Tuesday, November 10

Downtown Report

Let's start with the good news for Ohio/Cleveland sports fans first, shall we? That OSU win over Penn State was tremendous. Nick summed it up best for me when he txted, "I almost forgot what it was like to win a big game." That was a big one, no doubt, and Near-headless Nick and I will be in Ohio Stadium this Saturday to watch OSU clinch the Big Ten Championship and a trip to their first Rose Bowl since 1997. Playing their best football of the season, the Bucks look poised to trounce an Iowa Hawkeye club coming off a bad home loss to Northwestern and injury to quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

Lest you think I'm looking past michigan when I suggest this is for the Big 10 title, let me point out that even if OSU beats Iowa then somehow loses to Michigan, they'll still win out by virtue of holding tiebreakers over the conference's other two-loss schools (Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin). Let me also point out that I'm totally looking past michigan because the Buckeyes are absolutely going to crush them. Just like last year, none of this "throw out the records" or "rivalry game" nonsense, just another beatdown courtesy of the Scarlet and Gray. But first: Iowa.

I loved the Buckeye fans in Beaver Stadium co-opting Penn State's "Seven Nation Army" chant at the end of their 24-7 victory in Happy Valley. Serves them right after all those moronic "We Are Penn State" cheers. I'm generally down with Penn State, and wish them success when they don't oppose Ohio State, but that cheer is so incredibly stupid.

Jim Tressel simply needs to stop punting from the other team's 35. I like Tressel a lot - great coach, great recruiter - but his in-game decisions are not the kind that win football games. Consider when OSU led 10-7 and faced a 3rd and 2 at the Penn State 38. Sneak Pryor, twice if necessary, and get a first down. How hard is this? I'm as anti-punt as Tressel is pro-punt; I really think if he used better 4th-down strategy, OSU would be even stronger and would very possibly have beaten UCS. But other than that, I think JT is doing an excellent job with the program.

That game was...well, it was not well-officiated. I'm a notorious referee apologist, but not on Saturday. Homan's late hit, in particular, was an absolutely embarrassing call. Clark slid so late that there was no way to hold up, though Homan tried. You can't make defenders afraid to tackle people. Ugh.

I commented to Figgs and Nick that the best part of the Buckeye win was that the Browns wouldn't be able to erase my good feelings from the game by losing 35-3 on Sunday. I just got to ride the Buckeye high for the rest of the weekend. Now that I think about it, I'll get to do so post-Iowa as well, since the Browns have a Monday nighter against Baltimore.

A Monday nighter that may well be blacked out locally, as roughly 3000 tickets remain. That's pathetic. Nothing could say more about how lousy this franchise has become than a blackout, considering how rabid our fan base is. I think the Browns will buy them up to avoid a blackout, but will they be able to do this all season? Awful. Incidentally, the NFL's blackout rule is one of the stupidest things I have ever seen in my life. So, your logic is that the way to boost fan interest is to restrict fans from watching the team? It's especially ridiculous considering how much of the league's revenue comes from TV. I mean, has anyone in the history of sports bought a ticket after seeing that a game would be blacked out? No. They just get pissed off at the stupid rule and stop caring about the NFL and their team. I really can't express in words how dumb this is.

Speaking of dumb, "Coach" Mangini has elected to once again keep secret the identity of the Browns' starting quarterback until Wednesday. What a loser. What is the point of this? For those who suspect that Quinn was being held out to avoid paying contract escalators that kick in if he takes 70% of the team's snaps, it's worth pointing out that if he takes every snap through the end of the year starting Monday, and the Browns run the same number of plays per quarter as they have so far (and that Quinn and Anderson took snaps at the same per-quarter rate so far), Quinn will take 65% of the team's snaps. So it can't be that anymore.

The Cavs are a pedestrian 4-3 so far, but that's not a concern for me. They're playing good defense, and I expect that the offense will play at a higher level once the new fellows (Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, and Shaquille O'Neal) get integrated better. I see the Cavs winning 57 ths year, claiming about a three-seed, and making a run to the East Finals. Beyond that, I'm not so sure.

I've been out of town quite a bit and haven't seen much Cavs action, except for the Washington game. They really flipped a switch in the second half there and gave a taste of the sort of powerhouse they can be when motivated and clicking. I hope to see more of that club going forward. I'll try to provide more Cavs analysis as the season goes on.

Also: we have a baseball team in town called the Cleveland Indians.

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