Sunday, April 06, 2008

Where have I been?

Here and there. Mostly there.

I returned to Cleveland yesterday after spending nine days either in the UK or travelling to and from. Along the way, I spent time in London and Edinburgh, Scotland, and negotiated three of the world's biggest and busiest airports in London Heathrow, John F. Kennedy in New York and Chicago O'Hare.

I'm exhausted, I'm jet-lagged and I've been out of touch with Cleveland sports for more than a week. I wanted to see the Indians' opener, but bars that feature baseball, let alone an Indians game, are rare in London.

But I've been reading what I can online, so here are some brief hits on some sports topics:


From 2-0 to 2-3. Is it time to push the panic button? No, but it's becoming apparent that the Tribe's offense is going to make or break the season. And when Victor Martinez can't play, as he hasn't due to a hamstring strain suffered on opening day, this offense just isn't going to make the cut most games.

As we know, the Indians' offense is dependent on steady production from several big bats. They can't mash one through nine like the Tigers or Yankees. If one of the Tribe's big boppers is out or mired in a long slump, it really hurts the offense. And Martinez's steady, clutch, switch-hitting presence just might be the most important component of the Tribe's lineup. Once Martinez returns, the offense with probably get its act together. Until then, we might be in for some pretty boring games.

I will be very interested in C.C. Sabathia's next outing. The star pitcher who is next in line to pig out at the money trough, C.C. has looked spectacularly lukewarm in his first two '08 outings. He needed a huge hit from Casey Blake to bail him out on opening day, and he struggled Saturday in Oakland, as he typically does for whatever reason. But so far, C.C. doesn't look like the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and future holder of a $120 million-plus contract.

An overweight, slow-starting, playoff-crumbling, muscle-strain-prone pitcher with one great season to his credit. You sure you want to break the bank on this guy, Yankees? Just something to chew on.


I'm to the point where I'm about to put up the good ol' emotional defense mechanism with this team so I don't get disappointed when the Wizards finally get the best of them in the first round later this month.

The Cavs are staggering to the finish line, losers of five of their last seven, hampered by a rash of back spasms that has affected even LeBron James. Once one of the best fourth quarter teams in the league, the Cavs are now one of the worst. Dismal second halves doomed them against the lowly Bulls and high-flying Magic, which has taken the Cavs' place as the team most likely to break the Detroit-Boston death grip on the Eastern Conference.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: This is a transitional year. By tearing down the roster and rebuilding at the trade deadline, Danny Ferry made a statement that the old roster wasn't going to win a title, even though the old roster probably could have gotten back to the NBA Finals simply because, as Ben Cox put it on his blog, they were a flawed machine, but a well-oiled flawed machine.

Right now, the Cavs are experiencing the unfamiliarity and disarray that a rearranged team should ideally overcome in November and December. But the trade happened in February and injuries have been an ongoing theme since then, prolonging the problems.

Maybe next season, after having gone through a postseason, offseason and preseason together, the story will be different. It should be, especially if Ferry can add another major piece this summer. But for now, this team is playoff dog meat. They're beaten down and LeBron is running out of gas from another season of having to do virtually all of the heavy lifting with little help.

Maybe the Cavs can get their act together in time to squeak by Washington in the first round one more time. But it's no guarantee, and it won't be pretty if they do. And their reward for making it to the second round will be a beatdown at the hands of the Celtics.

Final Four

When my champion selection North Carolina went down on Saturday, my brackets were officially trashed. I'm actually looking forward to the Kansas-Memphis final, if only because everyone said Memphis couldn't make it this far. I also didn't hear a lot of votes of confidence in the Jayhawks, though they had to knock off spunky Davidson to get to San Antonio.

I'm rooting for Memphis because they've been to the doorstep of the Final Four the past two years only to get turned back. Now they're here, and everyone was so hung up on their inability to shoot free throws, they didn't give them a realistic chance to win it all.

The Tigers are a powerful team, and with North Carolina sent packing, they are the strongest squad left in the tournament. They've earned their battle stripes, and I think it would be very appropriate if Memphis is the team cutting down the nets on Monday night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As I've said elsewhere with a real coach this trade would have really made us strong. But, when you bring a new group of guys into a situation without a coach with a clue it ends up in failure. Next year will be no better. Clown will never lead this team to a championship. Sadly for Clevelanders LeBron will many, but not as a Cav.