May 30, 2012

Top 5 Fan Bases I Love to Hate

In honor of the Eastern Conference Finals, in which two of my most despised teams are currently battling for a trip to the NBA Finals, I began to wrestle with the argument of which fan base is worse: the Miami Heat's or the Boston Celtic's.I tweeted this and got the expected, "What's-a-Miami-Heat-fan" jokes, but I still think it's an interesting debate. Rather than just debate between these two, however, I'm going to do a countdown of my 5 most annoying fan bases in sports--professional or college. Naturally, being from Cleveland and living in Ohio my entire life my rankings are going to be pretty biased due to geography, but it's my list so if you don't like it too goddamn bad.

5. Miami Fans (Dolphins, Heat, Marlins)

I'll say this about Miami fans, you don't often hear them refuting the fact that they're fair-weather. Sure, they never show up until the game is halfway over. Sure they probably have no fucking idea who is on their team or what sporting event their even attending, but they won't deny it. Even Sir Charles says that Miami has the worst fans in professional sports. Sure, the Heat are #5 in the NBA in attendance, but it helps having two mega-stars and one Bostrich roaming the court every night. I would argue it's a disappointment they aren't one or two. The Dolphins, on the other hand, boast the league's 31st spot in attendance (for the record, I went by "home percentage," which I'm assuming is the percentage of seats filled throughout a given season). And then there are the Marlins, who have a beautiful brand-new stadium, sit only 1.5 games back of the NL East with a 28-22 record and still rank only in the middle of the MLB attendance ratings.

No one is going to refute that Miami fans are horrendous, but they sit at number 5 for that very reason--even they don't deny it.
Oops, sorry. It's 1-9 now. OSU beat Ryan Mallett in '10!

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (Football, Basketball, Womens Tennis, Soccer, Fencing, Etc.)

I'm not an Ohio State hater. I'm really not. I give credit where credit is due. If Ohio State blows, I'll say they blow. If they are a good fucking team, I'll say they are a good fucking team. Sure, I give my Buckeye friends a little shit just to rile them up, but who doesn't give their friends a hard time just for the sake of giving them a hard time? My contempt for Ohio St. fans stems back from this. Young high school Buck used to be a casual Ohio St. fan. I'll be the first to admit I wasn't the greatest, most involved or passionate Buckeye fan growing up. I was a Browns kid. I'm still a Browns kid. I'll always be a Browns kid. When going to college, I had a lot of high school friends come out of the woodwork and declared themselves Ohio St. super-fans. The type of fans who [pretend to] know everything about everything Ohio St. related. Ohio St. "fans" who I'd known for years who literally told me, "I've always liked Ohio St. women's soccer!" Honest to God. Look, I don't have a problem with 'adopting' a team, especially a collegiate one once you establish a legitimate connection with the school. But don't pull the I'm-not-going-to-talk-to-you-for-months-because-you-made-a-joke-about-that-Penn-State-loss card. That shit's weak and stupid as fuck. Obviously not all Ohio St. fans are like this, but I know way too many that are to let it slide as some sort of anomaly.

PS: Buckeye/Wolverine fans that think you own the biggest rivalry in college football, go down to Alabama and tell that to Auburn/Bama fans and wait till they pull a shotgun out of their '84 Ford pickup and shoot you in the dick.
Whoa! Sellout!

3. Bengals Fans

I went to Miami University for about a year and a half. For those of you that don't know, Oxford is only about 45 minutes or an hour to Cincy. That being said, I was surrounded by Bengals fans. Every where. Well, if you want to call them Bengals fans. Or you could just call them people walking around in Bengals jerseys. That's the thing about Bengals fans, they don't understand that knowing Carson Palmer throws the football doesn't make them a good fan. And hey, Bengals fans! Carson Palmer doesn't throw the football anymore. I went to multiple Browns/Bengals games with fellow blogger JP during my time at Miami, and every time we sat about 6 or 7 rows back of the end zone, directly behind the goal post. If we were in Browns Stadium, we would have been in the Dawg Pound. Needless to say we were expecting (dare I say hoping?) to get heckled by throwing ourselves right into "The Jungle." Jesus, were we underwhelmed. Probably 1/3 of the people sitting around us were Browns fans, and I'm not exaggerating when I say I felt like I was at a high school football game back home in Cleveland. That was the atmosphere of the game. No cheering, to emotion, pretty much nothing. Look, I'm not saying you need to know every player on the roster/practice squad like I do to be a good fan, nor am I saying you need to be jumping up and down and screaming and shit all game. But don't pretend. Don't walk around in your '04 TJ Houshmandzadeh jersey and pretend you're a goddamn mega-fan. Fuck you, Bengals. You'll always be Paul Brown's bastard child to us in Cleveland.

2. The Yankee-Cowboys-Lakers etc. Band-wagoners

Is there anything worse than the typical, "I started rooting for them when I was little and they were good" argument? You know, the argument like the douche bag above follows. It pretty much says, I'm too weak to  stick up for my hometown team if they weren't good when I was growing up. Obviously not all people are privy to this. Some people may not have had a hometown team or stuff like that. But the frustrating thing is when fans that do say "fuck you" to their home town and go hop on the who's-good-now bandwagon. That's part of the thrill--and agony--of sports: suffering through growing-pains, endless rebuilding periods, and torturous defeats with your fellow fans. As far as I'm concerned, those who skip those steps lose out on the true meaning of sports and should be embarrassed to call themselves fans.

1. Boston Fans (All of them)

Ahhh yes, the Kingpin of sports shitbags. Baahhston fans. Whether it be griping about how the city is cursed,  blaming every Celtic loss on David Stern rigging the NBA playoffs, or treating Bill Belichick as God himself, Boston fans are by far the most obnoxious and ass hole fans in all of sports. First thing's first. The Sox. Fucking Red Sox. The classic example of the Yankees-are-only-good-because-of-their-massive-payroll argument, except, the Red Sox just turn around and do the same thing. There is not much that's more refreshing in sports than to see the Red Sox bringing up the rear in the AL East, as they are now.

And the damn Celtics. I once had a friend originally from New England who was a big Pats fan during their (now oh-so-distant Super Bowl wins). We used to ask him about the C's and he'd just turn and say, "dude I don't give a shit about basketball." Typical Boston fan. 'I don't give a shit unless the team is doing awesome.' Lo-and-behold, the Big Three come of Boston and my friend, (we'll call him Maggie) turns into a big Celtics fan. One night we're watching the Celtics-Cavs series and say, "Maggie, when did you turn into a big Celtics fan? You hate basketball." and he responded by telling us that we're crazy, he's always been a big Celtics fan. Again, typical. And while we're at it, is is just me, or is every Celtic playoff win a fairly officiated game and every loss blamed on inept officiating or, like I said earlier, Heir Stern rigging the playoffs. Get over it, Boston, the refs don't make Ray Allen shoot 1-7.

Finally, the Pats. Ohhh the Patriots. Led by Jesus Christ Belichick himself. The Greatest of All Time. Unless you look at his 51-62 record without Tom Brady. The defensive mastermind. Unless you consider the fact that he's had a top-10 defense 5 times in 26 years of being a head coach. Sure, talk about Tom Brady. The dude is good. He's even great. But go ahead and keep knocking down Peyton Manning like he's not the greatest QB of his generation. Go ahead and knock Eli Manning. He'll just knock you out of the building when you meet in the Super Bowl. If there is a more blind following of an individual (Belichick) and team (Pats), I'd love to see it.

PS, New England: This is your most well known fan that represents you when people think of Boston sports:

Should Pure Rage Calm It Down? Hell No

A closer has one of the most thankless jobs in professional sports.  He is counted on to come into high pressure situations in close games and to shut the door.  There is no love for a closer that cannot do his job.  You won’t be the closer long if you don’t get 25, 26, and 27.  There is always another young flame thrower or two just biting at the chance to be the ninth inning man.  You need the “closer’s mentality,” the innate ability to look at the heart of the other team’s lineup and say, “here I am, come and get me.”

The Indians have Chris “Pure Rage” Perez in the back of the bullpen to slam that door shut.  Perez has long crazy hair, a beard, and a fiery attitude on the mound that seems to get under the skin of just about every team he faces, most recently the Royals.  After striking out Royals Jarrod Dyson, Perez pulled out a WWE John Cena move by waving his hand in front of his face to say “U Can’t C Me.” Perez claims that this motion was done to his teammates and that he has also been doing it as far back as college.  After covering first for the last out on grounder to Kotchman, Perez did a celebratory spiking motion that almost had him on his behind.  This isn’t the first time that Perez has been making waves this season.  He called out the fans for not coming to the ballpark and watching their first place team.  .  Are these antics too much or should Perez be able to act like himself after leading the AL with 17 saves? 

It is much harder to get someone excited for something than it is to calm them down.  This goes back to the closer’s mentality.  If Perez is making hitters think about something other than the pitch count, the moment in the game, or whether he’s going to throw a piping fastball on the corner of the plate, good.  Any distraction that these batters are going to have to face while they aren’t paying attention to their at bat is a good thing.  Perez is clearly intimidating and rustling other people’s feathers, but the key is that he is still being effective.  After Opening Day people were concerned about Perez but he has been nothing short of brilliant since then.  Perez, keep talking, keep fist pumping, and keep closing games, because as long as that continues , I am all for the Pure Rage.  



May 23, 2012

Awesome Indians Promotional Ideas

Don’t get me wrong, I'm as sick of these Chris Perez comments as the next person. But the fact is, the Indians are in first place and we need to get to the stadium to support them.  I’m not talking about a Tuesday night game or a Wednesday afternoon game, but the majority of our home games should be packed. As I wrote about this time last year, there are plenty of reasons why we should go to a Tribe game. There is also a big new reason why you should head downtown for an Indians game. A fucking Casino! Cleveland finally has something to offer, so might as well make a night of it and win back your ticket costs.
While I'm at it, I've brainstormed a couple really-freaking-cool-never-going-to-happen promotions that would all but guarantee a sellout.
Really-Freaking-Cool-Never-Going-To-Happen-Promotion #1:
A casino-beer promotion is a great idea!
For every beer that is sold, give a $1 chip in return to the Horseshoe Casino. I'm sure the Horseshoe Casino would be all for the promotion and the Indians could easily afford to cut $1 off their $12 beers. I could only assume beer sales would triple. This can’t end badly can it? Okay, okay, so our streets might be filled with drunken idiots going to blow their life savings. But you get the picture. Have some sort of promotion with the casino. There is no reason the Indians shouldn’t jump on that opportunity to gets fans to the stadium. 
Really-Freaking-Cool-Never-Going-To-Happen-Promotion #2:
Get a contract with Fresh Brewed Tees and give away some damn shirts! We all know that Fresh Brewed Tees has badass Cleveland shirts and I'm sure they’ll be all for the extra business. I’m sick of the normal franchise t-shirt give-a-way days. They all suck. The shirts are always XL, made by some 7 year-old in China, and have about 10 K-Mart logos plastered all over it. I remember always wearing my Albert Belle shirt that came down to my feet and was proudly brought to me by Giant Eagle. Enough of that shit! We demand good shirts! Fresh Brewed Tees are well made, plus they donate portions of profits to the City Mission. You can’t beat that. Sure this may cost the Tribe a bit more to pull off, but I'm sure a sellout would make them money. Plus, how badass would it be to have 43,000 Cleveland Swag shirts?
In reality, none of those will happen. But as a Clevelander, we need to continue this grass roots campaign to get fans there. The support on Facebook and Twitter is great. But you can't just tweet “Go Tribe”. You actually have to go. The worst thing we can do is stoop to the level of Bengals fans. We’re better than that. Cleveland is popping this time of year. We actually have stuff to do there. Did I mention we have a casino?
I know many fans hate the Dolan’s and want to boycott the Indians. As much as I hate the ownership, that won't help anything. The only thing we can hope for is Dan Gilbert buys the Indians with all his dirty casino money. A man can dream right?

May 21, 2012

Tom Heckert Says Phil Taylor is to be Back by October/November

So a lot of people have been talking about Tom Heckert saying tonight that Phil Taylor will "100%" be back this season, most likely by the end of October. The issue isn't 'can/will Phil Taylor make an impact after coming back,' because if he continues to develop like he did last year, that should have an obvious answer. The real question also isn't 'who's going to replace Phil Taylor.' With the drafting of two defensive tackles and already having Brian Schaefering and Scott Paxon on the squad, it should be clear that a committee of DTs will rotate in and out, just like the plan was before Taylor got hurt.

The real question in my mind is, 'how does the Browns run defense hold up through the first half of the season without Taylor?' Let's say Taylor misses the entire month of October. Here's the Browns' schedule up to that point and their opponents respective ranks rushing next to them.

WEEK 1: Philly #3
WEEK 2: Bengals #26
WEEK 3: Buffalo #8
WEEK 4: Ravens #9
WEEK 5: Giants #20
WEEK 6: Bengals #26
WEEK 7: Colts #23
WEEK 8: Chargers #12

Looking at that lineup, the only concerning games that jump off at me are Week 1 against Philly, who have one of the most electric backs in the NFL, and Week 4 against Baltimore, where Ray Rice seems to always carve up our defense. Obviously don't sleep on Buffalo, but I'm just not the biggest Ryan Fitzpatrick believer and if he beats us then so be it, but we should 100% focus on shutting down Fred Jackson there. Sure, the Bengals got the Law Firm in BGE, but I think he was more of a product of the wide-open New England system than a full time back.

In all, I don't think it will be easy and our rushing defense is undoubtedly going to go through rough spells, especially if the rookies get significant playing time, but it's not a dire situation. If Phil comes back strong in Week 9 or even after the bye for Week 11 (at the latest), the Browns should be able to make some noise defensively. Remember, our run D was atrocious last year but we also had two rookies, a young pro playing his first season in the 4-3 and the fucking invisible man playing right-end.

All's not lost Browns fans. Either way, it's Cleveland, we might as well be optimistic now cause God knows once the season starts it'll all go out the window.

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Chris Perez and "Pure Rage"

Everybody saw Chris Perez's quotes from this weekend about Tribe fans, the city, and the ownership. I'll be the first to say I'm not an enormous baseball fan, and while I agree with some of what Perez said, I have to say it kind of pissed me off to hear it from him. Yes, more fans should be at these games. As you may recall we called for more fans to get down to games last Spring when the Tribe was hot. Sure, Perez has been great this season and didn't deserve the boos thrown his way. But as paying fans, we can boo whoever the fuck we want.

 I'm sure many people agree with Perez, as I do, that this team deserves more support from the fans in the form of asses in the seats. However, there's a way to go about that kind of stuff. It's called playing fucking ball. Just play. As Terrance Mann once told us, 'people will come.'

The biggest thing that upset me in this whole ordeal was Perez's blaming the fans for personnel moves. People in Cleveland don't give a fuck for people like Perez calling them out and implying that free agents stay away from Cleveland because of our fan base. Honestly, has there been a more offensive or ridiculous argument aimed at fans in recent memory? Perez talked about how Carlos Beltran turned down an offer from the Tribe ($24 million for 2 years) to play for the World Series Champion Cardinals ($26 millions for 2 years) because of the fans. Wait, because of the fans? Really Chris Perez? Not because of the financials or because the Cards just won the fucking World Series? Sure, we here in Cleveland know it's not the most desirable place to play. But look at Detroit. They get players. And why? Because of the money. So Chris Perez, if you're going to go on record and whine about being booed when you're a professional athlete and then point a finger at me and my fellow Tribe fans as the reasons why players like Beltran didn't sign with Cleveland, you can get the fuck out of my city.

May 14, 2012

Rate This Indians Fever Video

So I hopped on Twitter today and was tweeted by @RockmanHalo who sent me this gem of a video for Indians Fever. I wanted to give it at least a 8.5 or 9 out of 10, but I figured I'd blog it and see what everyone else thinks. Leave a comment below, since as of right now I don't know how the hell to embed a poll into a blog post.

May 6, 2012

Rewind: Grading the Browns 2007 Draft

With all this post-draft analysis bullshit, I'm going to pass on "grading" the Browns draft picks. Yeah, I'm being hypocritical as hell since I graded the Browns' first round selections after round one. Too bad. I will try to write up a little bit on each of the players the Browns selected hopefully this week, but I'll refrain on grading a bunch of players who have never played in the No Fun League before from here on out.

With that in mind, something I feel like I can look back to and "grade" is the Browns 2007 draft, seeing as it has been 5 years since then. Flashback to 2007 for a second. I was a Junior in high school, I had my whole life ahead of me. Boatloads of potential, just like the Browns '07 draft class. Umbrella and Buy U a Drank were fucking fire songs. Superbad was the shit to kids my age. Seth Rogan was funny. Joseph Addai not only looked like he deserved to be on an NFL roster, but he actually looked like he might be good. No, I'm not making this stuff up.

Now jump ahead to today. I'm a degenerate college alcoholic. Brady Quinn and pretty much all of the Browns draft picks are going to see about as much playing time as you and I will this upcoming season. If you listen to fucking T-Pain you're a douche bag. Superbad is old news, and watching it just makes me feel even older. Seth Rogan is anything but funny. Joe Addai will be lucky to beat out the trifecta of Vereen, Ridley, and Danny Woodhead in New England's backfield.

Now let's go pick-by-pick for the Browns and their heralded (at least at the time) 2007 draft class.

#3 Overall: Joe Thomas, OT Wisconsin 

Thomas was called one of the best left-tackle prospects to come out in some time, and he immediately lived up to the hype. More than that, he instantly became a fan-favorite for his skipping out on attending the draft in favor of going fishing with his dad on Lake Michigan. It's impossible to argue with anything about this pick, as Thomas is widely considered one of, if not the top left tackle in the game today.


#22 Overall: Brady Quinn, QB Notre Dame

Quinn was in the running for the #3 overall pick, but thank God Phil Savage pulled the trigger on Joe T instead. With this pick, Savage traded his 2007 second rounder and 2008 first rounder for the highly regarded Golden Domer. At the time it looked like a franchise-changing trade/pick. After limited action in his rookie campaign and a promising few games in 2008, Quinn was given the reigns in 2009. He responded with a dismal season. I remember watching Quinn and seeing a QB who was frantic in the pocket--with or without pressure, and one that seemed to check down on about 60% of his drop-backs. Quinn was then traded for Peyton Hillis, so at least he wasn't a complete waste of a pick. This pick would have been a lot easier to swallow if we didn't get rid of that 2008 first rounder. In essence, this pick doomed the following year's draft as well.


#53 Overall: Eric Wright, CB UNLV

Eric Wright was touted as having top talent, but fell because of character issues that led to his transfer from USC to UNLV. In my opinion, Wright was very solid at the corner position from 2007-2009. He took a major step back in 2010, however. Most Browns fans will remember his nightmare season mostly from his disastrous performance against Baltimore's Anquan Boldin. He left as a free agent in 2011 and headed to the Detroit Lions. Wright's cover skills have been mostly solid throughout his career, but his tackling and willingness to be physical when it came to the running game and more physical receivers hurt his game. Still, he wasn't a bad value as a mid-late second round selection.


#140 Overall: Brandon McDonald, CB Memphis

McDonald was not a bad fifth-round selection out of Conference USA Memphis. He showed flashes of potential as a nickle back in his first two seasons. In 2009, however, McDonald struggled and was eventually replaced by Mike Adams. As a fifth-round pick, McDonald was expected to hopefully contribute on special teams, but he was able to exceed those expectations for two seasons. He also enjoyed doing the Soulja Boy in pre-game warmups.


#200 Overall: Melila Purcell, DL Hawaii

Purcell spent his career on the practice squad for the Browns, with the exception of the 2007 season finale against San Francisco. Sure, he was a sixth-round pick, but ideally you want your draft picks to at least make the active roster. Purcell is currently a free agent.


#213 Overall: Chase Pittman, DL LSU

Pittman is another career practice squad player, except he only lasted one season in the NFL.


#234 Overall: Syndric Steptoe, WR Arizona

Steptoe was a tiny wideout (5'9" 170) out of Arizona, but also specialized in kick returns. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad, but was activated in 2008 as a kick returner behind Josh Cribbs. He was subsequently waived after suffering a knee injury in 2009 training camp and, according to Wikipedia, is currently a member of the Edmonton Eskimos. Even with limited playing time, it's nice to see a seventh-rounder not only make the team but also contribute, even if it was in limited playing time.


Overall, Phil Savage had a few worth-while picks, notably Eazy-E and Brandon McDonald. And, of course, the drafting of a consistent All-Pro tackle is an incredible addition to any franchise. However, the trading up for Brady Quinn and his subsequent failure took the Browns back in an enormous way. Thomas is without a doubt the best Browns pick since they returned in 1999, and one of the best Browns draft picks ever. Still, he can't entirely save this draft class. Like I said earlier, I like the value of Wright and McDonald, but they didn't stick around long enough to make a significant long-term impact. Thomas is the one pick that keeps this draft afloat.


Cleveland Sports: Where Do We Go From Here?

Here we are on May 6th, smack dab in the middle of one of the more interesting times for the three professional sports teams that inhabit Cleveland.  The Indians just took two out of three against arguably the best team in baseball and they sit at 15-11 and in first place.  The Browns just drafted what hopefully will be their starting running back and quarterback in Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden.  Whether or not you agree with the picks, they are moving towards an identity.  The Cavs mercifully finished another season of bottom dwelling, but unlike last year, flashes from possible franchise players in Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson have me looking forward to another high draft pick assimilating with these two.

First off, the Tribe, you know, the first place team that we have that is currently playing AND winning?  Ubaldo Jimenez turned in what was possibly his best start for the Wahoos and Vinne Pestano and Christ Perez saved me from driving to The Prog and slapping Tony Sipp.  Jason Kipnis is quickly posturing himself as a fan favorite in Cleveland, a position that he will adorn beautifully.  Chicks dig the long ball and he has shown the propensity to knock pitches to souvenir city ever since he has been in the major leagues.  If the pitching can keep it up, then the Tribe has a real shot at making this a special summer.

The Browns draft has gotten criticism but before you jump off the 4-80 bridge (or try to blow it up, you damn anarchists) remember that this organization and front office is consistent.  They will not reach or panic or draft a player just because they need someone at the position.  They will hold true to their board.  They will take who they feel is necessary at the right spot.  If Weeden was the 13th player on their board, then getting him at 22 is perfect.  If Tampa Bay was going to trade to 3 if we didn't, we made the correct move.  We have freaking Trent Richardson.  Do you remember him on the National Championship team? Straight beast.  Hughes is a defensive tackle.  We have two good ones, but how does three good ones sound on a team that can't stop the run? Good to me.  Linebacker depth also was addressed (Come on Goodell, why didn't you do me a favor and REALLY drop the hammer on Fujita? Jk, maybe) and between James Michael Johnson and Emanuel Acho I think we have a starting weak side linebacker.  Miavia will probably get the first shot though.  Point is, the Browns are establishing an identity and they will stick to it.  We will run the football and stop the run.  If Trent gets going Weeden will flick it on play action, that simple.  YouTube Travis Benjamin while you're at it.

The Cavaliers have 4 draft picks coming up.  Let's say they leave Radio City with three players.  One is going to be a top six pick and let me speculate how that could go worst case scenario.  Anthony Davis goes #1, MKG goes 2, Beal goes 3, and some collection of Barnes/PJ3/Drummond/Robinson go thereafter.  Are you not happy with one of those guys? Maybe you have worries about Perry Jones III, but I personally think his lack of a distributing point guard and defined role on the team made things tough on the talented perimeter player.  This team is one good draft away from being in the playoffs again.  Let's speculate again, shall we?  Kyrie, Beal, Gee, Varejao, Asik with TT and our other first round pick, Boobie, Samardo, Sloan and a MLE wing player coming off of the bench.  That sure sounds better.

Call me an optimist, that's fine, but I am confident that 2012 will be better than 2011.  It probably couldn't get a whole lot worst.  We have our franchise QB.  We have our franchise PG.  We are first in the AL Central.  Let's cross our fingers, crack a beer, and watch the three teams that we love.  May name is Luke and this is my first post for Cleveland's Rocks.  I love feedback and conversation.  You can find me @LakeEffectBro but I warn you, I'm rather pg-13.  Hit me up or just say hi.  You'll be seeing more of me.