The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for the ‘media’ Category

How Bill Livingston Failed Cleveland

Posted by disappointmentzone on 27 November 2007

On Sunday Bill Livingston, columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, wrote an column imploring the Browns organization and Browns fans to be clear minded when approaching the topic of Derek Anderson, who is set to become a free agent after this season. Livingston lays out a list of reasons why it would be reckless to sign Anderson to a long-term contract extension and then argues that the Browns should offer him a one-year contract for $2.5 million.

This makes sense. Such a contract would give the Browns ample protection against losing Anderson. The team could still match any offer Anderson received and if they didn’t match the offer then they’d be compensated with the first-round and third-round draft picks of the team that does sign him. This is a heavy bounty for any NFL team to pay, especially for a quarterback with only a year of NFL experience, which is why such huge signings rarely take place. Simply put, if the Browns want to keep Anderson around for one more season without doing serious damage to their salary cap then they’ll likely be able to do so. The $2.5 million contract offer is the best way to do that. Barring something completely unforeseen, this is what will happen.

So why did I call Livingston’s column idiotic?

My issue with Livingston’s column is that it fails spectacularly to address the interests of any faction of Browns fans. It takes an extraordinary effort to swing and miss that spectacularly. Let’s dive in to how he accomplished such a feat.

Livingston’s column begins with a simplistic view of Anderson’s performances so far this season, which serves as the basis for his argument that it would be reckless to sign him to a big contract. For example, Livingston writes:

“Most of Anderson’s big games have come against the league’s dregs. His two monster games were against Miami (now 0-10) and St. Louis (now 2-8). Cincinnati provided his third big quarterback rating game.”

Simply put, that Anderson’s best games came against his worst opponents is the dumbest rationale for anything ever. I do not know what this is supposed to prove. Were I playing small forward for the Knicks and assigned to guard LeBron James I would hope he’d have his best game against me. But that he had his best game against me wouldn’t prove anything about his ability as a player, and it certainly wouldn’t provide any evidence against the position that he’s an elite NBA player worthy of a monster contract extension. (1) (2)

Furthermore, in addition to the simplistic view of quarterback performance Livingston also invokes the unfounded view of quarterback performance, citing Anderson’s “two straight unimpressive performances” against the Steelers and Ravens.

When you consider that the Steelers and Ravens lay claim to the NFL’s first and sixth best defenses it is worth placing Anderson’s performances against each in context. After all, that’s what Livingston does when considering his games against weaker competition. So in context how does Anderson stack up?

Against the Steelers Anderson had a below-average QB Score per play (.46). It’s probably fair to say that this was an unimpressive performance, even if the game came on the road. No arguing with Livingston here. On the whole Anderson did indeed fail to impress against the Steelers.

Against the Ravens, however, Anderson had an above-average QB Score per play (2.59). Only a cynical ignoramus would think that playing above average against an elite defense in a division game on the road would constitute an unimpressive performance.

True, Anderson didn’t put up All Pro numbers against those two teams. But hardly anyone puts up All Pro numbers against these teams. Most quarterbacks put up undeniably terrible numbers in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Anderson falls somewhere in between, and he’s an awful lot closer to the positive end of the spectrum than the negative.

Now, I agree that the prudent thing for the Browns to do is offer Anderson a one-year deal. I don’t think anyone who knows anything about football would disagree. Which is precisely one failing of the column. This column is not serving the needs of interested Browns fans. When you’re the lead sports columnist for the largest newspaper in a region filled with rabid Browns fans, this is probably not the best way to go about things. In this regard he’s preaching to the choir. It’s the column equivalent of the straw man. He mailed it in.

Newsflash, Livy: LeBron James is good at basketball. There, I wrote your next column.

The column he wrote about Anderson best serves people who are only casual fans of football — namely, the people who think locking up Anderson to a six year deal right now is the best option for the Browns. However, if he really meant for this column to be aimed at casual Browns fans then he’s doing them a huge disservice by relying upon simplistic, unfounded views for evaluating a quarterback. He’s misinforming the people. He’s keeping the wool pulled over their eyes. Here’s a guy with an audience of thousands and the opportunity to affect people’s appreciation of sports for the better and yet he does no such thing. In fact, he reinforces bad habits and the same irrational Sports Talk Radio views that make so much of the mainstream sports media difficult to stomach anymore.

In one column Livingston fails the interested fans and fails the casual fans. He fails twice over, which, as I said, is a pretty spectacular feat. Failing on one level isn’t too difficult but failing on all levels really takes some effort. Failing on all levels is also the sign of a bad column.

Which is why I called it idiotic.

fn 1: Please dear god let the Cavs sign LBJ to a monster contract extension.

fn 2: Moreover, in a column imploring Browns fans to think about Anderson with a clear head — the implication being that we’re wonderstruck by inflated statistics earned against inferior competition — there is something incredibly weak about using a straw man Livingston to set up his argument. It’s a pompous move that’s completely full of bluster, like when a senile man on the streets says that unless you stop wearing red the devil will get you.


Posted in Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Sports, media | 16 Comments »

Ooooh, Smack!

Posted by disappointmentzone on 2 October 2007

Anyone who reads the Cleveland papers knows that the PD’s sports page is terrible. For a long time people have wondered how the largest paper in the area could cover the area’s sports teams so poorly and keep employed such lousy columnists (Livingston and Shaw) and now it looks like we have the beginnings of an answer.

Enter Cleveland Scene, the local indie paper who managed to get a PD Sports Dept employee to pen an anonymous blog about what it’s like on the inside. Anonymous calls the Sports Dept a “glowing bastion of ineptitude” and calls Livingston and Shaw “prima donna/big ego/my crap-don’t-stink columnists”. It gets better so make sure to click the link to read all the juicy details.

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Cleveland Indians 2007 ALDS schedule

Posted by disappointmentzone on 30 September 2007

The Cleveland Indians will be hosting the New York Yankees in the American League Divisional Series beginning on Thursday, October 4th. Here is the schedule for the five game series (home games in red):

GAME 1: Thursday, October 4th: TBS, 6:30 pm

  • CC Sabathia (19-7, 3.21 ERA) vs Chien-Ming Wang (19-7, 3.70)

GAME 2: Friday, October 5th: TBS, 5:00 pm

  • Fausto Carmona (19-8, 3.06) vs Andy Pettitte (15-9, 4.05)

GAME 3: Sunday, October 7th: TBS or TNT, 6:30 pm

  • Jake Westbrook (6-9, 4.32) vs Roger Clemens (6-6, 4.18)

GAME 4: Monday October 8th: TBS, 6:00 pm (if necessary)

  • Paul Byrd (15-8, 4.59) vs TBD

GAME 5: Wednesday, October 10th: TBS, 5:00 pm (if necessary)

  • CC Sabathia (19-7, 3.21 ERA) vs TBD


These are the tentative starters as were announced Sunday night. The Indians’ starter for Game 4 will likely be determined by how the first three games of the series go. The rationale for starting Byrd in Game 4 is that it would allow Carmona to start Game 1 of the ALCS on complete rest. But there will be no Game 1 of the ALCS for the Indians if they can’t put away the Yankees, so if the team is in trouble I imagine Wedge would use Sabathia on short rest and slot Carmona in for Game 5 and then figure it out from there.


Indians postseason TV schedule [UPDATE 3x]

Posted in Cleveland Indians, media | 5 Comments »

Grading LBJ on SNL

Posted by disappointmentzone on 29 September 2007

LeBron James hosted the season premier of Saturday Night Live. Here’s how he did.

Opening monologue: LeBron comes out looking very tall and very velvety and also a little nervous. Fortunately his monologue is mostly a pre-recorded commercial for Nike. That’s one way of dealing with stage fright. And now we’re back to LeBron. The joke is that he solved the universal health care crisis while the Nike commercial pre-recorded bit was running, only we missed it. Seriously, do you think LBJ has ever thought about universal health care in his life? I say no. Does that make the monologue funnier or sadder? I say both. LBJ Grade: C

Sketch 1: Charity Speech Hey, it’s LeBron playing a professional basketball player named LeBron James! Interestingly the character LeBron James is playing holds many of the same records as the real LeBron James, like youngest player to score 1000 points. I wonder how many SNL writers it took to come up with this character. Four? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers, flotsam and Jetsam, media | 2 Comments »

TV Highlights: Sept 28-30

Posted by disappointmentzone on 28 September 2007

Here’s a quick guide to maximizing your weekend sports viewing. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Sports, media, Ohio State Buckeyes | Leave a Comment »

Cleveland and The Power 100 List

Posted by disappointmentzone on 27 September 2007

Anyone around here tired of blog posts that involve Cleveland and power rankings? Well you might want to skip over this post because Business Week just dropped its list of the 100 most powerful people in sports and Cleveland is well represented. (1)

LeBron James is the only Cleveland athlete to make the list. He comes in at #19. That might seem a little low until you realize that he’s the fourth highest ranked professional athlete. Only Tiger Woods (2), Peyton Manning (13), and David Beckham (17) are more powerful than LeBron James, but that could all change this Saturday when he hosts SNL. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in flotsam and Jetsam, media | 2 Comments »

What’s the matter with Kansas? Week 4

Posted by disappointmentzone on 27 September 2007

What’s the matter with Kansas? is the Disappointment Zone’s weekly report on the voting of the 65 media members who cast ballots in the AP Top 25 College Football Poll.

After blowing out a completely underwhelming Northwestern squad last Saturday the Ohio State Football Buckeyes received no extra love in the AP Top 25 poll. They remain stuck at #8 heading into a prime time showdown with uninspiring Minnesota, owners of one of the worst defenses in the country to go along with an offense that shouldn’t exactly strike fear into anyone’s hearts. The game is on the road, though, so maybe with another convincing win the Buckeyes might be able to leapfrog a Texas team that is ranked #7 not for what they’ve done on the field but for where they started ranked in the preseason. Teams 6-1 are all demonstrably better than the Buckeyes, but four of those teams face each other in the coming weeks and so Ohio State are in a position to ride the misfortunes of others and a relatively easy Big Ten schedule to another BCS controversy. The Buckeyes have a legitimate shot at going undefeated but if the current trends hold and two other teams (Oklahoma and LSU, say) go undefeated as well then Buckeye fans can say goodbye to the BCS title game and hello to comparisons to the Auburn team from a few years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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Thoughts on Cleveland Browns pregame shows

Posted by disappointmentzone on 23 September 2007

I spent Sunday morning watching two Browns pregame shows, Tailgate 19 (WOIO, 11-12p) and Browns Pregame Huddle (WKYC, 11:30-12p). Here are a few thoughts:

Pregame Huddle is far and away a better show than Tailgate 19. Not only does Pregame Huddle feature more substantive coverage of the Browns than Tailgate 19 — a somewhat remarkable feat as the show is thirty minutes shorter — but its overall production value makes Tailgate 19 look like it’s shot in a basement in comparison. Pregame Huddle looks like a TV show. Tailgate 19 looks like cable access.

Pregame Huddle has a solid panel of experts, with Tony Grossi being the best. Of the Plain Dealer‘s three big beat writers Grossi is the most tolerable, but that’s almost by default and probably isn’t saying much. That said, I enjoyed Grossi on Pregame Huddle much more than I thought I would. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in media | 12 Comments »

What’s the matter with Kansas?

Posted by disappointmentzone on 6 September 2007

Each week the AP releases a list of the top 25 college football teams in the country as decided upon by a corp of 65 media members. Each week the AP also releases the ballots of the individual voters. As time permits the Disappointment Zone is going to highlight the best and worst voters each week in a feature that doesn’t yet have an official name, but that could all change depending on Mr. Tom Keegan of Lawrence, Kansas.

Tom Keegen writes for the Lawrence Journal and has a vote in the AP Top 25. This week he gets the honor of voting Ohio State higher than anyone else in the country. How high did he vote the Buckeyes? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in flotsam and Jetsam, media, Ohio State Buckeyes | 3 Comments »

Quick (media) notes

Posted by disappointmentzone on 15 August 2007

1) Terry Pluto has abandoned the sinking ship that is the Akron Beacon-Journal for the slightly greener pastures of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. This is a huge coup for the PD but a far more destructive loss for the ABJ. Pluto was the paper’s flagship writer and one of the few super-talented journalists to work for the ABJ not to leave the paper after having a measure of success.

2) It’s never a positive when the user comments in the blog entry for the Pluto story at the PD are filled with comments like “Great! Now replace [current PD sports writer] with [current ABJ sports writer]!”

3) Though Pluto has the stature and the experience, arguably the most important piece of the ABJ sports team is Brian Windhorst, the Cavs beat writer. Over the last 18 months Windhorst has popped up all over the internet and among basketball fans under the age of 27 his name is probably one of the most recognizable nationally as far as beat writers are concerned. He’s often on ESPN’s Daily Dime and popped up this summer on True Hoop. He’s young, knowledgeable, can write, and has been following LeBron James continuously longer than any other journalist. The point being: Losing Pluto hurts, but losing Windhorst could be the most damaging.

4) Here is another reason why losing Windhorst could cripple the ABJ: He’s the only Cleveland-area sports writer to actually embrace the Internet. In addition to his newspaper/ESPN writing Windhorst maintains a successful sports blog and it is his blogging as much as his reporting that has garnered him as much attention as he’s been receiving.

5) I wouldn’t be surprised that Windhorst leaves the ABJ right around the time of LBJ’s next contract, especially if LBJ re-ups with the Cavs. Any one of the big national media outlets (Fox, ESPN, Yahoo!, SI) would die to hire someone with such close ties to the biggest star in the NBA, someone with name recognition and an internet presence.

6) Speaking of name recognition, Windhorst’s will increase when his new, authoritative book about LBJ is publish (written with Pluto, in fact). Just another reason why the ABJ needs to do whatever it can to hold onto Windhorst.

7) Might Pluto joining the PD portend the departure of one of the two current columnists? (1) Or is the PD thinking of going to a three man rotation?

8) The sports page of PD, internet edition, has this headline: Wright to be tested. How many people, when they saw this, immediately thought that Wright was involved in some performance-enhancing drug problem? I’m one. I’m sure there are others.

9) The Wright story turns out to be about him being tested against the Lions, who will be lining up Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson across from the Browns rookie CB. Wouldn’t a clearer verb be “challenged”? In the current sports vernacular, “tested” is synonymous with drug testing, not athletic competition.

fn 1: Please, please let this be the case.

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