Monday, July 03, 2006

I Think The Sun Has Made Their Brains Go Soft

I can usually tolerate Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal quite well.  But in the last few years in particular, he seems rather irritated with it all.  It must be the travel.  Or the sun.  How else to explain his rebuke of Eric Wedge for supposedly publicly embarrassing Ben Broussard for his sins while leaving other equally guilty parties (i.e. Ronnie Belliard) alone.  According to Ocker, the mental lapses, on consecutive plays, by Broussard and Belliard in a game on June 21 were similar and thus deserved similar treatment.  Instead, Wedge seemed to make an example of Broussard by sitting him down and replacing him with Victor Martinez but hasn't done anything public with Belliard.   On some level, I see Ocker's point, but I think he's forgetting how truly mediocre Broussard has been for more than a season now.  Broussard, in a word, was awful last year.  He's been hitting better this year as a platoon batter but even Ocker notes that Broussard's m.o. is to hit a key hit and then disappear for several games.  Broussard is a better than average fielder, but the Indians need far more than that out of their first baseman.  Broussard has clearly demonstrated that he is not a core player worth investing in for the long haul so Wedge should hardly be faulted for however he chooses to handle him.  As for Belliard he remains an enigma.  Last year he was a pleasant surprise with both the bat and the glove.  He isn't hitting as well this year but his defense, in the context of this year's team anyway, has been relatively solid.  I think the jury is still out, in this free agent year, whether it is wise to commit long-term money to Belliard, especially given the implications this could have on Shapiro's flexibility next year given the skinflint ways of the Dolans.  In that context, not singling out Belliard at this juncture seems, on par, the right move for Wedge.  I'm not sure why a seasoned guy like Ocker can't see that.   But while we can give Ocker the benefit of the doubt, there is no excuse for Bill Livingston at the PD.  In his recent column, he graciously gives the Dolans an incredible pass, using facts selectively to, I guess, argue that while the Dolans may be lousy owners, they're hardly the worst offenders in recent Cleveland sports history.  Maybe, maybe not.  But what Livingston has unwittingly done is really write the history of Cleveland sports and why it continues to be so tortuous to follow them.  Livingston recounts the poor record of the "new" Browns, particularly all levels of its ownership and management and the money grab by Jim Thome as worse offenses then the "mediocrity" brought on by the Dolans.  As if it helps the argument, Livingston and even dips back a few decades or so to recall the ghost of Ted Stepien in order to provide further contrast.  While Livingston's point about the Dolans his highly debatable, what isn't is the incredible mediocrity at all levels of Cleveland sports and "insight" like Livingston's is why things never get any better.  Rather than use all of the examples, including the Dolans, as a call for action, we end up excusing bad behavior because, well, there's been worse.  I guess that's why Livingston still has a job because until Bob Dolgan officially retires, there will always be someone worse.    

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