Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Talking Magic Number

The Magic Number used to be a regular visitor to Jacobs Field back in the mid-1990s. We were regular countdown pros back then, as good as Dick Clark on New Year's Eve. But we haven't seen much of Magic Number lately. In 2001 the Indians won their division and enjoyed a visit from Magic Number, but since then it's been nothing but tragic numbers. Magic Number did make a cameo in 2005 but didn't make it to Jacobs Field for the final week of the season.

Now, the Magic Number is back for an extended stay. Entering tonight's game the Indians hold a 5½-game lead on the Tigers and have a Magic Number of seven. Wins tonight and tomorrow reduce that to three, with the possibility of clinching the division title by the weekend.

God Hates Cleveland Sports was fortunate enough to hook up with Magic Number to see how he enjoys life on the road and what he thinks about his return to Cleveland.

GOD HATES CLEVELAND SPORTS: Magic Number, good to see you back in town. Looks like you'll be here til the end of the week. We have to ask, where the hell have you been?
MAGIC NUMBER: Well, I do quite a bit of traveling. As you know I'm based in New York City -- season tickets at Yankee Stadium and quite a bit of time spent at Shea as well. But last couple years I've spent time in St. Louis, Boston, out on the West Coast in L.A., San Diego, and Oakland. Used to go to Atlanta all the time, but not so much anymore. Nice to be back in Cleveland, I plan on visiting The Flats this week.

GHCS: You might want to try East 4th Street, Magic Number, The Flats are over! It has been awhile since we've seen you, hasn't it?
MN: What happened to The Flats? I used to love that place The Basement. I used to hang out there with the Baseball Tonight guys all the time. Remember when Gary Miller peed out the window? Wouldn't have happened if I hadn't come to town.

GHCS: Will you be at the ballpark tonight, Magic Number?
MN: I almost didn't make it last night. I forgot how to get to The Jake. By the time I got there the ticket booths were closed. Even the scalpers were gone. I finally found an old lady who claimed she was one of Bob Feller's groupies back in the day. She was selling a ticket for bus fare back to Parma, so I got in just in time. That'll teach me to come down Euclid Avenue. Who knows what will happen tonight.

GHCS: How do people usually react when they see you?
MN: Man, it's crazy? Ever been over to that Rock Hall of yours? You know, they got The Beatles in there. It's kinda like that with me, when The Beatles first came to America. There's usually girls fainting and peeing themselves (around here they're all wearing these pink Mrs. Sizemore shirts), and guys like to come up and give you a chest bump or fist knock. Sometimes they ask for pictures. I'm always keeping myself in shape to look good for the cameras.

GHCS: Wow, you're a real rock star. Any great Cleveland memories?
MN: I really liked 1995. I mean, there I was counting myself down throughout most of August. By September 8 it was all over. Most people barely even knew I was in town. Albert Belle kept threatening to stomp me, but I could have taken him. This year is much more relaxed. If I get that pie in my face I'm gonna be really pissed off.

GHCS: I think a lot of people are still pretty upset with you for standing us up in 2005.
MN: Hey, I was here, all right. I even went to Kansas City before I came here for the final week. But when I was out there I got sun poisoning, and then when we got back to Cleveland they were like, "We'll call you when we need you." I figured I'd be down at Jacobs Field all week, but I only made it once. When Ozzie Guillen made that choke sign, I hopped on a plane and flew back home to New York.

GHCS: What do you do in the offseason?
MN: I'm always counting down the days til the next season. I'll watch a little football, but not that much. Sometimes I'll pop up during the basketball season, but since almost everyone's in the playoffs they don't need my services that much. So usually I'm just hanging out by the pool reading a book.

GHCS: Any predictions for the Tribe this week?
MN: Let me ask my brother, Magic 8-Ball. Uh, oh, you're not going to like this answer ... you did say this site's called God Hates Cleveland Sports, right? Looks like I might be needed in Detroit next week.

GHCS: How can you say that? I heard you have reservations at the Renaissance through the weekend.
MN: Plans change, kid. I've got the airlines on speed dial, know what I mean? Just think about what's going on in Chicago and Milwaukee. Thank goodness I can drive back and forth between those places.

GHCS: OK, Magic Number, good to have you in town. Thanks for stopping by!
MN: My pleasure, see you at the game tonite -- MAYBE!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Live blogging the big series

In 1997 the Tribe began wearing their socks high in honor of Jim Thome's 27th birthday. It became a good-luck thing as the Indians grinded their way to the World Series despite a less-than-stellar record. In 1998 it was The Year of the Dye Job as Jaret Wright, Charles Nagy, Richie Sexson, and a few others went blonde to get the Indians rolling. It inspiried a trend in Cleveland and inspired the metrosexual in then-GM John Hart, who said Nagy didn't need to dye his hair because, "He's a good-looking guy. He looks like he just stepped off the cover of GQ."

Now it's The Year of the Pie Face, as Blake gets blasted by Victor Martinez after tonight's game in one has become an Indians tradition. Trot Nixon probably preserved his spot on the roster by bringing his pie-in-the-face act from Boston, and now if you're the hero of the game, you're getting a pie in the face.

Your 2007 Indians are now a team with an identity. And it won't be much longer before they're also a team with a playoff spot.

(10:44 p.m.) OWNER'S SON!!! OWNER'S SON!!! OWNER'S SON!!! OWNER'S SON!!! Casey Blake sheds the moniker as he goes deep to left and the Tribe has put an extra game of distance between themselves and the Tigers with a 6-5, 11-inning win.

(10:42 p.m.) More on Tribe relievers Bobby Howry holds the record for most games with 79. But he only pitched 73 innings that year (2005) with a 2.47 ERA. Betancourt is up to 62 games and 73 innings pitched. Sid Monge threw in 76 games in 1979 to set the record for most games for a left-handed reliever, and he went 131 innings with a 2.40 ERA and 12-10 record and 19 saves. That might very well be the best relief season by a Tribe pitcher (the 12 wins in relief is also a record), but Betancourt's not far behind. Of course we've got Jose Mesa's 1995 season on the short list, as he saved 46 games and compiled a 1.13 ERA in 64 IP.

(10:34 p.m.) Is Rafael Betancourt turning in the best season by a reliever in Indians history? His ERA before tonight was 1.52, and here's two more scoreless innings in a very clutch situation. He's up to 73 innings pitched now. He's only walked eight guys. He doesn't get the saves, but the Indians wouldn't be where they are right now without him. On to the bottom of the 11th in a tie game!

(10:31 p.m.) Yesterday we had a Madden '08-like football game between the Browns and Indians that thrilled us to the very end. Tonight we've got extra innings in a battle for first between the Tribe and Tigers. If the Cavs trade for Kobe Bryant tomorrow, God Hates Cleveland Sports is going to have to change its name.

(10:28 p.m.) Full count to Gutierrez. Might as well start Barfield here. After all, he's about ready to transfer to Northern Illinois ... And it's a strike-em-out, throw-em-out. More free baseball!

(10:26 p.m.) Zach Miner's all over the place to every hitter. Soon enough he's going to groove one ...

(10:23 p.m.) And Peralta makes it to first again with his third walk. And Josh Barfield lives? The new Herb Washington takes Peralta's spot, and they better not have put him in to stand on first, even with Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate.

(10:20 p.m.) It's Victor, perfect Jhonny P, and Gutierrez due up in the 10th. If Jhonny P lets it get that far.

(10:17 p.m.) Another long Betancourt inning, and another good result. Ordonez flies out to right and the Tribe has another chance to walk off.

(10:11 p.m.) Betancourt whiffs Granderson to start the 10th, but that stinking Placido Polanco doubles to left. This is getting scary.

(10:08 p.m.) Rick Manning tells us that this is the fourth extra-inning game between the Tigers and Indians, with the road team winning all three previous. The Tribe has come out on top twice. And now the Indians have Betancourt and Perez lined up, so they're looking good.

(10:06 p.m.) Who wants some free baseball? We're getting it tonight as playoff baseball seems to have come early to the Jake. Hafner grounds out to end the ninth as Leyland looks like a genius.

(10:05 p.m.) Perhaps Leyland's looking for a cigarette instead of a left-handed reliever.

(10:04 p.m.) Did the Tigers really throw four balls to Asdrubal so they could bring the lefty in to face Hafner? It's either the biggest screwup in baseball history or the most ballsy call ever. Leyland's frozen in the dugout and he lets his Miner leaguer face Hafner!

(10:02 p.m.) Grady goes the other way, but it's a can of corn. Asdrubal now primed to get his first head pounding with a walkoff single ...

(9:59 p.m.) Blake gets the walk, Shoppach the bunt, and now the Tribe has two shots to score the winning run from the top of the lineup. Zach Miner, would you like to play a game? Grady Sizemore or Asdrubal Cabrera -- make your choice!

(9:53 p.m.) Borowski goes the distance with Inge before getting the flyout to left. We're heading to the bottom of the ninth in a tie game with The Owner's Son due up to start it. Can he get his second walkoff of the homestand?

(9:50 p.m.) Peralta turning into Cal Ripken! A one-hopper right at him deep in the hole turns into an out at third as the pinch-runner Maybin thinks he can beat the throw to third. You can feel the Jacobs Field energy through the television. The only question now is who gets the walkoff in the bottom of the ninth.

(9:48 p.m.) Asdrubal takes an elbow to the Chief Wahoo logo on Maybin's stolen base. Josh Barfield seen putting his uniform back on!

(9:45 p.m.) Casey singles and is pinch-run for by Cameron Maybin. Leyland with a tip of the cap to expanded rosters, as Marcus Thames comes up to hit for Santiago. This looks like a homer or strikeout situation.

(9:44 p.m.) Joe Borowski inspires as much confidence as a waitress at IHOP, but at least he's facing that bottom third of the Tigers lineup. And Leyland no longer needs his defensive replacement, so Clevlan doesn't get to bat in Cleveland. Sean Casey does instead.

(9:42 p.m.) Zumaya, my Lord, Zumaya .... Zumaya, my Lord, Zumaya ... Zumaya, my Lord, Zumaya ... O, Lord, Zumaya ... Someone's laughing, Lord, at Zumaya ... Someone's laughing, Lord, at Zumaya ... Someone's laughing, Lord, at Zumaya ... O, Lord, at Zumaya ... Someone's crying, Lord, it's Zumaya ... Someone's crying, Lord, it's Zumaya ... Someone's crying, Lord, it's Zumaya ... O, Lord, it's Zumaya

(9:39 p.m.) We're basically in extra innings now, sports fans. The Tribe ties it up in the ninth on JP's second homer of the game, as he has more than made up for his early error. It's a battle of the bullpens now, and the Tribe still has almost all of its bullets in the gun. Should the Tigers lose this one, they might just pack it in for the rest of the series.

(9:37 p.m.) It must feel like the old days to Lofton, as the fans stand and chant, "Kenny, Kenny, Kenny, Kenny" with the Indians in a tie game in the late innings. No, Kenny Rogers, they're not talking to you!!

(9:34 p.m.) And we remember back to Aug. 23 when Zumaya gave up three runs in an inning against the Tribe to take the loss against the Tribe in a 10-9 game. Zumaya has given up six runs in 2 innings of work against the Indians this season. Apparently they should have left Kenny Rogers in. Tribe still not done as Franklin Gutierrez pinch-singles with two outs. Can Lofton rip one into the right field corner to give the Tribe the lead?

(9:32 p.m.) Peralta's been perfect tonight, and he stays perfect as he bombs Leyland's bomb with a jack to right. We have a tie game!!! No win for you, Kenny Rogers!!

(9:30 p.m.) Hafner might like to have that one back, as it was in his wheelhouse down and in. It's a groundout to second to advance the runners, so not a total disaster as Victor comes up to bat. Do they give him anything to hit?

(9: 28 p.m.) Hopefully Ivan Rodriguez wasn't planning on having any more kids anytime soon. Travis Hafner's foul tip just took care of any intentions Pudge might have had for the next few weeks.

(9:27 p.m.) Two on and no one out as Asdrubal slaps one through the left side! Tying run is up in Hafner, and it's going to be hard to shift him with two on and none out. Is it time for that Jacobs Field magic once again?? Here comes Leyland to tell Zumaya to quit screwing up the game.

(9:26 p.m.) Has Grady Sizemore already earned the same respect as some of the game's best? For a guy who strikes out a lot he sure has a good eye. He takes a very close 1-2 pitch from Zumaya that is called a ball, and winds up with a walk. Sizemore did the same thing in the comeback victory against the Kansas City Royals a few weeks ago that really got the Tribe rolling to where they are now.

(9:25 p.m.) Some guy names Clevlen comes in to play left; presumably he can catch a fly ball or two. But the real move is Leyland pushes the button and brings in Zumaya to face the Tribe's top three.

(9:20 p.m.) Looked like Sheffield was safe at third as The Owner's Son tagged him on the back of the calf on a steal attempt. But it goes down as a caught stealing for Shoppach since the ball beat Sheff by a mile. And the crowd gets itself into the game -- keep "Hang on Sloopy" in Columbus where it belongs!!

(9:16 p.m.) And the Tribe pulls one out of the Browns' playbook, blasting "Hang on Sloopy" over the loudspeakers to try to generate some excitement from the crowd. It works for about five seconds.

(9:14 p.m.) Remember this?

"(7:34 p.m.) Byrd must dominate the bottom three of the Tigers lineup."
Well, Timo Perez is 1-for-3 with an RBI and Ramon Santiago is 2-for-3 with two RBI. This is worse than walking the last guy in a softball lineup. And now Byrd gets himself into eighth-inning trouble and won't even make it through this inning. Aaron Fultz is in to save what he can from the burning building.

(9:12 p.m.) Wow, Paul Byrd's out for the eighth inning. He's tossed two complete games so far this year and went into the ninth in another, so you have to wonder if he's going to come back out for the ninth should he cruise here.

(9:07 p.m.) Meanwhile the Tribe's Kelly waves at a big slow bender to end the seventh, and Kenny Rogers has gone seven innings for the first time this season. Leyland's still got his nuclear weapons waiting in the bullpen.

(9:05 p.m.) STO advertises "Prelude to a Championship" next Monday night, causing a collective dropping of the stomach in Greater Cleveland. Relax -- it's not about the Indians, who haven't won anything yet. It's about Youngstown boxer Kelly Pavlik, who's going for the middleweight championship of the world on Sept. 29.

(9:02 p.m.) Lofton flies out as Mark Shapiro thanks his maker that he didn't give up anything of value for him. Lofton's hitting just .280 with a .350 OBP and .350 SLG for the Tribe. He's been caught stealing three of five times since coming over from Texas and has scored only 21 runs in 143 ABs. He had three times as many runs in just over double the ABs with the Rangers.

(9:00 p.m.) Another amazing play at second base by lanky Asdrubal Cabrera makes it eight in a row set down by Byrd. We're to stretch time as Josh Barfield has PR permanently etched by his name.

(8:56 p.m.) And Kenny Rogers has just tied Mark Langston for the all-time lead in pickoffs with 91 by nailing Jason Michaels to end the sixth inning. Michaels is left complaining that Rogers balked, just like the last 90 Kenny's picked off said.

(8:55 p.m.) Wedge is already planning his postgame remarks. "We just have to keep grinding." "Detroit is a good team." "The season's not over and we're going one game at a time." "These guys know what's at stake." "I don't know why I played Jason Michaels and didn't bunt with Casey Blake."

(8:44 p.m.) Byrd gets a couple nice plays from Lofton in left and gets the Tigers in order to finish the sixth. But the Tribe IS RUNNING OUT OF TIME!! to steal a line from Jack Bauer and Tri-C. Do you really want the Tigers to get to Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya with this lead? Something's gotta happen pretty fast if the Indians don't want this lead to drop to 3.5 ...

(8:43 p.m.) Remember when Carlos Guillen was an Indian for about a day and a half? Everyone forgets, but the Indians did trade Omar Vizquel for Guillen before the 2003 season, only to have Omar fail a physical, negating the trade. The Tigers then swooped in and acquired Guillen for Ramon Santiago -- and guess who's playing short for the Tigers tonight? What a trade for the Tigers. The Mariners have a thing about giving away shortstops. They traded Omar to the Indians way back when for Felix Fermin, and gave the Tribe Asdrubal Cabrera for Eduardo Perez last season.

(8:41 p.m.) Yep, things still look a bit bleak from the Panini's Cam as well. Still 5-2 Tigers as we enter the sixth.

(8:38) And the shift burns Hafner in the fifth as the Tribe goes punchless in the fifth. I think by now Hafner would love to take the shift into a back alley and beat the crap out of it. He sure isn't doing anything against it on the field this season.

(8:36 p.m.) The Owner's Son turns a double play to get the Tribe through the fifth with no damage. That might buy Paul Byrd another inning. Believe it or not, Byrd has the most playoff experience of anyone on the Tribe roster. He pitched in two games with the Braves in the 2004 NLDS against Houston, taking a loss in 5.2 IP. He returned to the playoffs with the Angels the next season, getting hammered by the Yankees in one 3.2 inning start in the ALDS, then pitching 10.2 innings over two starts in the ALCS against the White Sox, going 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA. Only C.C. Sabathia, with one start in the 2000 playoffs, Joe Borowski, with a save in 7.2 innings with the Cubs in 2003, and Aaron Fultz (4 IP, 6.75 ERA with the Giants) have pitched in the playoffs besides Byrd.

(8:30 p.m.) The howls over Wedge's decision to not bunt with Blake have begun in earnest. But come on -- you don't expect The Owner's Son to do anything but swing for the fences, do you??

(8:27 p.m.) Blake flies out to right and then Shoppach hits into the double play. Thousands of fantasy football players look at the clock to see if Monday Night Football has started yet, especially with Byrd still on the mound.

(8:23 p.m.) Lofton gets a lucky break as Timo Perez misplays his second ball of the game. Tying run is now up as The Owner's Son steps in!

(8:20 p.m.) Peralta goes deep to center to start the fifth! He buys back the run he gave away by letting Ivan Rodriguez on base. Even Zydrunas Ilgauskas wouldn't have caught that one. Michaels follows with a rip to left, and maybe it's the Tribe's turn to tee off on Rogers.

(8:15 p.m.) You'd think Derek Anderson just showed up. Brandon Inge bunts his way into an improbable 2-5-3 double play while trying to sacrifice, and the Tribe might just escape this inning without half the fans leaving the Jake.

(8:15 p.m.) Unbelievable. Detroit's minor-league shortstop gets a bunt hit to score Rodriguez and it's 5-1 Tigers. Still two on, still two out, still a Cleveland team doing whatever it can do to give away a game when the pressure's on.

(8:13 p.m.) Wow. Timo Perez rips it to right, Jason Michaels boots to let Rodriguez go to third, another run in, it's 4-1 Tigers. Two on, none out. And that noose is being fitted for Tribe necks once again.

(8:10 p.m.) Oh, boy, the wheels on this cart are getting wobbly. Peralta boots Ivan Rodriguez's slow grounder and the Tribe doesn't even trade the run for the out. First and third with no one out and it's now 3-1.

(8:07 p.m.) Another double for Guillen as he croquet-shots one down the third base line. Guillen couldn't have rolled the ball down third with his bare hands and got better results. Byrd quickly losing his chances at sticking as the Tribe's third starter in the playoffs. He's throwing strikes and the Tigers are hitting them.

(8:05 p.m.) That's two liners right over Peralta's glove as Ordonez scorches one to left. Maybe the Tribe should sign Zydrunas Ilgauskas to play shortstop. Cal Ripken proved that tall shortstops can get it done. Heck, most people want Ja-honny off short anyway.

(8:02 p.m.) Inge gobbles it up at third to end the inning. Tigers leading 2-1. Rogers knowing when to fold 'em so far.

(8:00 p.m.) Hafner does what he couldn't do in the first inning with a man on third, smacking a single to center. That breaks a string of six straight retired by Rogers. Now team MVP Victor Martinez is up ...

(7:55 p.m.) YOU ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!! First Jack Bauer's catch phrase, now Tri-C's.
(7:53 p.m.) Byrd's through three innings in less pitches than it took Rogers to get through two. But Rogers has the lead, thanks mostly to Hafner's first-inning whiff with a runner at third. Kennnnnnnnny, you're my laaddddddy!!

(7:50 p.m.) Placido Polanco is the first one to go deep tonight? Note to Paul Byrd -- QUIT THROWING PITCHES DOWN THE MIDDLE TO SLAPPIES!! First he hung one to Santiago, now a floater to Polanco.

(7:45 p.m.) Contact us on our new AOL IM screen name: GodHateClevSport!

(7:40 p.m.) The Owner's Son steps in and takes a strike. No, Casey Blake's last name isn't Dolan, but why else do you think he's in the lineup every single day? He's second on the team in games and at-bats! This despite being 110th in baseball in OPS, out of 164 regulars. He's fourth among AL third basemen in OPS, which sounds pretty good until you hear there's only nine AL third basemen who are everyday players. Apparently just being able to suit up makes you valuable. Just ask Nick Punto!

(7:37 p.m.) Santiago turns back into a pumpkin when Byrd picks him off to end the inning. Just the second time Byrd's picked anyone off this season. Santiago certainly earned it.

(7:35 p.m.) And Santiago bloops one into left just over Peralta to tie the game. It's like getting burnt by the last girl in the order in your co-ed softball league.

(7:34 p.m.) Byrd must dominate the bottom three of the Tigers lineup. Timo Perez and Ramon Santiago simply aren't major leaguers, and the Tigers should be ashamed of using both of them in this must-win game. Perez is already out on a shot to Cabrera. Santiago looks like the kid who plays right field on your Little League team so far ...

(7:33 p.m.) The early Byrd grabs the wormburner!

(7:27 p.m.) Jason Michaels gets the start over Franklin Gutierrez today. Perhaps its a Wedgie but feeling, as J-Mike is a career .300 hitter against the gambler. Tough decision to make, as Gutierrez has been the everyday right fielder since the beginning of August. And the gut decision makes us sick as Michaels grounds out to short to end the first.

(7:25 p.m.) Here comes Astroball with the first run of the series! Ivan Rodriguez forgets to catch Rogers pitch and it goes to the backstop. Rodriguez, thinking he's back playing kickball in gym class, nails Cabrera in the stomach with his throw to the plate. Unlike in kickball, Astroball is safe.

(7:23 p.m.) Kenny Rogers forgot to shave this morning. And yesterday morning. Either that or he's trying to look more like the other Kenny Rogers. Don't expect to see Rogers replacing Keith Hernandez or Walt Frazier in those Just For Men commercials anytime soon. He defines greybeard.

(7:22 p.m.) Man, Hafner's down season continues. Infield in and he can't even put wood to leather. Amazing this team's won 90 games with his rather pedestrian numbers.

(7:20 p.m.) Is Cabrera wearing one of those candy necklaces that fifth-grade girls like? That thing should be half gone by the sixth inning.

(7:15 p.m.) And Astroball Cabrera brings the excitement to the Jake, jacking one off the wall in left and racing around to third! Triple-A outfielder Timo Perez turned a fly ball into the triple by leaping a foot away from the wall. Somewhere Josh Barfield silently weeps.

(7:12 p.m.) And Grady puts away the long can of corn from Ordonez to end the scoreless top of the first. Over to The Point After, and we see a smiling Romeo Crennel!! Romeo Crennel DOES change facial expressions.

(7:10 p.m.) Byrd throws nothing but strikes, which is scary sometimes. These Tigers hit the ball hard! Granderson drilled one foul deep to right, Sheffield rips one in the hole to left. As long as they keep hitting at-em balls...

(7:04 p.m.) Contact us on our new AOL IM screen name: GodHateClevSport!

(6:56 p.m.) WOW! Optimistic Tribe fans. STO's pregame poll shows that 65% pick the Indians to win two games in the series and only 15% say the Tigers will win the series. Where have all the pessimistic Cleveland fans gone? Next you'll say the Browns are going to score 51 points in one game.

(6:53 p.m.) Tough choice at 7 p.m. Do we watch Angry Tony and the boys not be angry as they discuss the Browns on WKYC's The Point After, or do we watch the Tribe from first pitch? This is a football town -- can't wait to see the ratings for these broadcasts when it's all over.

(6:47 p.m.) Ah, new pregame "cohost" Ryan Garko alludes to Shoppach being Byrd's personal catcher. That's why Garko sits.

(6:42 p.m.) Well, Garko's hand doesn't hurt so much that he can't hold an STO microphone. Can't tell if it's swollen or not, since he's a beefy dude to begin with. How can Pawlowski not even ask Garko why he's not in the lineup, especially against a lefty??

(6:36 p.m.) STO's Al Pawlowski just said the Tigers are the hottest team in baseball right now -- 10-2 in their last 12. Boy, can the Tribe hope just to take one game??


This is it, sports fans. Tonight the Indians face the Detroit Tigers in a three-game set that goes a long way toward deciding the Tribe's postseson fate. No, even if the Tigers sweep the Tribe won't be knocked out. They won't even be knocked out of first. With a 4.5 game lead, the Indians will still be a game and a half ahead if the Tigers take all three at the Jake. But it will sure make for some queasy stomachs in Cleveland, as we'll start thinking here we go again ...

Tonight's starting lineups:

DETROIT: CF Granderson (the new Grady Sizemore?), 2B Polanco, DH Sheffield, RF Ordonez, 1B Guillen, C Rodgriguez, LF Timo Perez, SS Santiago, 3B Inge; P Rogers

CLEVELAND: CF Sizemore, 2B Cabrera, DH Hafner, 1B Martinez, SS Peralta, RF Michaels, LF Lofton, 3B Blake, C Shoppach; P Byrd

The Tigers have some problems at the bottom of their order what with career minor leaguers Timo Perez (just 98 big-league ABs the last two seasons), and Ramon Santiago (no more than 100 big-league ABs in any of the last four seasons) in front of Brandon Inge. All three are free swingers with a combined OBP of under .310. That bodes well for a strikethrower like Byrd.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hitting the jackpot

Once again, our giant slot machine on the lake pays off.

You know how it goes. Sell out every game since the Browns return to the NFL in 1999. Lay an egg in most of them -- a 21-45 home record the testament to that. Raise fans expectations and then dump a bucket of ice water over them almost every time.

Certainly THAT'S not what's bringing 73,089 people to Cleveland Browns Stadium eight times a year. No, it's the slot machine theory. The fans are attracted to the team, they buy tickets (and t-shirts and hates and sweatshirts and beer) once attracted, and they continue to root for the team for years and years. The fans continue these activities despite loss after loss after loss.

Then there's what psychology professor Tom Creed calls the reinforcement function. That's the periodic payout which occurs unpredictably and in variable sizes. Kinda like the Browns' 51-45 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in which Derek Anderson tied the franchise single-game record with five touchdown passes. Triple 7s and a $10 million jackpot indeed.

Anyone who runs a casino can tell you why every Cleveland Browns home game has sold out since the team returned in 1999. It's certainly not the 41-89 record that Browns 2.0 have put together. It's not the procession of quarterbacks from Ty Detmer to Tim Couch to Spergeon Wynn to Doug Pederson to Kelly Holcomb to Jeff Garcia to Luke McCown to Trent Dilfer to Charlie Frye to Derek Anderson. It's not the record against Pittburgh, which has won 15 of the 17 matchups since the Browns returned to the NFL. And it's not cheap beer prices.

No, it’s the shootout that D.A. inexplicably won against Carson Palmer that brings Browns fans back. It’s things like Jamal Lewis’ 215 rushing yards and 66-yard scoring run. It’s things like Braylon Edwards’ diving 34-yard touchdown catch and 146 receiving yards. It’s things like Kellen Winslow’s 100 yards and a score through the air. It’s things like Leigh Bodden’s last-second interception to preserve the victory.

The slot machine effect was in full view at Cleveland Browns Stadium yesterday as we saw the Browns score the most points in a home game in team history. It was also the most points by a Browns team since they opened the 1989 season with a 51-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Was it real or was it just a lucky pull of the one-armed bandit? Derek Anderson wasn’t even good enough to beat out Charlie Frye in the preseason. Then, after a quarter and a half of awful football against the Steelers, Frye gets shipped to Seattle, D.A. becomes the placeholder until Brady Quinn is ready, and then …

and then, 20-of-33 completions for 328 yards and five touchdowns. This from a guy with six career touchdown passes coming into the game. And it all came after D.A. started 3-for-10 with a sack and a fumble. Similar stats got Charlie Frye fried the previous week.

So the pendulum swings the other way after a week of turmoil. We went from the optimism of a new season to the pessimism a crushing defeat by Pittsburgh brings back to the optimism a stirring victory coupled with a trip to winless Oakland. Just don’t get too excited. After all, Kelly Holcomb has two of the Browns biggest passing yardage days in the regular season and one of their biggest in the playoffs. There's a reason the slot machine rarely hits triple 7s.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Oh, no, Ocho

Browns fans, your honor is at stake.

Last week, your arch-rivals from Pittsburgh came to town and left with your wives, your girlfriends, your children -- basically everything that wasn't nailed down. Heck, they basically left with your former starting quarterback.

Now Cincinnati Bengal wants what's left. He wants the Dawg Pound.

Known for his flamboyant celebrations, sometimes mohawk, and 42 career touchdowns, tell-all Chad has a special one planned for his team's game at Clevland Browns Stadium. He wants to bring the Lambeau Leap to the Dawg Pound.

"I hope I get in there," he said. "They can give me some popcorn -- throw some beers at me - whatever they want to do. I'm going to jump in the Dawg Pound. It should be fun. It would be a first."
That's right. Good ole Ocho Cinco plans to toss his No. 85-clad body INTO THE DAWG POUND if he scores a touchdown at that end of the field.

The Dawg Pound. That sacred place where true Browns fans congregate to dress like extras from The Hills Have Eyes 2, root on their Browns, get drunk, scream obscenities, fight, and pee without actually going to the bathroom.

The Dawg Pound. The true representation of Cleveland football. The true identity of the Cleveland Browns, harkening back to Frank Minnifield and Hanford Dixon. It's where Big Dawg John Thompson became a minor celebrity, where Bone Lady holds court, where Charlie's Fryes root on their favorite quarterback.

It's what makes Cleveland Browns football Cleveland Browns football. Just say Dawg Pound within earshot of football fans, and they'll know exactly what you're talking about. Well, unless they're wearing a Michael Vick jersey.

And now Chad Johnson wants to invade.

Look, Browns fans, five straight double-digit losses to Pittsburgh are humiliating. Seven straight losses within the division are humiliating. Appointing Charlie Frye your starting quarterback and then trading him after he plays for a quarter and a half is humiliating. Right now, just being a Cleveland Browns fan is humiliating.

But right now it's time to draw the line. Do whatever is needed to keep Chad Johnson from leaping into the Dawg Pound. It's up to you, Browns fans, because Browns players don't seem capable. Put a brick wall up in front of the Pound, raise a giant net, dig a moat between the end zone and the stands, bring a few guard dawgs from home to guard you. Do whatever it takes to keep Chad Johnson from taking away the last thing we have to be proud of.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A little Byrd-ie told me

You get the feeling that in this town, if the Browns announced they had done nothing, absolutley nothing, for the day, it would be bigger news than an Indians pennant race. So you can imagine what happens when they become the first team in history to trade the quarterback who started their first game before they even played their second game.

Yes, news of the Indians reducing their magic number to 11 -- lowest in baseball, by the way -- reaches us in whispers while sky-is-falling rhetoric about the Browns and ex-quarterback Charlie Frye hits us from all angles. Yes, the Indians won 8-3 last night, right about the time that Charlie Frye was boarding a plane for Seattle, probably never to be seen again.

If you believe the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Frye will be the third quarterback on a team that saw fit to go into the season with just two of them. The incumbent, Matt Hasselbeck, won't be taking a seat on the bench anytime soon. And he won't be moving backup quarterback Seneca Wallace to wide receiver,either.

So while Patrick McManamon is stunned and baffled, while Terry Pluto tries to figure out just what the heck the Browns are doing, while Angry Tony looks ahead to Plan C, and while fans in the blogosphere call for the heads of everyone from Rover Cleveland to Art Modell, we'll just keep focusing on the Indians who just keep focusing on winning. Last night's 8-3 victory over the White Sox behind unsung hero Paul Byrd gives the Tribe 17 wins in their last 21 games. Their 6.5 game lead over the Detroit Tigers is the second-largest of any division leader. And perhaps we've got some security through 2012, since the last-place Chicago White Sox decided yesterday that Ozzie Guillen's the man to run the show for the next half-decade.

Everywhere else they can decry the Charlie Frye trade. Here, we'll just keep counting down to 94 wins.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Frye no longer the guy

Go west, young man, the Browns have told Charlie Frye. The geniuses in charge of the Browns have decided a guy they cut a week ago (Ken Dorsey) is better than the guy that chose to start the first game (Charlie Frye).

Early rumors had the Browns talking trade with the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons before striking a deal with the Seattle Seahawks. Apparently the Giants laughed and hung up the phone while the Falcons said they'd rather wait for Michael Vick to get out of jail.

Maybe the Browns should have sent Charlie to Cincinnati, then dispatched someone to Bengals practice with a club to try out on Carson Palmer's reconstructed knee.

Apparently the Browns will receive a sixth-round draft pick from the Seahawks. This came as a surprise to Phil Savage, who was willing to accept three Venti Pumpkin Spice lattes and free shipping on all books about football coaching ordered through Amazon.com.

Meanwhile, Browns fans vent their frustrations with the current regime on message boards all over the Internet.
Bringing Dorsey back

We've come a long way from Bernie Bernie and The 12 Days of Browns Christmas. Now Browns fans are stuck with the Ken Dorsey Fight Song. (Sorry, Justin Timberlake.):

They're bringing Dorsey back
Them other QBs can't avoid a sack
Ken's a special type of quarterback
Turn us around and pick up the slack.

Take em' to the end zone!


Ken Dorsey
Avoid the tacklers
Baby you amaze
Whip up on the Bengals when they misbehave
Derek and Charlie can't make us feel this way

Take em' to the playoffs!


Come here, Ken
Go ahead, be gone with it
Come on, quarterback
Go ahead, be gone with it
Go ahead, be gone with it
Drinks on me
Go ahead, be gone with it
Let me see what you're working with
Go ahead, be gone with it
Look at those tight ends!
Go ahead, be gone with it
You make me smile
Go ahead, be gone with it
Go ahead child
Go ahead, be gone with it
And get your touchdown on
Go ahead, be gone with it
Get your touchdown on
Go ahead, be gone with it

Get your sexy on

They're bringing Dorsey back
Them other QBs don't know how to act
Come on, Ken, make up for the things they lack
Cause we're burning up I gotta get it fast
Take em' to the end zone



They're bringing Dorsey back
Tell Charlie Frye to get his bag packed
Now all you Steelers better watch your back
Cause he'll burn it up for us and that's a fact
Take em' to the playoffs!

Want Frye with that?

In what has quickly become the biggest disaster in Cleveland sports since Art Modell boarded a plane on a Baltimore tarmac, the Browns are working on trading Charlie Frye -- or just flat out cutting him.

Callers to WKNR suggested trading him to IHOP for a $20 gift certificate, or to Tyson Chicken so he could run the assembly line.

Now, while this isn't Bill Belichick releasing fan favorite Bernie Kosar for "diminished skills", it's certainly another black mark on a once-proud franchise. A quarter and a half against your arch-rival was all you needed to see to know that Charlie Frye couldn't get it done? The 18 other games Charlie started in his career didn't give you enough evidence? If Browns brass didn't think poorly enough of Charlie Frye to dump him in the offseason, why in the world do it now when every other team has seen that he still sucks? And while most fans will miss Charlie as much as they miss a cold, the fact remains that this is to whom the Browns decided to hitch their wagon.

Rumors abound that Charlie could go to the New York Giants, who may or may not be in the market for a quarterback thanks to Eli Manning's shoulder injury. And then there's that team in Atlanta, whose former quarterback specialized in killing dogs (not Dawgs). Perhaps that is Charlie's new destination.

If neither of those works out, the Browns will flat out cut their starting quarterback.

In any case, this is a colossol blunder that should cost the entire Browns front office and coaching staff their jobs. They've taken the most important position on the team and turned it into a joke. Obviously Phil Savage wasn't smart enough from the beginning to realize that his team couldn't win with Charlie Frye. And having Frye (and stiff backup Derek Anderson) forced on him has made Romeo Crennel look like he's constantly constipated.

You can bet they're celebrating in Dallas, where the odds of hearing, "With the first pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select Darren McFadden, running back, Arkansas" just got that much better.
The morning roundup

And you thought the Browns were providing plenty of material before they brought Ken Dorsey back into town. The Plain Dealer provided the headline that will sum up the Browns season even though there's 15 more games to play: What Are They Doing Now? The only thing missing was three more question marks. Ken Dorsey to the rescue!

Now rumors abound that Charlie Frye will be released. ProFootballTalk.com is the only place putting the kibosh on that one. The site also says Dorsey actually LIVES in Berea. Poor guy.

Still, the Browns have plenty of other unanswered questions, like exactly who is going to start Sunday's game, says Marla Ridenour. And who will be cut if Dorsey rejoins the team. And, as Patrick McManamon wonders, why is the defense so lousy?

Bud Shaw says the Browns owe their fans, especially the guy who has spent 11 grand watching them suck for the past few years.

Only in Cleveland could a horrible football team lose a game horrible to the team that always treats it like an ant at a picnic and have it overshadow a first-place baseball team. The Tribe won once again, enduring a near 2½-hour rain delay to beat the White Sox 6-2 in a game that ended after Monday Night Football. Their magic number is now 14.

Despite all this, it's nothing compared to what would have been on GHCS had the Internet been around 25 years ago. We're reminded of that with the passing of Ted Stepien, former Cavs owner, to whom Bob Dolgan and Bob Finnan pay tribute today.

Monday, September 10, 2007

For openers ...

Our Browns have played 55 home openers since joining the NFL in 1950. Believe it or not, usually the Browns leave the home team happy, with a 28-26-1 record in those openers.

It's only recently they've left us feeling like a kindergartner ready to pee his pants on the first day of school when the season opens. Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns have opened the season at home every year. They're 1-8 in those games. In three of them the winning points came with one second or less showing on the clock.

When the Browns blow a home opener, they really blow it. This year they didn't even make it to the last play of the game before we began talking about the end of both Charlie Frye's and Romeo Crennel's Browns careers.

Where does this home-opening disaster rank among the Browns' all-time flops? Let's count them down ...

8. VIKINGS 42, BROWNS 10 (1975)
-- It wasn't disappointing, as the Browns were an awful team that lost its first nine games. But a 42-10 loss wasn't fun for the 68,064 in attendance. And it was the beginning of the worst three-game home stretch in team history. The next week, the Steelers joined in the fun by crushing the Browns 42-6. Then the Houston Oilers followed with a 40-10 victory in the fourth game of the season. This thoroughly forgettable version of the Browns finished with a 3-11 record, worst in team history to that point.

Tbe game was so awful it prompted coach Forrest Gregg to say, "We didn't even make the Vikings mad at us."

After starting with a 17-7 victory over the Washington Redskins, the Browns came back home to begin defense of another NFL championship -- and were buried in front of 80,161 fans. Not only does the 36-point loss stand up as the second-most lopsided loss in a Browns home opener, but the team also lost staring quarterback Frank Ryan to injury.

Ryan only missed one game, and like the 1950 edition -- and certainly unlike our current squad -- the Browns rebounded to make the NFL Championship once again. This time they lost to the Green Bay Packers, 23-12.

OK, it's the worst home-opening loss in Browns history. It was the worst offensive performance in team history, as Ty Detmer led the Browns to 40 total yards. It was the Steelers biggest margin of victory in Cleveland. All of it came in front of 73,138 fans.

But at least the lopsided loss could be tempered by the fact that football was back! If we only knew ...

5. CHARGERS 44, BROWNS 14 (1981)
In what has become something of a tradition, the fans were booing the Browns at halftime as quarterback Fouts brought his Chargers into Cleveland Municipal Stadium and scored the second-most points against the Browns in an opener. The Chargers' output was expected; Fouts had set an NFL record the previous season. The Browns was not, as quarterback Brian Sipe was the one who won the MVP award in 1980.

It was the first of many disappointments as the Browns went 5-11 following their Kardiac Kids season.

4. SAINTS 19, BROWNS 14 (2006)
OK, so the Saints turned out to be a pretty good team. And the Browns turned out to be a pretty lousy team. But no one knew that's how it would be heading in. Instead, the Browns hit a 74-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game, only to see it called back because of a holding penalty.

Indeed, the whole season should have been called back.

3. STEELERS 34, BROWNS 7 (2007)
Sure, the high hopes for this season were based on our third-string rookie quarterback who wasn't going to play unless he brought his GameBoy. But four penalties on one play? Charlie Frye yanked before halftime? A game that reminded us of that first game back in 1999?


The Browns brought a helluva report card into their first NFL home game. They had won four straight All-America Football Conference titles before the NFL admitted them. Stars such as quarterback Otto Graham, receivers Dante Lavelli and Mac Speedie, and kicker Lou Groza helped the Browns dominate the AAFC with a 52-4-3 record. They had opened with convincing victories over the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Colts by a combined 66-10.

Then the Giants handed the Browns their first ever shutout in front of 37,647 fans. Yoiu thought the Browns had bad quarterbacks Sunday? Otto Graham didn't complete a pass in the first half against the Giants and threw four interceptions.

Of course, that Browns team turned out to be pretty good. It went 10-2, losing twice to the Giants in the regular season, before turning around and beating the Giants in the playoffs and then winning the NFL championship over the Rams, 30-28.
Dwayne Rudd lost his head, then his helmet, and the Browns lost themselves a game they had won in the most disappointing home opener in team history.

One what should have been the final play of the game, the former Brown linebacker had Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Trent Green wrapped up for a sack. But just before Rudd planted Green, the QB tossed the ball away to lineman John Tait. Tait only made it to the Browns' 25. Game over, right?

Wrong. Rudd didn't know Green had rid himself of the ball. Rudd decided to celebrate by ripping his helmet off and throwing it while running the other way. That brought a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, giving the Chiefs one more play. They made it count when Gary Anderson nailed a 30-yard field goal to win the game.

Tony Grossi wrote perhaps his most prescient paragraph ever in The Plain Dealer: "There may be no worse way to lose a football game. Then again, stay tuned."

We only needed to stay tuned to the end of the season, when the Browns finally made the playoffs, then choked away their chance in a loss at arch-rival Pittsburgh in the AFC Wild Card game. The Browns haven't even been able to spell playoffs since.

Eulogies for the Browns

The Indians are back in front of the AL Central by seven games, the Tigers are effectively neutered by the end of Jeremy Bonderman's season, but no one would know it because of all the hand-wringing over the hapless Browns.

There's Bill Livingston, who's head is spinning from the Browns quarterback carousel. There's Terry Pluto, who has to look really, really hard -- like through the Hubble Telescope -- to find signs of anything remotely good about this Browns game. Then there's these poor suckers, who spent upwards of $1,500 to watch this priceless performance. And Bob Finnan throws the first spadeful of dirt on Charlie Frye's grave.

Yahoo's James C. Black says Romeo Crennel is close to being Butch Davised, while the Browns get the only team showing on ESPN.com's Studs & Duds (and it's not hard to guess which side they fall into).

In Pittsburgh, Gene Collier says the Steelers used the Browns as a big old punching bag -- and we would know, as we felt it right in the gut while Bob Smizik wonders if the Steelers are that good or the Browns that bad. (Bob, do you really have to ask?)

Maybe what your mother said is true -- if you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

That's a lose

The best football analyst around sat on a bench in Public Square with a Browns pocket schedule in hand, reading off his predictions for the upcoming season.

"Then they got Baltimore -- that's a lose," he said as his audience slowly crept away. "Then New England. A lose.

"Now Miami. They might win that."

And this was hours BEFORE the latest wake by the lake in Cleveland Browns Stadium. Final score: Steelers 34, Browns 7. If you measure yourself against your rival, the Browns are getting worse and worse. During the Steelers' eight-game winning streak against the Browns, Cleveland has come within two touchdowns just twice. Pittsburgh has scored 24 or more the last seven times.

Hammer, meet nail. The new rivalry.

Remember when Brady Quinn joined the team late because of his holdout? Every minute away was time Quinn was falling behind in learning the offense.

"He's pretty far behind," said Crennel once Quinn missed his eighth day of training camp. "We have a lot of offense and we're putting it in every day. It takes a while to get this down and get caught up on it."

Well, here's what the guys who DIDN'T miss any training camp gave the Browns: six sacks, six penalties, three turnovers, and one quarterback change. And that was just in the first half. Charlie Frye was 4-of-10 for 34 yards and an interception, Derek Anderson was 3-of-10 for 34 yards with a lost fumble, and Crennel was tripping over the wire on his headset.

If all three of them had left Cleveland Browns Stadium at halftime and joined the Peace Corps, no one would have missed them.

And to think, all of this might just have started because the Browns were being cheap in signing a replacement punter for Dave Zastudil. When Paul Ernster simply dropped the snap on his first punt attempt from inside his 10, it set into motion a Rube Goldbergian series of events that had the Browns staring at a 17-0 deficit before Big Dawg was back from his first beer run.

First, the Browns kept hoping that the injured Zastudil would be able to play. When it became apparent Saturday morning that Zastudil's back wouldn't allow it, the Browns picked up Paul Ernster off the scrap heap. ProFootballTalk.com's rumor mill said the Browns may have chosen Ernster over more experienced punters such as Scott Player and Josh Miller because the latter two are vested veterans who would receive their entire first-year salary if cut after the first week. That doesn't apply to Ernster, who had only played one season. Aren't the Dolans supposed to be the cheap ones?

Back to the schedule, and the Public Square expert ...

... next week vs. the Bengals? "A lose."
... then at the Radiers. "Probably a lose."
... Ravens? Patriots? "Lose."
... the Dolphins at home. "They might win."

Then there's the bye week. And Brady Quinn. Which won't matter, because the next three games are a the Rams, at home against the Seahawks, and on the road in Pittsburgh. Then there's a trip to Baltimore.

Somewhere the Dallas Cowboys are smiling.

Your morning reading

* A Cy Young contender keeps our team in first place. Yes, this is about a Cleveland team.

* God hates Cleveland tailgaiters.

* Mary Kay Cabot thinks the Browns might actually be able to score. Some points.

* Phil Savage tells Terry Pluto this is your Browns team for the next three to five years. Gulp.

* Bill Livingston fires up the "Brady! Brady! Brady!" bandwagon.

* Tony Grossi ranks the Browns front office right around where most people rank the Browns. Hey, Tony, how long before you get mad this season?

* The only Romeo Crennel watch is the one on the coach's wrist, if you believe what Phil Savage is selling Bud Shaw.

* The Steelers have won seven in a row and 13 of 14, 14 of 17 since the Browns returned in 1999, seven of eight in Cleveland, and their last four openers, but Charlie Frye still likes the Browns chances.

* The Akron Beacon Journal really has nothing to say, other than Joe Jurevicius smells hot dogs and beer when he goes to the game.

* No worries -- Jeff Schudel points out that the Browns have beaten the Steelers' new coach in their first try every time! Too bad the last time they did it, none of the cast of High School Musical 2 was out of diapers.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Guilty as charged
-- for a minute

Terry Pluto made God Hates Cleveland Sports feel guilty.

Not for taking the summer off! Heck, no!

No, Terry Pluto wrote that familiar refrain when our teams are doing well: Quit yer crying!! Our Indians are in first place and they've just about got the division wrapped up. Yet still, says Pluto, "Hands wring, teeth gnash, violins weep."

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ... you talking to me?

Sure, there's been no lack of hands wringing, no shortage of teeth gnashing, and no lack of violins weeping here at GHCS. Well, except for the last three months. But the Steelers are in town, so lets start again!

Or maybe not. Maybe Terry Pluto is right. Maybe we should just sit back, and if winning is inevitable, just relax and enjoy it. Let's put on our #46 Doug Jones uniform, sit in the bleachers, and gulp down some dollar hot dogs. Let's call in to Bruce Drennan and Schwabby and praise Casey Blake's ability to be as average as can be. Let's send our name into the Indians' playoff ticket lottery and make plans for as many October nights as we can. After all, this is Cleveland Indians baseball we're talking about.

Terry Pluto made us feel guilty and we were on the verge of doing all that ...

... except ...

... except that just a few hours later Browns cornerback Leigh Bodden was arrested at the airport.

... except that just a few days later that seven-game Indians lead was down to five games and the Detroit Tigers were showing signs of life with a four-game winning streak.

... except that the Pittsburgh Steelers are in town, and Joshua Cribbs was predicting a Browns victory. (Here's a secret -- he's the only one.)

Yeah, we felt guilty for a few hours, because after all we DO have a first-place team on our hands. And we are riding high after the Cavs appearance in the NBA Finals just a few months ago. And we did get Brady Quinn AND Joe Thomas in the NFL draft.

But then Leigh Bodden reminded us -- you don't live in Cincinnati, you live in Cleveland!

And then we were just guilty for taking a summer vacation.