Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Year in Review
Part 2

Not much went right in the Cleveland sports world in 2006. Even the Cavs, who gave us our most excitement by winning a playoff series, started the year with a 14-15 record in January and February. Really, we enjoyed two-and-a-half good months in 2006 -- March, April, and part of May -- before everything spun out of control like Ricky Bobby in a NASCAR race.

Not only could our teams not do anything right, our players couldn't say anything right. Kellen Winslow Jr., our poster child for foot-in-mouth disease, contributed more than his share of outlandish quotes in 2006. But Braylon Edwards threatened to pass his teammate with what seemed like weekly proclamations.

The old standbys weren't the only ones to make our jaws drop by making their jaws drop, though. Mark Shapiro, Paul Dolan, Ramon Vazquez and plenty of others had something to say, and we soon had something to laugh at.

So here are the Top Cleveland Sports Quotes of 2006:

"We have an emotionally traumatized fan base. It's nothing that happened recently. It was when they went 40 years before winning. So now, they think:
'Oh, goodness! We're not going to win again for 40 years.'"
-- Mark Shapiro, quoted in a Bill Livingston column in The Plain Dealer in February

That's Cleveland sports, summed up in three sentences. Sad thing is, Mark Shapiro's probably right.

"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." -- LeCharles Bentley upon signing with the Browns

Like every Cleveland sports dream, LeCharles Bentley's turned into a nightmare. When the turf jumped up to bite his knee on the first day of training camp it most likely ended his playing career. No one associated with the team will say anything, but rumors are that a staph infection has settled in and LeCharles won't be back for 2007. No other event symbolized this city's sports lucks more than this.

“I predict Jim Thome is going to have a Jim Thome year (in 2006). He’s in top-notch shape and is still as good a hitter as he ever was.” -- Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manual.

“I’m disappointed to see him in our division. The White Sox gave up a lot. They took a risk, but it’s a trade that could have a very high ceiling.” -- Shapiro

Jim Thome's final stats for the Chicago White Sox: .288 average, 42 HRs, 109 RBI, 108 runs scored. He only hit .214 against the Indians, but knocked in 14 runs.

"What was inexcusable tonight was for me to give up. I'd like to apologize to my teammates, the fans, my family and whoever else was in the stands. That's the first time in my career that's happened to me. I just lost focus." -- Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia after giving up eight runs in the third inning of a June game against the Chicago Cubs.

Don't worry, C.C., we gave up on the team long before you did.

''I hate to be brash, but I think my 90 percent is still better than every tight end out there.'' -- Kellen Winslow Jr.

Winslow did finish ninth in the NFL in receptions, but he didn't make the Pro Bowl. And he does not hate to be brash.

"I guess I'm shocked by it. I'm not sure I understand the economics of such a deal. It demonstrates that we have more work to do on the economic disparity within the game." -- Indians president Paul Dolan's reaction to the Boston Red Sox's payment of $51.1 million for the rights to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Of course Paul Dolan was shocked -- it involved a bundle of money!

"I don't feel like I embarrassed my teammates. I embarrassed myself to some extent. That's not my character. That's not me. Nobody knows me as that type of guy. I've always been the clean cut, quiet, well-spoken guy, so that wasn't me. I embarrassed myself a little bit and I feel I embarrassed this organization to some extent. I wish I could do it back, but I can't."

"All I did was show I cared about the game. All I did was show my passion for the game. It's not like I fought anybody. It's not like I gave the bird to somebody in the stands or anything like that. I was just showing passion about the game." -- Braylon Edwards, after getting into Browns QB Charlie Frye's face on the sidelines during a game

"We're coming after (the Steelers') ass," -- Braylon Edwards after the Browns beat the Atlanta Falcons

SILENCE -- Braylon Edwards by the end of the season

"If we're ahead by 30, then I would like to see some of (Derek Anderson)," -- Browns head coach Derek Anderson, before he actually had to use Derek Anderson

Hey, Romeo, all the rest of us would like to see the Browns ahead by 30. First you have to SCORE 30, though.

Jason Johnson is a "durable innings eater." -- Shapiro upon signing the journeyman pitcher.

All that eating gave us indigestion. Johnson went 3-8 with the Tribe before getting his release waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too late in the season. For some reason, after watching him post a 5.96 ERA with the Tribe, the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds thought Johnson could still pitch. Both tried him out. Johnson went 0-4 for Boston and didn't post a decision for the Reds. He finished with a 6.10 ERA.


And the most ridiculous quote uttered by anyone wearing a Cleveland uniform this past year:

"I never got a fair shot here. Not this year or last year." -- Indians utility infielder Ramon Vazquez, upon being sent to Buffalo after hitting .209 in 67 at-bats and costing the Tribe Brandon Phillips

At least Vazquez got it right moments later when he said, "This has been a horrible year." Yes, Ramon, it sure has!

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