Thursday, March 30, 2006

Thank you, sir,
may I have another?

Last night the Cavaliers clinched their first playoff berth in eight years, and the first for any Cleveland team in more than three. It can mean only one thing.

We are about to get screwed again.

If you think there's no crying in baseball, you haven't watched a playoff series in Cleveland. In Cleveland, when it comes to the playoffs, there's crying in baseball, there's crying in football, and there's crying in basketball. There's so much crying in Cleveland, Adam Morrison is thinking of moving here.

Consider our recent playoff experiences (with "recent" a relative term):

* The Browns last two playoff losses were to the Steelers, in 2003 and 1994.
* The Cavs are 5-18 in their last six playoff series, from the 1992-93 season through the 1997-98 season.
* The Indians have choked away a World Series (1997), lost a best-of-five series which they led 2-0 (to Boston, in 1999), and lost another best-of-five series which they led 2-1 (to Seattle, in 2001).

And our teams don't just lose in the playoffs. They tease us. The Browns held a 17-point lead in the third quarter in that 2003 playoff game only to allow Tommy Maddox to bring the Steelers all the way back with 22 fourth-quarter points in a 36-33 victory. And the Indians took that 2-0 series lead against Boston in 1999, then gave up 44 runs in the last three games. in 2001 they reversed it, winning two out of the first three against the Mariners before packing up the bats and scoring just three runs in the final two games. The Cavs just teased us by choking away a sure playoff spot a year ago. At least usually once they make the playoffs, they've had the decency to simply get blown out rather than offer us false hope. Well, except for The Shot.

You sure you want the playoffs? You can't handle the playoffs! Our teams take us to the brink of ecstasy only to open the trapdoor beneath our feet at the last second. Our teams are Lucy holding the football, and we're Charlie Brown kicking at air every time another playoff series comes around.

The ride begins again at the end of the month. Prepare yourselves, cause God's driving.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dance girls
gone wild

42 years and counting since our last championship, and now even our cheerleaders can't get it done. In the NBA Dance Team Bracket run by, the Cavalier Girls didn't even make it out of the first round. Apparently our women aren't even hot enough! That they lost to the Magic Dancers from Orlando might be easy to take -- after all, aren't women from Florida SUPERhot? -- if only the Magic Dancers hadn't to the FREAKING NEW JERSEY NET DANCERS in Round 2.

Sorry, but nothing from New Jersey is remotely attractive. It's a good state for musicians, what with Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi and the Fountains of Wayne, but hot chicks? They call it the Garden State for a reason, and that's to trick everyone into thinking it's a decent place to live. There wasn't even a real reason to name New Jersey the Garden State, as Governor Robert Meynor pointed out when he vetoed the idea. He was overruled, New Jersey became the Garden State, and now their "hot" chicks are winning NBA Dance Team Bracket contests.

Losing to Florida girls, acceptable. But when the Florida girls then go on to lose an attractiveness contest to girls from New Jersey, you know there's some higher power at work.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

You sure you want
to be "That Guy" in Cleveland?

So Cleveland native and NFL Pro Bowler LeCharles Bentley wants to be "That Guy", which is very dangerous now that he has signed a free-agent contract with the Browns. As various Cleveland "That Guys" have learned over the years, being "That Guy" in Cleveland is kinda like being "Extra Counselor" in a Friday the 13th movie. You really don't want that title, because doom awaits.

But Bentley welcomes the challenge:

"This is my ultimate dream. Every day, I wished this could've happened. This is where my roots are and where I want to blossom… This is absolutely a dream come
true. This is it for me right here. Now I can die happy... I grew up watching Bernie Kosar and Webster Slaughter. I idolized those guys. I want to be that guy. I feel right now I'm going to be that guy."
Be careful, LeCharles. In Cleveland, "That Guy" ends up throwing an interception into the end zone in the playoffs with the team in field-goal range. In Cleveland, "That Guy" fumbles the ball on the 1-yard line with seconds to go when trying to tie the game. In Cleveland, "That Guy" gives up a game-tying sacrifice fly to friggin' Craig Counsell in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series. In Cleveland, "That Guy" goes flying over the handlebars of his motorcycle. Even Lebron James, the "That Guy" of "That Guys" can't do much more than make the Cavs a decent team without help.

You'd think that a guy who went to a Catholic high school would know that bad things happen to good "That Guys" in Cleveland. Still, LeCharles Bentley is here, along with two other Cleveland natives who you'd think would know better, Joe Jurevicius and Dave Zastudil. Along with free agents Ted Washington and Kevin Shaffer, and with the possible signing of Willie McGinist and others on the horizon, Browns fans haven't been this excited since the team covered the point spread five straight times in 2002.

Someone who doesn't want to be "That Guy", Antonio Bryant, was so afraid of what happens to "That Guy" in Cleveland that he signed with the 49ers in order to catch passes from a guy who has thrown one TD pass and 11 interceptions in his career.

So the Browns landed Jurevicius to help replace Bryant, though they're really counting on previous "That Guys" Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow to make up for Bryant's team-leading 69 catches. Of course, being recent "That Guys" bought Edwards a ripped-up knee and Winslow the flight over his motorcycle's handlebars.

As if LeCharles didn't have enough problems in New Orleans what with Hurricane Katrina and all. If he thought that was tough to deal with, wait til he tries to become "That Guy" in Cleveland.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

An unlikely hero

God works in mysterious ways, and none more mysterious than last night, when He allowed Damon Jones, the self-proclaimed "world's greatest shooter" to self-proclaim it with more than his mouth. Jones' nailed a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired in the Cavs' 98-97 victory over the Toronto Raptors. This on the same day that Jones says he was falsely accused in a sexual assault case. This on the same day that the Cleveland Scene's front-cover article said Jones won't shut up no matter how much the fans boo.

If his name were Earl instead of Damon, the 3-pointer would have rattled in and out and probably come back down to smack him on the head, knocking him out. But life's no TV show, not even a reality TV show, so this time karma didn't take Damon out. Instead, the Cavs extended their winning streak to four games, putting thoughts of another Cleveland Collapse© to rest. For the Cavs to miss the playoffs now, what with an 8½-game lead over the ninth-place Bulls, would take something the word "collapse" couldn't even describe.

So it looks as if the Cavs are going to make it to the playoffs for the first time in nine years, and Cleveland will see its first playoff team since Kelly Holcomb earned himself a barbecue-sauce endorsement in 2003. Be prepared to get on your knees and pray.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A win that feels like a loss

You know that comet that didn't destroy the planet last night? The one that hurtled through space and was on collision course with 11.6 seconds left in the Cavs-Bulls game last night? Of course you don't! And you can thank God for that.

Anyone who turned the game off in the second quarter with the Cavs up 25 obviously doesn't live in Cleveland. Or doesn't believe in God. Anyone who lives in Cleveland or believes in God knows that a 25-point lead for a team that God hates is as safe as walking in the middle of I-77 at rush hour. And sure enough, there were the Bulls with a two-point lead in the waning seconds. For a moment it looked as if our only solace would be the Indians victory to open spring training.

But then the comet came flying through space. With Bruce Willis and his ragtag bunch of oil drillers nowhere to be found, God's attention was diverted. It took Him only 11.6 seconds to save Earth, but that was just enough time for Kirk Hinrich to miss a free throw, Lebron James to find Flip Murray behind the arc, and Flip to hit just his 18th 3-pointer of the season. Andrew Nociani then turned into a statue after the Bulls inbounded and the Cavs won, 92-91.

Unfortunately, there are only so many comets to go around.
Taking one
for the team

C.C. Sabathia has just made every other American baseball player happy by pulling out of the World Baseball Classic, which begins tonight. Originally scheduled to be in the rotation for the United States, Sabathia says, "I'm not ready to pitch in meaningful games this early in the year."

C.C. and Mets closer Billy Wagner were the latest to drop out, meaning old Al Leiter and Gary "Huh?" Majewski have been added to the team. Which should make everyone except the rest of the world happy, as neither of them are Cleveland Indians, meaning God doesn't hate them. Remember the last time a Cleveland player joined a national team? That's right, Lebron and the Olympic team had their worst showing ever.

Which is bad news for Venezuela (Victor Martinez, Rafael Betancourt), Puerto Rico (Eduardo Perez), and Dominican Republic (Jhonny Peralta, Ronnie Belliard). None of these teams has a chance to win the WBC, especially with God now keeping his eye on one less team. By sitting this one out, Sabathia just made the good ole USA a huge favorite.

It's also good news for the Astros, who start exhibition play against the Indians today. We know what God will be doing today at about 1 p.m. EST.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

All Detroit, all the time

See that thing? That's the Cleveland State University Viking mascot. You probably didn't recognize it because next to surfing, there's nothing more irrelevent to the Cleveland sports scene than CSU basketball. Not since Kevin Mackey walked out of a crackhouse 20 years ago has anything that happened at Cleveland State mattered.

But if anyone could ever be excused for beating a dead horse, it's God. Apparently it's Detroit week in Cleveland, because Detroit beat us Sunday, Detroit beat us Monday, and Detroit beat us again yesterday. The "us" on Tuesday was the irrelevent Vikings, who lost 92-58 to Detroit Mercy in the Horizon League tournament opener. No mercy there, that's for sure!

No surprise, either. Detroit has eliminated CSU from the conference tournament four times in the past eight seasons. Since the Vikings have endured five straight losing seasons, have won just 43 games in that time, and have lost 19 straight at Detroit, no one should have expected a different result yesterday.

And don't forget, where did the evil Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl this year??? That's right -- Ford Field in DETROIT!

And lest you think it's just the men's basketball team that endured God's wrath, well, the Viking women also lost in the Horizon tournament yesterday. It wasn't in Detroit or to Detroit, but God likes to throw a curveball every once in awhile.