction, with ManU winning the league, Chelsea and Liverpool rounding out the top 3, and Arsenal squeaking into the 4th Champions League spot. Not that I took any risks with my top 4 picks, but 8th place for Villa is perhaps hoping for a little too big a piece of the pie.

This weekend’s game is at Newcastle, a team that finished 13th last year, 7 points behind Villa. They currently sit in 5th, having beaten Bolton 1-3 at Bolton in their only game so far. They’re a solid squad and it’s their home opener, so it could very easily be 0 points from 2 games for Villa (who are in 16th on goal differential).

Here is a handy link from Wikipedia to keep you up-to-date with Villa when I’m doing my much more important stuff and can’t be bothered to do write-ups. [Editor’s note: Is this a joke? What’s the point of me having these incriminating photos of you if you are not going to honor me blackmailing you into doing write-ups?]

fn 1: The DZ and Mr. Barca Offside went to college together and knowing the reputation of both of our alma mater and Mr. Barca Offside it probably goes without saying that the DZ is blackmailing him into doing these posts. It’s the only way we can get him to write for a blog that has a small-but-loyal readership.

fn 2: I fully realize that a team who gets all of the calls will naturally look better, but in this case it was true anyway.

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League | 4 Comments »

Aston Villa: Year in Review

Posted by disappointmentzone on 29 May 2007

A big thanks goes out to Soccer Spot for providing outstanding coverage this season of Cleveland’s second-best football team, Aston Villa. Soccer Spot is now blogging about FC Barcelona for The Offside (probably the best soccer blog in the universe) and is currently in contract negotiations with the DZ for a second year as the outfit in charge of keeping us informed about Villa. We are hoping to lock him up in a long term deal. His words follow. Enjoy!

Aston Villa 2006/07: Success, in moderation. Lots of moderation.

So the EPL season is over. 38 games and our line looks somewhat familiar: 50pts from 11 wins, 17 draws, and 10 losses; all that places Villa squarely in the middle of the table in 11th place. Not quite good enough for top half, not really bad enough for bottom half. Instead of decrying that this was a wasted year, there are several things to build on that should be discussed.

Here is a quick look at the stats for Villa:

villastats.jpg

The thing is, Villa were only 3 wins from being in the UEFA Cup (Everton, in 6th, ended with 58 points). The middle of the pack was tightly squeezed with Everton, Bolton, Reading, Portsmouth, Blackburn, and Villa all scrunched in between 58 and 50 points. Convert a few of those draws (any of the 17) to wins and Villa are in Europe again, even if it is the NIT of international club soccer. FC Sevilla of Spain seems pretty pleased with itself after winning the Cup for the second year in a row. Happy enough, anyway, to be envied. Not that I have gained any respect for the UEFA Cup or anything. It’s still hardly mentionable.

In the end, it seems that the issues Villa dealt with weren’t on the defensive end, especially not at home. With the 6th fewest goals allowed overall (4th at home and tied for 7th away), the backline held firm enough. The goals for, while 2 more than goals against overall, put Villa in 12th (15th at home, while tied for 3rd away). It’s impressive that Villa averaged 1.21 goals per away game (23 in 19), but their mediocre tally at home (1.05goals/game, or 20 in 19) consigned them to always fighting an uphill battle. Villa also accounted for fully 1/7 of their total home goals (3) in their final game against Sheffield United, a team that was relegated, though just barely.

Perhaps the biggest reason Villa were unable to score more goals were their forwards. At the start of the season Milan Baros was the star striker and Juan Pablo Angel was his solid backup. Both are gone now, the former at Olympique Lyonnais and the latter at New York Red Bull. A look at Baros’ success at Lyon and his replacement John Carew’s relative anonymity at Villa would suggest that the move was not a positive one. 3 goals for Carew since January is hardly thrilling, but he came at a far lower price than did Watford’s Ashley Young, who joined Villa at the same time yet has only registered 2 goals. Chris Sutton also failed to deliver, scoring only once in 8 EPL appearances, but he was brought in as a third-stringer, really. Plus, dude is 34, which isn’t a particularly young age for a pro soccer player. An early injury to Luke Moore caused some of the goal-scoring issues, but the rise of Gabby Agbonlahor has been a most welcome and necessary part of Villa’s “fortunes” this season.

I hate to say “I told you so” about Carew, who scored once in 7 league games and once in two Champions League games with Lyon during the first half of the season, but, well, I told you so. Perhaps he will adjust to the English game and Martin O’Neill’s system, but I doubt it. Ashley Young, on the other hand, I had expected a little more out of, especially after he scored on his Villa debut against Newcastle. Both Carew and Young have assists (2 and 3 respectively), but they certainly aren’t playmakers. Young has the chance to prove himself over the next year, but he’ll likely start on the bench behind Moore, who was one of the leading lights of the team until a knee injury kept him out for several months. Both Young and Moore are in their early 20s (both are currently 21, but Young will turn 22 in July) and so they have yet to realize their full potential. Young has perhaps the better “upside” but Moore has proven himself more consistent so far.

Overestimating Moore’s impact is, of course, easy to do, but his record is decent, especially when compared to Young’s. 2 of his 4 goals came after his injury and perhaps that means he’ll be able to reproduce his form from the 2005/06 season which saw him score 8 goals in 16 appearances (7 starts, 11 substitutions).

As I said, Young should also improve and the other young players on the team should be more comfortable with Martin O’Neill’s system. Still, the year was slightly disappointing overall. 11th in the league means nothing more than 17th or 7th (The UEFA Intertoto Cup is the NIT of the NIT of soccer. Like if you went 0-8 in your conference and you still got a bowl bid based on your 2-2 non-conference record. Fantastic! I wish we were in it. Oh wait, no I don’t). However, the UEFA Cup was a possibility that never materialized even though Villa are such nice guys. Going out early-ish in the FA Cup to Manchester United in the 3rd round was a tough break as ManU have proven somewhat good this season and the loss came only after second-string keeper Gabor Kiraly made a silly error and gifted the second goal of a 2-1 defeat in stoppage time. A loss nonetheless. [The other goal was Henrik Larsson’s first of two goals for Manchester United. I’m a big Larsson fan from his few days at Barcelona, but I was definitely rooting against him in that game…] The Carling Cup ended in a disaster in Round 4 after a 4-0 drubbing by eventual champions Chelsea. A pathetic performance with only 1 shot on goal, but it was against Chelsea’s first team. Still: ouch.

The team made strides and finished the year strongly, not losing in their last 9 games (4 wins, 5 draws), which bodes well for next year, though there will no doubt be some rather large changes either through arrivals or departures will which cause Villa to need to re-bond as a unit in order to not finish in the bottom half of the league table. Some analysts have suggested Villa look for more strikers, but a stronger midfield should also be on the agenda. Nigel Roe-Coker of West Ham has been suggested and Steven Naismith, the Scottish Premier League Young Player of the Year as well as keeper Craig Gordon could be on their way to Villa Park, but with Jlloyd Samuel off to Bolton, a solid defender should be found at some point, though not an expensive one since all the serious cash should be put towards someone who can create goals. There are several players in Scotland that O’Neill would like to nab, but maybe looking to the continent, especially Spain, would do some wonders for Villa.

Next season, arch-rivals Birmingham are back in the Premier League and Villa are going to have to soundly beat them in 2 matches. Sounds like a good old time.

For now, a good season and until the preview of the next one, enjoy the other Cleveland sports.

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League | 2 Comments »

DZ Power Rankings

Posted by disappointmentzone on 3 May 2007

The Disappointment Power Rankings is back and, frankly, the minions who’ve been cramming the numbers are a little confused. It seems that there is a lot of, you know, good news to factor into the rankings this month. The high tech machines used to make the computations just aren’t equipped to handle good news. We’re installing a software patch that should take care of the problem. In the meantime, these rankings are straight from the hip and lack the rigorous analysis that usually goes into them. The rankings, therefore, are provisional and possibly inadequate.

1) Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs have waltzed into the second round of the NBA Playoffs after sweeping the lowly and undermanned Washington Wizards. Fret not about how close the games were. If there is one thing the Cavs are not about it’s wasting energy against lesser opponents (see: regular season losses to Bobcats, Celtics, et al). But if there is a thing the Cavs are about it’s expending that saved up energy in games that actually matter. I would be very afraid if I were the Nets or Raptors. LBJ just might start trying and that’s scary.

2) Cleveland Browns

When the Browns drafted Joe Thomas I was so happy I nearly yelped. Keep in mind that I was alone and in a library and am by disposition not prone to sudden outbursts. The team made the right draft choice for the first time since, well, at least since coming back to Cleveland. And then they got Brady Quinn, about whom I’d like to say something: Before the draft I was very much against the Browns drafting Quinn. This was in part because I thought the team needed to address the offensive line but it was also become Quinn went to Notre Dame and that’s just about as certain a way of securing my disdain as anything (going to Fichigan is more certain-er). But now that he’s a Cleveland Brown I gladly (if reluctantly) throw my support completely behind him and I will follow him…until/unless he turns into a bust.

3) Cleveland Indians

The Indians are tied for the best record in baseball (in terms of winning %) with our favorite NL team, the Milwaukee Brewers. Should the year play out as the first month has played out and we end up with a Cleveland-Milwaukee World Series, would Cleveland every really play an away game, and wouldn’t that be too huge an advantage for the Brewers to overcome? The answers: no, yes. Which means a World Series Championship for the Indians. But it’s still only May and the season is long. The good news is that the team is not playing particularly well. The Indians are outperforming their Pythagorean Expected Wins by two games — a nice departure from last season — and so who knows what the team is capable of when playing well. Actually, a lot of people probably know the answer to that: winning by more runs than they are now.

4) Ohio State Football Buckeyes

The good: Anthony Gonzalez was drafted in the first round by the Colts. This was one of my favorite draft choices by a non-Browns team. Gonzalez will have a better rookie year than Calvin Johnson. Mark my words. The less good: Troy Smith falling to Baltimore. It’s nice seeing Smith land with a team that’s a very good fit for him, but it’s terrible to see Smith land with the Ravens. Why? Two reasons. 1) In the same spirit that a US Citizen can’t be drafted into the French Navy (more or less…) no Cleveland native should be allowed to be drafted by Ravens. 2) I think Smith will eventually turn into a better-than-average NFL QB and loathe the prospect of having to watch the Browns play against him twice a year. Remember when I said that now that Quinn is a Cleveland Brown I’ll root for him? Is the reverse true? Now that Smith is a Raven do I have to root against him? Being a sports fan is tough sometimes.

5) Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes

Goodbye Greg Oden, we hardly knew thee. Goodbye Mike Conley. I hope the fact that you don’t have a jump shot doesn’t ruin your chances of earning that oh-so-valuable second contract in the NBA (stay in school, young man!). Goodbye Daequan Cook. The fact that you are even putting your name in the ring makes me want to laugh. I hope you’re a fan of the D League. That’s where you’re headed if you don’t return to Columbus.

6) Aston Villa

Aston Villa is practically dead to me.

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League, Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Sports, flotsam and Jetsam | 4 Comments »

Disappointment Zone power rankings

Posted by disappointmentzone on 25 March 2007

The DZ power rankings took a ten week vacation, but are back. During the break they were revamped and I can now promise that these rankings are 400% more scientifically valid than their predecessors. Sheldon Ocker should find solace in this fact. These power rankings certainly aren’t as flimsy as those silly Sports Illustrated power rankings. Whereas SI has to cover all those baseball teams — and there sure are a lot of them, at least 17 — the Disappointment Zone is dedicated to just six teams, certainly a much more manageable quantity. Herewith, then, are the rankings for Sunday, March 25th.

1) Cleveland Indians

If you ignore the ramblings of the local curmudgeons who profess that by covering a team they are somehow more expert in matters pertaining to the team (see: Ocker) and instead focus on those national media dandies, all flash and no substance (see: Gammons), then the picture is clear: the Cleveland Indians are the team to beat this season. Hope springs eternal and right now the Indians are undefeated in 2007 and are poised to pick up a pennant and World Series championship. They are the undeniably most powerful team in the universe. They are the Platonic ideal of a baseball team.

2) Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes

We are hedging here by not considering the woman’s team (not that you were thinking of them, either, especially since they were bounced out of the NCAAs a while ago), but the men’s OSUBB are having a pretty nice run right now, what with 21 straight victories and a spot in the Final Four. Maybe they should be #1, but the Buckeyes can actually lose a chance to win the NCAA championship in a week whereas the Indians can’t lose a chance to win the World Series until at least May. That’s enough to keep them in check, at least for this week.

3) Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James is now both awake and interested. Enough said.

4) Cleveland Browns

The Browns have the third pick in an incredibly talent-ridden draft, and yet somehow few people seem placated by the many positive possibilities open to the team. The obvious strategy is to stay put and draft Joe Thomas. It’s also the simplest strategy. It’s also the most fool-proof strategy. That said, it’s not the strategy I think the team will take, which puts me squarely in the camp of concerned Browns fans. Besides, half the team is going to develop a drug addiction when Jamal Lewis starts dealing coke during the bye week.

5) Ohio State Football Buckeyes

The team hasn’t disgraced Ohio football by losing to Florida in nearly three months, so that’s a plus. (Is anyone else concerned that Florida will beat OSU for the basketball championship as well?)

6)

Aston Villa

Aston Villa is dead to me. By far the worst Cleveland-related football team in the world.

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League, Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Indians, flotsam and Jetsam, Ohio State Buckeyes | 5 Comments »

Disappointment Zone power rankings

Posted by disappointmentzone on 13 January 2007

I’ve taken a hiatus from posting because the shadow of Black Monday is long and dark. I have nothing else to say about this. Let’s move on.

1) Cleveland Cavaliers

The possibility of a perfect January went out the window on Thursday when the Cavs dropped a game against the Suns, but a perfect January was never a tenable possibility to begin with. Not only is winning 16 games in 31 days really tough, but when 10 of those games are on the road, seven of those games are on one road trip, and two of those games are the second halves of back-t0-backs…That’s a tall order. January is probably the toughest month for the Cavs this season, but suddenly the Cavs look like the sort of team that might able to deal with such a stretch with relative ease (unlike last year’s team, which played poorly on the west coast road trip). I’m not saying the Cavs will win all the road games the rest of the month, but 4-3 is a realistic expectation for this road trip and 7-3 is completely within the team’s grasp for road games in January. Plus, the Cavs are in first place in the Eastern Conference.

2) Cleveland Indians

True, the Indians lost out on the Mark Mulder sweepstakes, but nothing can damped the Indians’ offseason so far. The folks at Let’s Go Tribe have a nice break down of the current (and final?) 40-man roster and scanning through it one cannot help being filled with the sort of high hopes and soaring spirits that usually lead to the catastrophic let-downs common to Indians fans. The ground always hurts more the higher one falls, but for the moment let’s enjoy the view. We have a new second baseman who will be under our control for a long time — a second baseman who has the potential to be a stud — and the crappy bullpen from last season is almost beyond recognition. Plus, we still have Sizemore, and Hafner, and Martinez, and Sabathia, and, and, and. There is no reason not to be hopeful right now, which I understand might cause a bit of anxiety. Just try to suppress it for as long as you can.

3) Cleveland Browns

Everything went according to plan and now the Browns are but a coin flip away for the third pick in the 2007 NFL draft. You have to be excited about this. I am. The Browns would rank higher except that they finished the season 4-12 and Charlie Frye is still the quarterback.

4) Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes

Can’t beat Florida. Can’t beat Wisconsin. Can barely beat Tennessee. Whatever. We have Greg Oden. His line from the Tenn. game: 24 points (9-13 fg, 6-6 ft) and 15 rebounds. If only the team can stop turning the ball over.

5) Aston Villa

Aston Villa just lost to Man U. Aston Villa is not very good. Soccer Spot, tell us why!

6) Ohio State Football Buckeyes

I have nothing to say.

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League, Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Indians, Ohio State Buckeyes | 5 Comments »

Disappointment Zone power rankings

Posted by disappointmentzone on 30 December 2006

Once again it’s time for another installment of the most critically evaluated, factually sound feature of this blog: the Disappointment Zone power rankings! Again, the rankings are painstakingly researched and of a purity of logic not found outside of university philosophy departments. Do not argue with the DZ power rankings. They make too much sense and are too important to the Cleveland, OH sports landscape to be triffled with. Unless you have something smart and/or funny to say. Then by all means say it.

1) Cleveland Indians

The Indians come in at #1 more by default than actual achievement — no other team deserves this spot. Keith Foulke looks to be on his way, but this isn’t the Foulke of 2003. Unless he’s equipped with new knees and arms I remain skeptical about the potential positive influence he might have in 2007. In other news, Mark Moulder has narrowed his choices down to the Indians and two other teams that don’t matter. The Indians already have a ton of starting pitching for this season, but more starting pitching is always a good idea. Plus, no Indians have suffered any serious injuries or developed any drug habits. And we still have Choo and Barfield. Consider the Choo. Consider the Barfield. Yes. Yes.

2) Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs are one of the best defensive teams in the league. This is something to savior. The Cavs do something well as a team. Lord knows the defense isn’t being carried by LBJ. Of course, if the Cavs were terrible on defense it would be incredibly hard to justify allowing Eric Snow to play organized basketball for pay. And even with the job he’s doing against the Joe Johnsons of the Association, which is a pretty good job, I must admit, it’s hard to watch him play every night. But good team defense. We can hang our hat on that one.

3) Cleveland Browns

Getting beaten by the Bucs at home is never a good thing. Losing your starting quarterback is also unfortunate. Starting Ken Dorsey because your starting quarterbacks are both injured is downright depressing. On the plus side: higher draft pick! So it’s a push.

4) The Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes

I think Greg Oden both has had children and has eaten them. I also think Greg Oden would make a really great clown. Reconciling these two points is not difficult, and for that reason I won’t drop the OSUBB below the fourth spot. Not getting killed by Florida would help them move up.

5) Aston Villa

Injuries and signings, signings and injuries. Aston Villa used to never lose. Now they never win. Looks like the Lerner touch extends beyond the pond. That said, they are still the best Cleveland-related football team in the universe. They just aren’t ranked as high as that other Cleveland-related football team this week. Try to wrap your head around that one.

6) The Ohio State Football Buckeyes

Sage Waldon still reigns supreme. Play a game, OSUFB. Stop cowering at home, maintaining your undefeated status not by winning games but by not playing games and therefore not losing games. BYU and Hawaii have won games since you last played. Hell, even Kentucky has won a game. You disgust me. Losers.

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League, Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Indians, flotsam and Jetsam, Ohio State Buckeyes | Leave a Comment »

Aston Villa: a look ahead part II

Posted by disappointmentzone on 26 December 2006

Soccer Spot. Enough said.

Aston Villa review and Shopping List part 2

Aston Villa didn’t play a game this weekend. They didn’t lose to Manchester United and certainly didn’t get blown out 0-3 at home. Didn’t happen. All that happened was manager Martin O’Neill got a better understanding of what he’ll need during the January transfer window. That’s all. Really, though, Villa played decently at first, even hitting the post at one point, but then petered out as United began to get the upper hand and dominate both possession and chances. The main issue was defense, though obviously the inability to score was evident once again by the typical goose egg on the Villa side of the scoreboard.

Best news of the weekend, though, is that as of December 19, Villa have the third best player in the EPL: midfielder Gareth Barry. If you’re an EPL buff you probably don’t think of Barry just behind Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard, but how can you argue with something “statistically proven to identify the best players“? So kudos Barry and kudos to Actim for knowing what’s what.

Good news coming from the BBC: Villa look like they’re going to offer Tottenham ₤12million (~$20million) for striker Jermaine Defoe, which should ease some of the concerns up front. If that is a suggestion that Villa have at least that much to spend on each midfield and defense, then Villa could make a second half run for a spot in Europe (though it’s probably too much to imagine a Champions League spot – they’re 8 points down on 4th place Arsenal). Darrent Bent has also been suggested as a potential striking addition and I’m not sure who would be better, Defoe or Bent—I think Bent would be a better value since he would probably cost less, though he has less of an upside. Even if these deals don’t happen (there is speculation that Tottenham won’t want to deal Defoe during January), it shows that Villa are willing to invest in their squad rather than limp through the remaining months of the season. One move that could be in the works is Celtic’s Shaun Maloney (22) who is currently refusing to sign a contract with the Hoops, which bodes well for anyone looking to grab him up. He’s young, energetic, and by all accounts worth a small transfer fee now instead of waiting for the summer when he’ll be free. He won the Scottish Premiership Football Association Player of the Year award last season as well as Young Player of the Year. So that would be a pretty good grab for Villa.

Anyway, here’s a short look at the midfield and defensive possibilities for Villa:

Midfielders

Manchester City’s Joey Barton would make a good addition to the squad, despite his occasionally questionable on-the-field behavior (I’d provide a link, but YouTube had deleted all the clips of his shirtless, mooning fun at Everton earlier this year). A pretty good guess for Barton’s price based on previously rejected transfer bids puts him at around ₤5million (~$9million). He’s young, 24, and fully capable of adding some steel to the Villa defensive midfield and some attacking power. West Ham United, however, are reportedly offering around ₤6million ($11million) for Barton, which could put Villa into an unwanted bidding war with another newly purchased and well-financed club.

According to the above-linked BBC article, West Brom’s Zoltan Gera is a possibility, but Barton would certainly be a better signing. Gera is a little older (27) and has less EPL experience, but is perhaps a more consistent and cheaper player. Gera is also perhaps more of a goal scoring threat (Barton takes penalties for Man City, which pads his stats a bit), but not by much if at all.

If Shaun Wright-Philips wants out of Chelsea (or if the club wants him gone, both of which should be the truth), why not at least make a bid for him? He’s a fantastic player and would certainly provide more width to Villa attacks. It’s more of a fantasy than a potential reality (especially since all rumor indicate a return to Man City), but there’s always hope so long as Villa have more money to spend than Man City.

Defenders

The most linked defender is Celtic’s Bobo Balde, who would lend some strength to the back line, but wouldn’t provide a long-term answer to Villa’s defensive woes. Otherwise there aren’t any high-profile defenders currently on the outs with their clubs and it will take some finagling to get anyone of true quality over January. But I wouldn’t discount O’Neill’s shrewdness and understanding of what it will take to make a mediocre player a solid one.

Goalies

According to the Football Transfer League, Wolverhampton’s Matt Murray is Villa’s target, though a ₤2million ($3.5million) price tag might put a dent in that plan.

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League | 3 Comments »