In my head I had this whole opening planned out. It was going to be about Green Bay, and the Browns, and the Cavs and Indians, and hope, and all that stuff. In my head it was glorious and funny. Joe Posnanski (Hey look Joe, I even used Pozterisks!) would read it and drop me an email telling me he liked it. My friends would hear about it and email me asking if I was the Mike Kramer that wrote that wonderful article on The Cleveland Fan. Bill Simmons would call and ask me to make an appearance on his podcast. I would turn it down because I've never seen The Real World or Jersey shore so we wouldn't have anything to talk about. Craig Calceterra would invite me to join his next fantasy "Rob Neyer Baseball" league. My wife would stop considering me a failure. It would be fantastic.
But here we are, post game, and the Packers have won. And this is great news. But it doesn't make Cleveland any better.
It is too late and I have drank (drinked? Drunken?) too much Conways Irish Ale.
An Awkward Glance Ahead At The Browns
The Browns finally have their coaching staff pretty much filled. There are 3 main advantages to this. First, the coaches can hopefully put together some sort of playbook to get to the players* to look over during the inevitable lockout that's coming. Colt McCoy has already talked about studying the new offense and holding player organized practices to try to get up to speed. With a total overhaul on both sides of the ball, the team needs to do what they can to learn the systems.
*Shaun Rogers is dying to get his hands on the defensive playbook. Word has it that in the event of a lockout he's going to be meeting Albert Haynesworth at the library every day to quiz each other on plays, and then go for a quick jog. Those guys are nothing if not hard workers, dedicated to their crafts.
Second, I get to stop reading stories about the coaching search or lack thereof. I don't care that they all have the same agent. And, I don't care that they all coached in Philly. Just as I wouldn't care if they all had different agents and came from backgrounds far and wide after an exhaustive search that entailed 387 total hours of taped interviews and a budget of $47,000 for those little square turkey, ham, and roast beef sandwiches that you can order from Giant Eagle for meetings, pointless corporate synergy pep rallys, or on the limo bus between the wedding and reception where everyone seems to be inexplicably hungrier than they've ever been in their entire lives.*
*Seriously, what is it about being in weddings that makes you so hungry? I've been in around 8 weddings in my life and I think they are the 8 hungriest days I've ever lived. Nobody has ever been able to explain to me why I exit the church onto the sidewalk and start immediately scanning the street for the limo because I know those sandwiches are on it. Because, if I don't see it, I start looking around for dead squirrels. The best nourishment ever provided to me post wedding ceremony? Chicken McNuggets. Hands down. Don't ask me to explain it. I can't.
Third, we can move onto really important stuff, like the combine, because we all know that there is very little in football more important than the combine. It's more important than actual football. I'm still trying to wrap my pea-sized brain around the fact that Brown's GM Tom Heckert wasted the #7 pick last year on a slow-as-molasses CB, Joe Haden. I mean the guy ran a 4.57 40 yard dash. And then Heckert passes up lightening quick safety Taylor Mays in favor of TJ Ward who had a time of 4.54 seconds, just because he saw Ward play and thinks he's a "good football player" who can "tackle" and stuff.
I don't know how anyone can expect the Brown's to put a competitive team on the field when their GM continually ignores the really important information gleaned from the combine and instead drafts "talented football players". As we suffer through a decade with Haden, who some people have called the best cornerback to come out of the draft since Darrelle Revis (completely ignoring that one time he didn't run super duper fast in his underwear in Indianapolis), and Ward anchoring the defensive backfield, we can only hope that this year Heckert will finally come to his senses and, with his stopwatch and calculator, go find the Browns the next Ashley Lelie and Mike Mamula.
The combine doesn't start until Feb 23, but with the Superbowl over, the next few weeks we will begin to hear the talk of players rising up and falling down draft boards despite the fact that they haven't played a single down of football. But, it is football, and despite how ridiculous the combine is, it's better than talking about the POS Steeler's QB, who we can only hope begins his offseason by celebrating in the bathroom of a college bar, and instead of a rendezvous with a drunk girl he finds Antonio Cromartie who mistakes Ben for Matt Hasselback and proceeds to "smash his face."
An Awkward Glance Ahead At The Cavs
I had to see it for myself. So while drinking a beer I dug through my closet and pulled out my well worn #12 Joey Graham jersey. I had another beer while waiting for my ride and four of us headed on down to the Q for what we hoped wouldn't be a historic night.
Immediately upon arrival we ordered some beers and contemplated bidding on the Beanie Wells signed OSU helmet, but then realized they actually wanted $550 minimum, not $55. (Unbelievably, when we walked by later there were still no bids.) We walked the concourse toward our seats, freshened up our beers, and took our places right behind a nice lady and her 3 kids, all of them wearing Trailblazers jerseys. This was disconcerting to say the least and I immediately poured my beer over the head of the boy in the LaMarcus Aldridge jersey. OK, not really. Do you know how much beer costs down there?
It turns out that the kids were pretty cool, you know, for Trailblazer fans. Mom promised me that she would google "guy eating beer cans at halftime" as she looked dubious when I informed her that that used to be routine around here. Little Aldridge won us over when he caught one of those rubberbanded up tee-shirts that was shot out of the giant potato gun, realized that he had no use for a Cavs shirt, and immediately walked down the isle and handed the shirt to a boy about his own age. And the two sisters, Oden and Gay, were funny although ultimately smarter than me or anyone I was with. We were unsuccessful in our attempts to persuade them to give us their ice cream, and Oden wouldn't trade jerseys with me, despite my insistence that Joey Graham was a future all-star and Greg Oden had given up basketball and was studying for the DAT in order to enroll in dental school next fall.
At halftime I paid $21 for a beer, some fries, and a McDonald's cheeseburger that Michael Symon wrote his name on. The fries were good. So was the beer. My friend came over with a burger that had fried bologna on it. Now, I understand that it's my fault for not reading the menu carefully enough. But, if you are offering a burger with fried bologna on it, shouldn't that option be presented in neon flashing lights? I'm just saying. When I tried to trade in my half eaten regular burger for the fried bologna upgrade, the workers thought I was joking. It was very frustrating.
Back at our seats, we found that the guy next to me had a huge bucket of Quaker Steak wings that smelled way better than our 20 dollar Michael Symon happy meals. The guy was eating them very strangely, though. He would pick up a wing, take a few bites, and then put it back. He did this to a lot of the wings and then came back later to finished the ones he started. Bizarre. It was like he was marking his territory or something. It reminded me of Jim Bouton saying that Yogi Berra and Elston Howard were famous for dragging Charley over the coldcuts.
This odd behavior put a real crimp in my plans to negotiate a trade between weird hot-wing guy and the ice cream girls, with 10% commission going to me for acting as arbiter. There was no way I was selling those girls on some half eaten wings. So, I did what any normal fan would do and ordered another beer.
It was about this time (the middle of the 3rd quarter) that I noticed there was a basketball game being played right in front of me. It was pretty close too. I could tell that Little Aldridge in front of me was getting nervous. I calmed him by telling him that the Cavs needed to be winning by at least 16 points at the start of the 4th quarter to have any chance of winning.*
*I could tell that he believed me too. I just seem to have an air of intelligence about me. In fact, his mom told him that I was probably the most knowledgeable sports fan she'd ever encountered, as well as the most handsome. **
**OK, that's BS. That didn't happen. That kid didn't believe me for a second. In his defense, he hasn't watched the Cavs this season. I am very handsome.
Sure enough, sometime towards the beginning of the 4th quarter I turned to deliver a hilarious anecdote to my friends. When I looked back up a minute later, the Cavs were down by 10. Just like that. Game over. They pulled a little closer by the end, but at no point did it actually feel like there was a chance to win.
And that gets us to the problem. The Cavs just refuse to play 48 minutes of basketball â€“ and that's 48 minutes total over the last 35 games combined*
*They did get the win on Dec 18th against the Knicks, but not because they were actually playing. Really. Go back and watch the tape. The knicks actually played -13 minutes that game. This means that the Cavs would have won without leaving the dressing room, which is exactly what they did. Instead of playing, the Cavs sent out a team with players from the local YMCA that lost a bet. Go back and watch. They even have fake sounding names like Samardo Samuels and Alanzo Gee.
Seriously. Check the tape and see it for yourself. Then burn the tape lest the hideousness contained therein be unleashed like the power inside the Arc of the Covenant and melt the collective face of Cleveland straight off its snow covered skull.
As far as I can tell, the Cavs have played precisely 16 minutes and 37 seconds of actual basketball since Nov 28th. Total. I know it's hard to believe but it's true. That's what I was doing last Sunday when I was supposed to be writing the Awkward Glance column for my faithful minions. I was watching Cavs tape (and eating, drinking beer, napping, and upgrading my strat-o-matic team, The Camacho's Moustache. And drinking beer.) in order to get a better sense of exactly what the hell has happened to this team this year.
I did this because it needed to be done, and because I knew I was the right man to do it, having built up up a large resistence to unspeakable horror through repeated viewing of shocking movies such as Oldboy, Audition, Irreversible, and Showgirls. I knew I was able to view Cavs game tape while the atomic makeup and cellular structure of my facial epidermis remained intact and stable.
I'm happy to say that I have indeed pinpointed the problem with the clarity of stream water born of a melting glacier in northern Nunavut and the deadly accuracy of an Olympic archer.
The problem, as I see it, and I don't know how this can be argued, is...
The Cavs really suck.
The Cavs play 4 games this week against far superior opponents. They will win none of them.
An Awkward Glance Ahead At The Indians
Pitchers and catchers report a week from Wednesday on Feb 16th. Hopefully Jeremy Bonderman will be reporting also, just not to the Indian's camp. Kevin Millwood...yeah, I'll take that guy again. Why not? Even if it comes at the expense of David Huff's innings.
I'm starting to get giddy. I'll have a lot more to say about the Tribe starting with next weeks glance.
Actor In My Movie
Vanessa Angel hasn't been in too much stuff. She very unmemorably played the stand in for Kelly LeBrock in the TV adaptation for Weird Science, a show that I have never in my life seen a single second of. The only thing more surprising than the existence of Weird Science as a TV show is the fact that it somehow made it through 5 seasons.
For the majority of you, Vanessa will be recognized that the female lead in the Farrelly Bros. tour de force Kingpin. We all know Kingpin and se all remember Claudia. She was just our type. She's every guy's type. And she was great in that movie.
But, I'll be an Applebees NY strip steak that I'm the only guy on the face of the earth who, when watching Kingpin for the first time, sat straight up in his chair as the opening credits appeared on the screen and yelled "Vanessa Angel!! No F***in' Way!"
You see, I'd been waiting for years to catch another glimpse of Vanessa Angel. You have to remember, this was before the time of IMDB where you can find out anything about anyone. And I knew who Vanessa Angel was through hard work and diligence.
I had to tape Spies Like Us, play it back, and pause it on the credits to find out the name of that glorious, large breasted Russian nuclear rocket girl who runs out of the freezing cold tent as the world is about to end and just about exploding my 12 year old head.
That's right, For the Spies Like Us connoisseurs in the audience, Vanessa Angel was the ridiculously hot "Russian Rocket Crewperson" who slept with Dan Aykroyd as the Nukes where in the air. She ran out of that tent in her underwear and into my dreams. I made it a point to find out who she was. I'm probably one of about a half dozen prepubescent boys on the face of the earth to go to such pain for such a small role. But, it was worth it. It was totally worth it.
And, Vanessa is definitely in my movie.
Youtube Clip Of The Week
This barely missed Clayman's cut, but it is a fantastic game none the less.