Tuesday, February 20, 2007

You're telling me there's a chance?

Hey, guess what -- LeCharles Bentley's career might be over.

Maybe. Probably. There's a very good chance. All signs point to yes.

That's about as close as Browns GM Phil Savage is willing to get to a future without LeCharles Bentley, even though that future's been here since, oh, about the first day of training camp. Every time Phil Savage says something about LeCharles' future, he's sounding more and more like Jim Carrey As Lloyd Christmas in "Dumb and Dumber".

Phil/Lloyd: "Hit me with it! I've come a long way to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances."
LeCharles/Mary: "Not good."
Phil/Lloyd: "You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?"
LeCharles/Mary: "I'd say more like one out of a million."
Phil/Lloyd: "So you're telling me there's a chance."

Actually, Phil, that's what you're telling yourself. In a Tuesday press conference, the Browns GM announced that LeCharles would "more likely" need another surgery on his torn patellar tendon and "if he does elect to have the surgery" then he won't be playing next season.

Sounds like Savage has just about moved into the fifth stage of grief, acceptance. Would it be any surprise if a 6-foot-2, 310-pound guy whose leg came unhinged at the knee never played another down of football?

At least this time they won't be losing him on the first day of training camp. Maybe the Browns can just accept their loss and finally move on.

RELATED: Are you sure you want to be That Guy?; Down goes Bentley!

Monday, February 19, 2007

WTAM's Mark Schwab

He scooped all of Cleveland on Keith Foulke's retirement, once beat St. Joseph High School graduate and former Cleveland Brown Bob Golic in an eating contest, and named his cat Boomer.

Now WTAM Indians beat reporter Mark Schwab has achieved his career pinnacle -- a Q&A with God Hates Cleveland Sports. And this isn't just any Q&A, this is the first of what will become an ongoing series of interviews with Cleveland media personalities. Schwaby earned the leadoff spot with his Keith Foulke scoop and his ability to pop up anywhere at anytime on WTAM, much like the gopher in Caddyshack.

Here's the results of our email Q&A with WTAM Tribe beat reporter Mark Schwab:

GOD HATES CLEVELAND SPORTS: You kicked everyone's butt on the Foulke story. Let's put aside how you got the story -- how did you manage to get the story and report it WITHOUT any other Cleveland media member running with it. You were on WTAM at about 15 minutes after midnight teasing the story. There was still plenty of time for any newspaper in town to get something in, especially since all were waiting for the end of the Cavs game before running their final editions. Yet NO ONE had it in the Friday morning paper. How'd you keep it away from everyone else?

MARK SCHWAB: Well I got it on the air after midnight, by then the print guys would’ve had to have heard the story (or received a call telling them about it), get a source to pick up the phone after midnight, actually get the source to confirm the story, something that wasn’t easy with that story at that time.

GHCS: A perfect storm of events kept both this story and the Cavs/Lakers result-- the ONLY two sports stories in Cleveland from Thursday, BTW -- out of most everyone's morning papers. That turned both stories into Internet stories. And yet despite one of LeBron's best games of the season against a glamour team and foe (Kobe), the Foulke discussion DOMINATED the sports scene like the Steelers dominate the Browns. Why is that?

MS: Because it was a one-time event. The Cavs play 82 times. Only "once a never" can you have your closer retire on the first day of spring training.

GHCS: Does God hate Cleveland sports?

MS: Absolutely not. First off, hate is a sin. God is incapable of sinning because of His perfect righteousness. Scripture tells us God “hates” some things, but the term is there more to illustrate in a human way, that those things are bad. Proverbs 6: 16-19 tells us God “hates” haughty eyes (self righteous arrogance), lying, murder, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil (using ZERO self restraint with sin), a false witness who lies and one who spreads strife. CLEVELAND is mentioned no where in the Bible. Even if Cleveland was guilty of these things, He STILL would not hate the city. Rom 8:38-39 confirms that. And all sins are forgiven at moment of confession to God the Father anyway (1 John 1:9). So no. God does not hate Cleveland.

GHCS: LeCharles Bentley, signed as a free agent by the Browns to plug the biggest hole on the team, goes down on the first day of training camp, never plays a down for the team. Keith Foulke, signed as a free agent by the Indians to plug the biggest hole on the team, retires on the first day of spring training, never throws a pitch for the team. Coincidence?

MS: Yes. Coincidence. An odd one, but still coincidence.

GHCS: What makes for a better sports talk show -- when our teams are really good, when our teams are really bad, or when they are just OK?

MS: Depends on the host. I like it more when they’re good, it’s just more fun. The bitter people that love to be negative like it the other way.

GHCS: Plain Dealer columnist Bill Livingston was on Les Levine's talk show last Monday night and wasn't too pleased with the prospect of heading to Winter Haven for the beginning of spring training. He said something along the lines of nothing ever happens the first couple weeks. What kind of Chad Johnson-like TD dance did you do for him when you landed your scoop?

MS: Normally I don't like TD dances, but Chad’s (and some of Steve Smith’s) I don’t mind because they’re funny. A lot of his come to mind, but I think the Tiger Woods putt was the best. Hilarious.

GHCS: You've got one day with absolutely nothing to do. No obligations whatsoever. Which do you do -- a Star Wars marathon or a Lord of the Rings marathon?

MS: Wow. Ok, have I mentioned this on the air? How’d you know! This has actually been discussed with my friends, and we’ve unsuccessfully tried to plan a day just like this. First off, any LOTR viewing MUST be the extended editions to even count. Now, you’ve got to look at time. There are six Star Wars movies and only three LOTR movies but the Star Wars movies are much shorter, especially since you’re watching said extended versions of LOTR. My final decision would come down to two things probably. First, which of the films have I not seen lately, and second, what video games am I playing. If it’s one of the two Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic games for Xbox, Star Wars could win out. If it’s a more traditional role-playing game, then I might side with the hobbits. Still a tough call.

GHCS: Ever take advantage of the Sunday Score Special that oil-change place offers during Indians games?

MS: Absolutely not. I drive a Volkswagen Turbo S New Beetle. Only Volkswagon dealers can touch a Volkswagen! And if you want to laugh at me for driving a Beetle, watch me blow your ass away off the line with 6 speeds of pure Turbonium. Who’s laughing now!

GHCS: WKNR vs. WTAM in a media Olympics -- softball, bowling, cornhole, and wing-eating. Who wins what?

MS: Softball -- WTAM. I was ready to give this to the guys down the dial because of youth. Other than (Greg) Brinda, they’ve got a LOT of younger guys. But then I remembered our weekenders, Mark Tromba, Ryan Pritt, and Stacy Jantz. Tromba is somewhat athletic, Pritt is young, and Stace could hold her own and definitely has some quicks in her. Add that to a core of me, Andre Knott and Kevin Keane, and I think we could pull it off. Keane would be the best player on the field and crush them. Dude can seriously play.

Bowling -- WKNR. I’ve gotta give them something, don’t I? Besides, can you see Alison wielding a bowling ball? And (Neil) Bender just looks like somebody that knows what he’s doing in a 7-10 split.

Cornhole -- How should I know? I’ve got some southern Ohio roots, so I can play a little bit. I’ll give this to us for that. WTAM wins.

Wing eating -- Probably the true prize of the Radio Olympics. Let’s face it, we can all eat. Now, I say this with no disrespect to guys like Bender, (Mike) Catan, (Kenny) Roda, (Gene) Winters, guys like that. I’m sure they can “get their eat on” better than most others in the media, but not us. Forget the fact that I’ve eaten a Big Mac in 27 seconds. Ignore that Keane piledrives 2 quadruple cheeseburgers just for a snack. Forget about Pritt being a college boy that can chow hound. I give you three names to trump all: Triv (Mike Trivisonno). Marty (Allen). (Paul) Rado. Good evening, good night, good bye. Triv and Marty alone would be a serious force, but oh my, Rado could eat a family of five and he’d still be looking for the grandparents. This man is dangerous with a stomach. He is Unicron from the Transformers movie. There are days I can only tip my hat. I can’t believe the man is alive, let alone functioning and incinerating food at the rate he does. Just ask Mr. Chicken. He spends every Tuesday begging for mercy on the wrong end of Rado’s spork. You challenge Paul in an eating contest, you’re not only going to lose, you going to be embarrassed. WTAM wins this event in a landslide.

GHCS: Name five things you can do in Winter Haven that you can't do in Cleveland.

  1. Be eaten by an alligator.
  2. Eat the worst boneless wings in the United States of America.
  3. Watch Jason Davis get people out (great in spring training, still waiting on the rest of the year!).
  4. See Carmen Policy talk on a payphone.
  5. See sights like a ridiculous orange dome, a boring water-ski show that they think should impress you, and hundreds of people that still think it’s 1981.

GHCS: Why the hell would ANYONE choose to be a Cleveland sports fan?

MS: Nobody really CHOOSES to be a fan of their home teams, they just are. You didn’t choose to be born, or to be a guy, you just were, just are. It’s what you do, there’s no volition attached to being a true fan. You are because you are. Those that choose other teams have no marbles and are cowards. Worthless to the cause.

GHCS: Rocky River's boys basketball team is 12-4. Its girls team is 12-3. The Pirates were 9-2 in football this past season. What's going on over there??

MS: You’ve got it backwards. THIS is the standard. The garbage years we just left were the aberration. We were a force in both sports when I was in high school. Our football team went 9-1 my soph year and we went to regionals in basketball. Especially in hoops, we were good. Football we were always at least average. Except our girls basketball teams, they always sucked. Glad they finally figured that out. I love high school sports, I think it’s awesome that the River Rats are back. I’m off to Danny Boy’s or Herbs to celebrate. Best pizza (DB) and burgers (Herbs) in NE Ohio. I'd put 'em up against anybody, anywhere for that matter.

Thanks to Mark Schwab for putting up with the GHCS Q&A!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

World's finest
-- just ask him

If only everyone in the Cleveland sports scene had Damon Jones attitude.

The self-proclaimed greatest shooter in the world -- and as he freely admitted, it remains self-proclaimed -- didn't even advance past the first round of the NBA's 3-point Shootout last night. Just a bad night, said the self-proclaimed greatest shooter in the world, who is 35th in the league in 3-point percentage. Even Michael Jordan, who has six championship rings, has a bad game, said the guy with no rings. Just wait til next year when he has another chance, said the guy who has played 11 minutes in the Cavs last three games.

Just wait til next year? Wait, maybe everyone in the Cleveland sports scene does share Damon Jones' attitude. After all, we've been waiting for next year for the last 40 years or so.

If Damon Jones can proclaim himself the world's greatest shooter despite having never played for the same team in back-to-back years until he signed with the Cavs, maybe we have all kinds of greatests in Cleveland already. They just need Damon Jones' attitude to let the world know it.

Just think ...

Kellen Winslow Jr. is the world's greatest tight end. Just ask him, he'll tell you. He apparently did go to the Damon Jones Attitude Makeover School.

Keith Foulke is the world's greatest closer, despite no saves last year and his spring-training retirement this year.

Mark Shapiro is the world's greatest general manager, despite the fact that the Indians have just one winning season during his five-year tenure.

C.C. Sabathia is the world's greatest pitcher, as long as you qualify it to mean left-handed pitchers under 26 years old who have never pitched for more than one team.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas is the world's greatest center, among those who are from Lithuania.

Charlie Frye is the world's greatest quarterback from northern Ohio. Who hasn't crashed his motorcycle.

If only Damon Jones could get to each of these guys and let them know exactly how good each of them is. Then maybe we'd finally have players the caliber of Damon Jones, players who will do nothing but bring us non-stop championships.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mark his words

Thanks to Cleveland.com, Mark Shapiro's press conference addressing Keith Foulke's retirement is now online.

Listen to Part 1 and Part 2.

If it ain't Foulke ...

Maybe when the Indians talked to reliever Keith Foulke about coming to Cleveland, they were actually talking to his bobblehead.

Mark Shapiro: "Keith, I know you had elbow problems last year. Is your elbow OK now?"
Keith Foulke bobblehead: Nods head yes.

MS: "Awesome. That's what I needed to hear. Now, you had surgery on your knee. Did they fix your knee?"
KFB: Nods head yes.

MS: "This is getting better and better. You've been a closer in the past, Keith. Can you still handle that ninth-inning pressure?"
KFB: Nods head yes.

MS: "I knew you would say yes! You've got that killer mentality, and look at that World Series trophy that comes along with it. How's that feel, that feel good?"
KFB: Nods head yes.

MS: "Great. OK, here's what we can do. I've got 5 million bucks here. You can have it if you pitch for us. Want it?"
KFB: Nods head yes.

MS: "Sign right here, Keith! You're now an Indian. Welcome aboard! Can I touch that World Series trophy?"
KFB: Stops nodding.

Foulke greater than LeBron?

It's Friday morning in Cleveland and most likely the two biggest sports stories of the day aren't in your local newspaper.

And who knew the biggest of the two wouldn't be LeBron James finally making a bunch of foul shots, outscoring Kobe Bryant, and leading the Cavs to a 114-108 win on the road over the Los Angeles Lakers?

Nope, thanks to our bruised psyche and a similar scenario from the first day of Browns training camp last year (LeCharles Bentley, anyone?), Keith Foulke's sudden retirement has pushed LeBron James out of the water-cooler discussions this morning. Cleveland.com's Tribe Tracker blog already has two posts devoted to Foulke's retirement and is filled with comments from disgusted Indians fans. The Cleveland.com Cavs message board has almost no posts about last night's game against the Lakers, while the Indians message board is busier than a Cleveland red-light camera.

Man, if Foulke actually saved a few games for the Tribe maybe they would have torn down that giant LeBron James sign downtown and put up one of Keith Foulke.

Word leaked out on that one thanks to WTAM's Mark Schwab as the Cavs-Lakers game marched toward the second half. Apparently he was the only one in town who knew.

Just think what would be happening if Keith Foulke had actually ever thrown a pitch for the Indians. Or even put on an Indians jersey. Or even made it to Winter Haven. Or even wanted to be an Indian. Remember how he kept trying to catch on with either the Arizona Diamondbacks or Texas Rangers because they were closer to home?

But it's another blow to this town's sports psyche all the same. The bullpen was the Indians' biggest disaster last season and the top priority in the offseason. GM Mark Shapiro wasn't content with just patching the wall. He filled the hole with concrete, paved over it, put up a brick fence, then wrapped a padlocked chain around the entire thing.

And there's already cracks appearing.

The woe-is-me attitude is alive and well in Cleveland and going nowhere fast. Keith Foulke's become the prominent story on Cleveland.com, on the message boards, and in the blogosphere, all before we can even enjoy LeBron and the James Gang's exciting victory in L.A. All for a guy who has never even worn a Tribe uniform, much less thrown a pitch in one. But he was painted as the answer to all our problems, and once again the coach turns into a pumpkin in Cleveland.

When Keith Foulke retiring is a bigger story than LeBron James pumping in 38 points against the Lakers in an exciting road victory, you know your town's sports fans need more than a few sessions on the psychiatrist's couch.


Last night it was just a whisper from WTAM Indians beat reporter Mark Schwab. This morning it's a full-fledged roar: Cleveland Indians purported closer Keith Foulke has retired.

Cleveland.com's Indians message board is blowing up. Someone on the ESPN.com Indians message board wants to know why we are cursed. (Hellooooo???) Cleveland.com finds itself playing catch-up on the story after Schwab beat it. ESPN.com has finally made it one of its headlines. Bloggers (Vinny and the Hornless Rhino, Papa Cass, Swerb's Blurbs) are chiming in.

Here's some of the best comments heard in cyberspace today:

"Classy move by the front office letting Foulke come back to retire as an Indian" -- mikejunkin55 on the Cleveland.com Indians forum

"Seriously, this Foulke thing really gets under my skin. Why is it this stuff only happens in Cleveland? Why?? ... It sucks to be a Cleveland sports fan!" -- Regal on the ESPN.com Indians forum

"It's not LeCharles Bentley's torn patella tendon, but it's still not the best news to start Spring Training, is it?" -- The Hornless Rhino

"Well that was quick." -- Rich Swerbinsky, Swerbs Blurbs

"One still has to wonder about the initial psychological blow of losing a former World Series-winning closer on the second day of spring training. Very LeCharles Bentley of him." -- Eric Cassano, aka Papa Cass

Leave it to the Cleveland sports scene to knock LeBron James out of the headlines before anyone can even read about his 38-point effort and 18-of-22 free-throw shooting while outdueling Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, 114-108 last night. After all the hand-wringing over the Cavs since the calendar turned to 2007, they go into the All-Star break at 31-22, just a half-game worse than last year's record. But who cares, Keith Foulke has retired!!!

What the Foulke??

Apparently Indians "closer" woke up this morning, looked at the uniform they wanted him to wear as pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, and saw a very bad word: Cleveland.

So he retired.

Sometime this morning on WTAM's Wills and Webster morning show, Mark Schwab will go in depth on why the hopeful to Bob Wickman's throne has thrown in the towel. Like there is an in-depth story. It's a simple as this -- Keith Foulke didn't want to pitch for a team that God hates.

And here come the inevitable headlines: Indians bullpen Foulked, Tribe Foulked, Stick a Foulke in Them, What the Foulke is in the Water Up There???

Just two days ago Plain Dealer Indians beat reporter Paul Hoynes presented the best-case scenario for the Tribe's closer job. That was that Foulke and Borowski trade off injuries, one always healthy to pick up a few saves, each getting close to 20 saves before it's all over.


Somewhere Bob Wickman is laughing so hard his belly is shaking like a jar full of jelly.

Foulke wasn't even in town when LeCharles Bentley went down with a probable career-ending knee injury on the first day of Browns training camp last year. But he already knows better. No way he's going to be struck down before practice even starts! No, siree, Keith Foulke will take matters into his own hands.

Now we know why the Indians signed all those relievers in the offseason. They wanted to make sure they still had one by the time the season started. Foulke's already gone, Borowski didn't pass a physical with the Philadelphia Phillies which allowed the Indians to jump on him, Roberto Hernandez was born a month and a half before the Browns secured Cleveland's last championship, Aaron Fultz has a career 4.37 ERA, and newly signed Cliff Pollitte missed most of last year due to injury.

This makes two times in three seasons a scrapheap addition was penciled into a prime position in the Tribe's lineup, then produced absolutely nothing. Remember Juan Gonzalez two years ago? The Indians signed him, put him in right field and the middle of the lineup, then watched him hurt his hamstrings the next-to-last day of spring training. Grady Sizemore had already been sent to AAA. Thankfully the Tribe was able to put Grady into that empty outfield spot as Juan Gone gave us just one at-bat in which he couldn't even run all the way to first base in 2005. Is there a Grady to take Keith Foulke's spot? Should the Indians even be wasting their time on guys like this? After all, they had to practically beg Foulke for a date to the prom this offseason anyway.

Even Keith Hernandez thinks Juan Gonzalez and Keith Foulke should give their money back.

Whatever the case, it's just another typical morning in Cleveland. Wake up and the sky is falling. And the season hasn't even started yet.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

foiled again

Maybe Carlos Boozer thinks that by the time he finally does play against the Cavs, we will have all forgetten about his Benedict Arnold turn in signing with the Utah Jazz. After all, it's been 2½ seasons in Salt Lake City for the ex-Cavs forward, which is more time than he spent in Cleveland. Of course, thanks to injuries, he still has played less games with Utah (129) than with the Cavs (156).

Another of those injuries has sidelined Boozer for tonight's visit from the Cavaliers. It's the fifth time the Cavs have played Utah since Boozer, and the fifth time Boozer has missed the game with an injury. This time around it's a fractured leg bone keeping Boozer out of the game. He suffered the injury Jan. 27, and at the time speculation had Boozer out four-to-six weeks.

That ensured he was out for tonight's game. But guess where the Jazz will be exactly 4½ weeks from tonight, which will be seven weeks after Boozer suffered his injury?

That's right -- Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday, March 17. Also known as St. Patrick's Day.

You have to wonder if Boozer will be ready to be booed in that game. It will be the Jazz's fourth road game in five nights. If Boozer is just coming back from his injury, will Utah want to put him on the court that many times in five days, especially when the last game of the set will be in hostile territory? Oh, you can bet there will be boos -- Cleveland fans have memories like elephants. You think it's hard to get a pit bull to let something go once it's chomped down on it? Try ripping revenge out of a Cleveland fans' mouth. Fuhgetaboutit.

Just think about the atmosphere surrounding that game. St. Patrick's Day is a revered holiday in Cleveland -- Drunk Day, some call it -- and Saturday, March 17 will be the Cavs only game in a five-day span. How many drunken louts will be at The Q that night, screaming Boozer's name, whether he plays or not? And if Boozer does play, and maybe takes a tumble in the first half, how loud do you think the Q will get?

So don't worry about not getting to boo Boozer tonight. Save it up for next month. You'll finally get your chance on St. Patrick's Day.

Let's not get this Marty started

Take your MartyBall and go home. That's what the Chargers told former head coach Marty Schottenheimer a couple days ago. It's what the Cleveland Browns should tell their once and hopefully not future head coach as well.

Cleveland sports fans do nothing quite so well as live in the past. We cried for years over the trade of Rocky Colavito, until The Rock came back (and led us nowhere). Twenty years after he retired, people still thought Jim Brown could suit up and be as good as he ever was. There were people who didn't get mad at Art Modell for moving the Browns after the 1994 season because they were STILL mad at him for firing Paul Brown 30 years prior. We're constantly asking the Indians' front office to bring back Manny Ramirez or bring back Jim Thome every time either of them comes available, even though it will cost more than a Manhattan penthouse. And if only the Browns would add Bernie Kosar to the front office, things would be so much different.

Now Marty Schottenheimer is free again. And the idea of him returning to the Browns, either immediately or by 2008, is floating around. He's got to be better than Romeo Crennel, they say. He's fifth all-time in wins, they say. One of his San Diego assistants is already here, they say. He's familiar with the 3-4 defense the Browns use, they say.


First of all, Marty is no spring chicken. He'll turn 64 in September. He's a year away and a half away from drawing Social Security checks in an era where NFL coaches are getting younger and younger. Second, his teams always find devastating ways to lose. Four times Marty's teams have posted the AFC's best record and lost a home playoff game: 1986 Browns, 1995 Chiefs, 1997 Chiefs, and the Chargers this past season. Third, Marty has coached in 327 games and never advanced to the Super Bowl. He's 5-13 in playoff games and hasn't won one since 1993.

But he's better than Romeo Crennel, they say!

Instead of embracing the past, it's time for a Cleveland team to embrace the future. You don't want Romeo around anymore? Fine. But look to someone new. The New Orleans Saints did it with Sean Payton, a 44-year-old who worked his way up through the coaching ranks before leading his team to the NFC Championship in his rookie year. The San Francisco 49ers look to be on the right track with Mike Nolan, a 48-year-old whose father was a 49ers coach and who worked his way up through the coaching ranks. The New York Jets did it with Eric Mangini, a 36-year-old who blossomed on the Bill Belichick coaching tree and led his team to the playoffs in his rookie season.

But in Cleveland, we immediately look to something that felt good years ago, something that wasn't even all that good to begin with. It's like looking back on a high-school relationship because nothing's going right in your life right now. Get back together and you're just inviting disaster. It's not going to be how it was, and while you're figuring that out you're messing up the present.

Time to stop living in the past, Cleveland fans. There's not much to root for in the present, but until you let go of the past you won't make it to the future anyway.