Monday, October 30, 2006

The curse of ... Maurice Carthon??

Take a look at that picture up there. That's New York Jets tight end Chris Baker making a tying touchdown catch at the end of the game against the Browns yesterday -- maybe. Baker caught the ball but didn't land inbounds, mostly thanks to the hit Browns safety Brodney Pool laid on him. The officials ruled that Baker would not have landed inbounds anyway, and that call was not reviewable. Score one for the Browns.

But take a look at the picture. No, you can't see the sidelines. You can't determine whether Baker would have landed inbounds. But that's not the point. It's all about what you DON'T see in the picture.

No Maurice Carthon!

That's right, banished along with ex-offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon were all the Browns troubles. Carthon went away and in came Reuben Droughns' first 100-yard rushing game of the season and the Browns' second-highest point total of the year. And their second win. All against a team with a winning record. Bye, bye, Maurice Carthon, hello playoffs!

Maybe it actually was all Maurice Carthon's fault and not God's. Some amazing never-before-seen photos point to this. In Abraham Zapruder-like fashion, photos from past Cleveland sporting events seem to support this "grassy knoll" theory. Take a look at these pictures provided EXCLUSIVELY to God Hates Cleveland Sports and see if you notice anything conspiratorial.


We all know that Willie Mays made the most amazing catch in baseball postseason history in Game 1 of the 1954 playoffs between the juggernaut Indians and the upstart San Francisco Giants. We all know Mays caught the ball in dead center field in the Polo Grounds in the top of the eighth of a tie game, sparking the Giants to a series sweep.

But this digitally enhanced, never-before-seen photo shows the REAL reason the Indians were upended in 1954. Look at who's sitting in the front row in center. He's three seats in from the right. He's staring straight at Willie Mays.



And all this time, we thought Maurice Carthon's influence over the Browns only extended back to the beginning of last season. How wrong we were. Now, these pictures are very grainy. But thanks to our computer picture enhancing techniques, we were able to capture these two shots of those infamous AFC Championship games against the Denver Broncos in the 1980s.

First, if you look just over the right shoulder of the Brown pursuing John Elway during The Drive in 1987, you will see a previously unreleased image of MAURICE CARTHON STALKING THE BROWNS' SIDELINES!

A year later, just as Earnest Byner fumbled the ball away on the Broncos' goal line as the Browns tried to tie the game in the closing minutes, MAURICE CARTHON APPEARED ON THE BROWNS' SIDELINE AGAIN!

This incontrovertible evidence shows just how much Maurice Carthon has jinxed Cleveland sports through the years -- especially the Browns.


Until now, Michael Jordan got all the credit for beating the Cavs in 1989. However, our enhanced digital technology has uncovered the truth.

And no wonder it took all this time. How could any individual be picked out from the sea of people at the other end of the court? But there he is, front row just to the right of the key -- MAURICE CARTHON!

All these years we thought it was the Cavs who created Michael Jordan. But it was really Maurice Carthon. Just like Mr. Glass in Unbreakable, it's Maurice Carthon who created all of Cleveland's arch-villains. He made Elway Elway and he made Jordan Jordan, just by being there.


If you blinked, you missed him. But Maurice Carthon found himself in Florida for Game 7 of the 1997 World Series and decided to take in the game. Somehow he got himself down in the photographer's pit along the third-base line.

You know what happened then.

Sources tell GHCS that they are investigating other ignominious moments in Cleveland history, such as the Cuyahoga River catching on fire, the Hough riots, and the East Ohio Gas Explosion to see if Maurice Carthon indeed played a role. If it is true that Maurice Carthon has cursed Cleveland and not God, then perhaps we have exorcised our demons just in time for the Cavs season.

Monday, October 23, 2006

We've seen this before

Even God's running out of ideas.

The Browns are a television show that's aired far too long. There's no original material left; plot lines repeat themselves. Offensive line stinks? Did that one during season one. And two. And three. Can't score? An ongoing theme. Ruptured patellar tendon? Hell, we already did that story in the first episode of this season -- but let's do it again and make it twice as bad!

Just like Bailey was always worried about falling off the wagon, just like Ross and Rachel ran circles around each other for 10 years, just like every doctor on ER is doing the same thing all the other doctors on ER did a decade ago even though they are all different doctors, nothing ever changes for the Browns. They still can't block. They still can't score. They still have a crummy offensive coordinator. They still have a quarterback who just ain't that good. And nothing changes. Everyone just finds different excuses.

When this same team returned from the dead seven seasons ago, we had a mobile quarterback who ran for his life behind a crummy offensive line. In his first season, when he played 15 games, Tim Couch completed 15 passes and threw 13 interceptions while completing 55.9% of his 399 passes. Karim Abdul-Jabbar and Terry Kirby were the Browns' top backs while Kevin Johnson and Darrin Chiaverini led the team in receptions. Those guys can't even get into the Hall of Fame with tickets.

Now Charlie Frye has actual talent to throw to, but in 11 starts hasn't even shown signs of being as good as Tim Couch. Frye has completed 60.8% of his 365 passes for 10 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The great scrambler has gained only 131 yards on 38 tries for a 3.4 average. Four went for touchdowns. Tim Couch? He ran 39 times for 278 yards and one touchdown that first season. That's TWICE as many yards.

If Charlie Frye were from Willard, Missouri instead of Willard, Ohio, we'd be calling for Ken Dorsey by now.

Seriously, we are repeating the first season of Browns 2.0. We just replaced the guys who play the main characters. They did it with Darin on Bewitched, they do it with James Bond, they did it with Becky on Roseanne (even bringing back the original actress to replace her replacement (the ever hot Sarah Chalke, now on Scrubs)), and they're doing it with the Browns.

Charlie Frye IS Tim Couch. Center Hank Fraley IS Jim Pyne. Wide receiver Joe Jurevicius IS Darrin
Chiaverini. Head coach Romeo Crennell IS Chris Palmer. Kicker Phil Dawson is, well, Phil Dawson. It's just different characters playing the same role, doing the same things they did seven years ago. Don't forget, that 1999 Browns team won two games, just like this one will!

Unfortunately, hardly anyone IS good. So we're banished by God to remake hell, forced to watch the same thing over and over -- miserable loss after miserable loss. Welcome to Dante's 10th level of Hell, Cleveland sports.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Crashing the party

Imagine talking to the prettiest girl at the party all night long. Imagine her interest in you as you make her laugh, as you compliment her dress, as you admire her hair. Imagine her smiling as you talk about how good she is at her job, about her favorite rock and roll band, about her crazy yet irrepressibly beloved mother. Imagine her touching your arm, sharing her phone number, and talking about going to see her favorite rock and roll band when it comes to town next week.

Then imagine the front door bursting open as a young, strapping, semifashionable young man enters carrying a bottle of champagne wrapped in a bow. He smiles as he enters the room, and you see all eyes on him. You see him scan the room, then lock eyes with the prettiest girl in the room -- the girl you have been chatting with all night. Eyes on the prize, he moves in. You're left standing alone against the wall.

Now imagine being a Cleveland Indians fans and watching the Detroit Tigers knock off the New York Yankees in the first round of the playoffs. Imagine watching catcher Pudge Rodriguez spray champagne on the fans through the net behind home plate; imagine watching Jim Leyland kiss his wife through the net, then kiss a drunk Tiger fan on the hat; imagine hearing a sellout crowd roaring with delight.

After yesterday, there's no imagining required. The Tigers are that young, strapping, semifashionalbe young man who have entered the room carrying a bottle of champagne with their eyes on the prize. After 14 consecutive losing seasons and no playoff appearances in 20 years, the Tigers now have claws once again.

Meanwhile, the Indians and their fans are sitting along the wall, all alone, wondering how everything has slipped away. After all, didn't the Tribe do everything right? Didn't they harvest the farm system, lock up their young players, and put together a top offense? Didn't the Indians' brain trust, spearheaded by GM Mark Shapiro, put a plan into place to spur the Indians back into contention?

Remember when after the Florida Marlins beat the Indians in the 1997 World Series, then sold off their team, then-GM John Hart said the Tribe would remain a contender by doing things "the right way"? Of course, the Marlins won another World Series before the Indians even got back to one.

And now the Tigers have vaulted to the top, right where the Indians thought they would be. So the Indians will enter Year 5 of the sped-up rebuilding plan trying to build around the edges of what they already view as a championship contender. They'll keep chatting up the prettiest girls, like B.J. Ryan, like Trevor Hoffman, like Nomar Garciaparra, and hope that strapping young men like the Tigers don't keep crashing the party and stealing away the prize. Maybe the Indians need to call Charles Atlas and stop playing the role of 97-pound weakling.

The Art of revenge

For one day, all Cleveland fans should move to Philadelphia. On Sunday, their Art Modell returns.

Today Terrell Owens returns to Philly, just one season after one season after trying to sabotage the franchise. Heck, one season? Try five games into the next season. What do you think will happen in a city where they once booed Santa Claus at a game? Not only does TO have a running, high schoolish rivalry with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb -- ooooh, did he receive my text message??? -- but he was suspended from the Eagles halfway through last season as Philly coach Andy Reid cut off his nose to spite his face. And now his return has inspired extra security at the Dallas Cowboys/Eagles game Sunday.

It's the revenge scenario Clevelanders dreamed about but never experienced once Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore. For years afterward, Modell never came back to town to watch a Ravens/Browns game, for fear that he would be killed, or worse. From the moment Modell announced the Browns were moving, Cleveland Municipal Stadium became hostile territory for Art, what with "Jump Art" signs and corporate sponsors removing their advertising. It inspired the Art Modell Death Watch (1995 until forever).

These types of things happen everywhere except Cleveland. A-Rod came back to Seattle and Texas after asking out of both places. Pat Riley returned to New York to face "Benedict Riley" signs after leaving the team he took to the NBA Finals. Bill Parcells left the New England Patriots the night after he led them to the Super Bowl, then returned as New York Jets coach. We were able to shower fake dollar bills on Albert Belle and boo Jim Thome, but our Joker, our Lex Luthor, and our Green Goblin all rolled into one never came back to face the music.

Remember those "Jump Art" signs? Remember the fans ripping seats out of the stadium after the real Browns last home game? Remember the Sports Illustrated cover showing a caricature of Art punching a Browns fan in the stomach? All we wanted was revenge. All we wanted was Art to come back to face the music, sitting in his luxury box with palm pressed to forehead while the new Browns took on the real Browns. Even if the Baltimore Ravens won, no one would have cared as long as we were able to spend three hours booing Art Modell.

It was never going to happen. It wasn't death Art was afraid of, but bad PR, bad television. You can bet the NFL's TV partners advised Art not to return, because they would broadcast three hours of Cleveland revenge. Even if the Browns couldn't beat the Ravens -- which rarely happens, as the Ravens are 10-5 against the new Browns -- it wouldn't matter. We would hate on Art Modell like he was an old girlfriend who had wronged us, and came back thinking everything was all right.

But we couldn't even get that. Art never came back, the Browns have sucked ever since, and Modell got his Super Bowl championship in 2001. Not since Han Solo was encased in carbonite and the Empire had seemingly destroyed the Rebel forces had anyone so evil came out on top. Art never did come back for any football games, but what did it matter after 2001? The Ravens won, Art got over, and we never even got to release our anguish through booing.

Philly fans get a different treat. Donovan McNabb will carry Philly's everyman on his back tomorrow, as he gets a chance to stick it to his, and every Philadelphian's, playground rival. They've even got a good team which is favored to beat the Cowboys.

But not in Cleveland. In Cleveland, we're left with blue balls and the unendearing image of Art Modell dancing with Ray Lewis while celebrating a Super Bowl championship in Baltimore. We're left with pictures of the girl we loved and treated like a queen for her entire life leaving for no reason and hooking up with the prom king and former quarterback whose done nothing but stick his rocklike jaw out and smile his whole life. We're left with a rotten taste in our mouths that nothing has washed away in half a decade, and most likely nothing ever well. We're left, like usual, holding a bagful of empty promises and broken dreams.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ex-Indians doom Padres

Stay classy, San Diego. You're going to need to after your Padres get bounced out of the playoffs by the St. Louis Cardinals. That's the only thing that will get you through the next six months. You see, you are about to get bounced by the St. Louis Cardinals, the team that played out the final 10 days of the season as if MLB still played a 154-game schedule.

The Cardinals held a 7½-game lead over the Houston Astros the next-to-last week of the season. Heading into the final weekend, St. Louis was in a virtual tie with the Astros, leading by just a half game. But the Cards did just enough -- in effect, watch Houston lose on television -- to sneak into the playoffs and avoid the Greatest Choke Ever.™ Now the Cards have the worst odds of any of the NL teams for making the World Series. And the Padres are 8:5 favorites to bounce the perennial NL Central champs.

It's not going to happen. While we don't know who will win the World Series, we definitely know who won't. That's the Padres. The GHCS Playoff Formula tells us that.

It's quite simple, actually. Just figure out which team has the most ex-Cleveland ballplayers, and eliminate it. In the case of ties, whichever team has the players who played in Cleveland most recently will lose. And the Padres, with six former Indians, head the list. Any team with that much bad karma simply can't last.

Here's what the GHCS Playoff Formula predicts for the playoffs this year:


St. Louis Cardinals over San Diego Padres -- Even though they picked up Ronnie Belliard from the Indians at midseason, the Cardinals have just two former Tribesmen. Jose Vizcaino (179 ABs in 1996) is the other. Belliard wasn't quite able to wash the stink of 390 games played for the Indians since 2004, hitting just .237 in 194 ABs for St. Louis.

But Belliard and Vizcaino are trumped by the six Padres who once sported the Chief Wahoo logo: Brian Giles (1995-1998), Rudy Seanez (1989-1991), Josh Bard (2002-2005), Russell Branyan (1998-2002), Alan Embree (1992, 1995-1996), and Dave Roberts (1999-2001). That's 857 games worth of Tribe experience, and that just can't be overcome. The Padres will drown in a sea of Cleveland ineptitude.

Los Angeles Dodgers over New York Mets -- The Dodgers have a huge decision to make. Do they make Einar Diaz (1996-2002) active for the playoffs? If they do, that makes three ex-Indians on the squad, along with Kenny Lofton (1992-1996, 1998-2001) and Jeff Kent (1996). And the Mets would have just two, Guillermo Mota (2006) and Julio Franco (1983-1988!, 1996-1997).

Since Einar only got three ABs for the Dodgers, all in September, odds are he won't make the postseason roster. That's why we're picking L.A. to upend the Mets. If the Dodgers are at all tempted to go with Einar -- say, maybe Russell Martin or Toby Hall were vaporized by invading aliens just before the first game of their series -- they need to realize just how much the decision could cost them. They already made a wise decision months ago by trading Sandy Alomar to the White Sox. Keeping only Lofton and Kent will make them favorites over the Mets, since Mota helped destroy the Tribe bullpen just this year and since Lofton was a pretty darn good Indian.


Detroit Tigers over New York Yankees -- The toughest call of all. Each team has only one ex-Indian, Sean Casey (1997) for the Tigers and Jaret Wright (1997-2002) for the Yankees. Since Wright had a much longer tenure and may very well have the Yankees' playoff fate in his hands by starting the fourth game of this series, that's bad news for New York fans. Casey's 10 at-bats with the Tribe at the beginning of his career don't bring the taint with it that could cost a team a playoff series.

Minnesota Twins over Oakland Athletics -- Not only do the A's have Scott Sauerbeck (2005-2006), who played in Cleveland this year before hiding in some bushes in the suburbs, they have former Indians hothead Milton Bradley (2001-2003). Two infamous ex-Tribesmen easily trump Twins reliever Matt Guerrier, who was only born in Cleveland and never played here. Billy Beane's shit don't work in the playoffs when he's using ex-Indians!


Los Angeles Dodgers over St. Louis Cardinals -- They're tied 2-2 in ex-Indians. But the GHCS Playoff Formula tiebreaker says Dodgers win, since Ronnie Belliard was trying to fasten a few buttons over his belly in Cleveland earlier this year.


Detroit Tigers over Minnesota Twins -- It's about as Tribe-free a series as you can get, since the Twins have no ex-Indians and Sean Casey had just 10 ABs with the Tribe. But unless the Twins drop Cleveland native Matt Guerrier before the ALCS, they're done. Born in Cleveland trumps playing for five minutes in Cleveland.


Detroit Tigers over Los Angeles Dodgers -- The Tigers have constructed a darn good roster. Only one player with any Indians experience, and it was just six games nearly a decade ago! That's good enough to please God and good enough to beat the Dodgers. Give Jim Leyland another ring, and give the title to a team that hasn't had a winning season since the last time the Tribe sucked!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Tribe finished despite strong finish

In an alternate universe, it's still 2005, and the Indians' 7-1 record against the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Devil Rays over the last week of the season put them into the playoffs. It completed a magical run that saw the team roll through the last two months of the season that saw the Tribe go from a .500 team at midseason to one of the league's best, all while clinching their first division title in five years. In that alternative universe, the Indians will be playing the Oakland A's Tuesday at Jacobs Field in the first game of the ALDS; your pitching matchup: C.C. Sabathia vs. Barry Zito.

But in this universe -- you know, the REAL one -- the Indians' 7-1 record against the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Devil Rays over the last week of the season put them mercifully to bed. The season that really ended in May officially ended with a sweep of the Devil Rays and a 78-84 record. That left them closer to the last-place Kansas City Royals (62-100) than it did to the first-place Minnesota Twins (96-66).

And in this universe -- you know, the REAL one -- when the Indians faced the White Sox and the Devil Rays for six games over the final week of the season in 2005, needing really to win just half of them, the Tribe could muster only one win. One. But sometimes you'd think the Tribe brass lives in that alternate universe.

The Indian Summer Mirage last year, when they went 42-15 from July 23 to Sept. 24, convinced Tribe management -- and many of the fans -- that the rebuilding had worked. But what's the reality? The 42-15 record for two months last year, or the 351-452 record for the remainder of the last five seasons?

Which is kind of weird to hear from an organization that values a player's track record. After all, that's why they signed Aaron Boone. And took Guillermo Mota in the Coco Crisp trade. And signed "innings-eater" Jason Johnson. And let him keep pitching. Contention by 2005? Yep. But no one promised us anything after that, did they???

Next season we'll be entering the fifth year of GM Mark Shapiro's lightning-fast rebuilding program. They've posted 74, 68, 80, 93, and now 78 wins during that time. They're a combined 24 games under .500, which only looks that good because of the 93-win season last year. Four losing terms in five tries don't breed much confidence. Not in a division which has become the best in baseball faster than

Once again, we're left waiting for last year, just as we have been every year for the past four decades.