Monday, October 17, 2011

Longhorn Unfairly Made Scapegoat

At around 6:30 pm Sunday night I saw the all too familiar Cleveland mobs beginning to rally once again. “You light the torches! I’ll round up some pitch forks! McCoy must fall for this!” Fans have seen enough after 13 games to know Colt cannot be the one to right the ship in Cleveland. Because the end result has to fall on the QB, win or lose, in 2011. A 55% completion percentage is unacceptable. Suck for Luck! Never mind the fact that through 5 games this season McCoy has already attempted 217 passes when he had 222 in 8 games in 2010. Learning his 2nd offense, in his 2nd season, which was supposed to be his first had it not been for injuries and ineffectiveness from Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace one prior. And what happened to the lack of playmakers defense for the 25 year old Longhorn? After only 5 games the collective argument from the Dawg Pound has gone from “Get Colt some weapons!” to “Get Mohamed Massoquoi a new QB!” While I am certainly not blind to the passes thrown short and behind targets, I find it embarrassing the way Browns fans have pinned the blame squarely on the quarterback when there is plenty to go around.

How has the defense got a free pass this far into the season? The absent minded mistakes that often accompany the growth of a young team have been swept under the QB rug. What if the defense had lined up against the Bengals in the 4th quarter of week 1? What if one player had turned their head and called time out? A coach? How the hell did that play happen? What if T.J. Ward or any of the DBs could tackle that massive Tight End on Titans? At the very least he could have been pushed out of bounds. A kick return and a fake field goal for TDs were the difference yesterday. 4 plays. Drives totaling 4 minutes and 47 seconds. Are these not the game changing plays from each loss? A time out. A more emphatic lunge. One player not going for a blocked FG and a kick 2 yards deeper into the end zone completely change the atmosphere surrounding this team. As Dan LeBatard would say, have some perspective.

Who knows how much these plays have affected the offensive game plan? We’ve only seen one game where the Browns have had the lead for the majority of the 2nd half (Week 2 at Indy). Of McCoy’s 217 passes, 134 of them have come in the 2nd half. Does that have more to do with a new offense, a coach and RB conflicting off the field, or a team playing from behind week after week? Through 5 games I have to view it as the latter. If those plays were made, and the Browns were winning low scoring games, McCoy would be getting the rookie Roethlisberger treatment. “He doesn’t try to do too much!” “Game manager!” “Winner!”

What we’re watching is a young team, with a first year coach, and a first full year quarterback who from the beginning of the season we know had a best case scenario for 8 wins. The 2011 Browns have 10 games remaining on their schedule. Colt McCoy has earned enough respect from me to at least merit 20 games under his belt before my torch is lit.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Love Ubaldo, Man

First of all I need to apologize for my profanity laced Twitter rant that immediately followed the rumors of this trade.  I was caught off guard and, in a moment of weakness, threw some defensive jabs at the Indians front office with my thumb. But the dust has settled, plenty of beers have been drank, and countless baseball websites have been visited between now and then.  I must say… I think I love this trade.

Starting with the obvious reason, Ubaldo Jimenez immediately became the best pitcher in this rotation.  Maybe it was his decreased stats this season or having only 4 wins following the All-Star game in 2010, but Tribe fans’ reaction to Pomeranz and White for Ubaldo was as is if they traded Cliff Lee for Carlos Carasco and Lou Marson (*vomits in trash can*).  Fact is, the Indians just brought in a guy who, since 2008, has 52 wins, 702 strike outs, a 1.30WHIP, 3.70 ERA, and a .234 BAA.  The best hope for White and Pomeranz was that one of them put up those numbers at some point in their time in Cleveland.

What GM Chris Antonetti did was acquire that guy, in his prime to change the revolving door in this club house of developing talent mixed with departing, (proven) veterans approaching free agency.  Rather than having the heart of the order (Cabrera, Hafner, Choo) under contract for 2 ½ more seasons with a starting rotation that would rely heavily on Carlos Carrasco and David Huff, Antonetti gives them an All-Star, front of the rotation starter who will take pressure off of the rest of the staff and put the team in a position to contend for the next 3 seasons. 

The biggest argument you will hear (other than the PomerWhite price) was that the Indians would have benefited more by acquiring a middle of the order hitter than a front of the rotation starter. After all, they’re no-hit by Ervin Santana’s and shut out by the bleeping Royals.  Hunter Pence was available. He’s under club control for 2 more seasons also. Why not go get him, if you’re willing to move you’re top pitching prospects?  True, Hunter Pence would have been under contract for 2 more seasons in Cleveland, but his situation is different in that he is arbitration eligible for 2 more years where Ubaldo’s salary is set (at about $12 million total in 2012 and ’13).  Hunter Pence could make $12 million next year the way he is hitting the ball lately.  So would you rather have the 12 million dollar ace or the 24 million dollar clean up hitter? I suppose that depends on your own baseball philosophy but I know which I would take every time.

These are always fun! Player A has averaged 21 HRs, 88 RBI, and 22 steals with .300, .396, and .487 (AVG, OBP, SLG) over the past 2 seasons. Player B in that same time had 25 HR, 82 RBI, 16 S, and .282, .336, .466. Well, player B was Hunter Pence. Player A was…… wait for it…. Shin-Soo Choo! My point is the Indians already have the player everyone wanted them to acquire.  They didn’t need to give up their top prospects and cripple the payroll.  They use their top prospects for a Ubaldo/Masterson 1,2 punch while still having the payroll flexibility in the offseason to address more needs.  

“Grady isn’t ready to go next season? Not for that $9 million option.  We gotta win now. Hey Jeff Francoeur just had his best season and addresses the need for a RH bat.  Hey, Columbus native/Ohio State grad, Nick Swisher, we gotta win now. Sign em up!”

By selling future hype for present hope, the Indians have set themselves up to be a force out of the AL Central that will command respect.  The Jimenez contract is ideal for a team in the Indians financial situation.  The scouting department drafted White and Pomeranz in hope they would be Ubaldo Jimenez. Mission accomplished.  The old adage is that pitching wins championships, so it’s tough to hate this trade as much as I initially did.  The front office has put this team in a position to win championships. We’re not used to that.  It took me a couple days to realize how good it is.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Horror Movie-A-Day-A-Thon-Apalooza-Fest: 10/27

Feature Presentation: Zombieland (2009)

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Rating: 8 out of 10

I didn't expect what I was about to see with this one. A zombie comedy 5 years after the the benchmark for this little sub-genre, Shaun of the Dead, doesn't have a chance of surpassing that great film. And it doesn't. This is a different monster altogether, just out to whip some ass and show the audience a great time. It succeeds on both fronts.

Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), the awkward college student with a list of rules for surviving in the current state of the planet, Zombieland, teams up with the Twinkee obsessed Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) to try to survive. Along the way they meet a couple of con-sisters, Witchita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who repeatedly outsmart the guys before eventually joining forces with them. The girls are on their way to an amusement park in California, and the guys, by survival instinct or hormonal urge, stick with them.

Less a zombie horror movie and more of an action/comedy with zombies, the film is beyond funny. It's friggin' hysterical. The scenes with the uptight Columbus and the ass-whipping Tallahassee are highly exceptional. Harrelson's portrayel of the ultimate zombie killer is something right out of a comic book, complete with one-liners and hero shots galore. He spends most of the film uttering machismo-laced cracks at Columbus, swinging baseball bats and hedge-clippers at zombies, spraying bullets from an uzi, or destroying cars and stores just to blow off some steam. The only time the movie slows down is when they try to connect Columbus and Witchita romantically, and even that isn't too bad. Thry still manage to throw some funny lines in, but it's definitely a drop-off from the tone of the rest of the film.

Jesse Eisenberg does a great Michael Cera acting job here, but I would say he even outdoes Cera. He's more believable during the romantic scenes, using the awkwardness to actually be quite charming instead of just pathetic. He has the majority of the heavy lifting in terms of acting and narrating the film, which he does very well. The girls garner a few cracks too, but they spend most of the time being smarter than the guys or picking on them. They're strong chicks, for sure.

I think this would be a great party film, like Evil Dead II. A bunch of less-than-sober people looking for a good time would eat this movie up. The enjoyment factor is through the roof.

Next: The Halloween Tree

Horror Movie-A-Day-A-Thon-Apalooza-Fest: 10/26

The Movie: Evil Dead II (1987)

Director: Sam Raimi

Rating: 10 out of 10

I will guarantee one thing: gather up some friends, mix up a few cocktails, suspend your disbelief, and this will be the most fun you will EVER have watching a horror movie. This film is so amazingly insane you have no choice but to enjoy the hell out of it. It has gore, humor, more gore, and more humor. The pacing is so frantic and kinetic you won't have a moment to pause, it doesn't allow you to breathe.

For anyone who's seen the first Evil Dead you know the idea of the flick, as essentially this is a loose remake of that one. The first one was a low-budget, fairly ingenious horror-gore-fest shot by newcomer Sam Raimi. Well, the cult success of that begat a bigger budget for this. It uses many of the same concepts and techniques from the first one, but it adds a heavy dose of dark humor to lighten it up this time. Plus, the charismatic version of "Ash" we've come to expect from Bruce Campbell was born here. In the first one he's a scared, timid college kid who has no clue how to handle the crisis before him. When his girlfriend becomes a deadite in the original, he can't bring himself to chop her up to make sure she's dead, which he pays for later. Not so in this version. A chainsaw to her severed head pretty much seals the deal, without a shred of remorse.

Here's the deal: Ash and his girlfriend are heading to an old abandoned cabin in the mountains for the weekend. Once they get there, they are introduced to the evil living in the woods around the cabin pretty quickly. Within the first 10 minutes his girlfriend is dead and he's become a deadite. It's that fast, people. There's no story really other than that. We get to spend the remaining 1 hour 20 minutes enjoying the insanity that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell cooked up, and they do not disappoint. I got a special kick out of the mounted deer head coming to life and cackling hysterically at Ash. That's the kind of insanity I'm talking about. It's like the evil is just fucking with him and tormenting him, and he just rolls with the punches.

There's nothing to describe really. I can't tell you how awesome it is, it really is an experience you just have to have for yourself. If you're open-minded, you're going to have an absolute blast with this.

Next: Zombieland