Monday, August 28, 2006

Maybe It's Her Integrity

Notes From a Busy Sports Weekend

We chuckled, again, at an item in Roger Brown's increasingly idiotic column in this morning Plain Dealer. According to the laziest working man in all of sports, Channel 19's house joke Sharon Reed has scored, in Roger's words, the juicy assignment as ring announcer for an upcoming boxing card in the Flats. Muses Roger "give Reed her due: She's a news anchor, yet she somehow consistently lands juicier sports assignments than Channel 19's actual sportscasters. Last season, Reed was the TV sideline reporter on Cavs regular-season and Browns exhibition games."

We like it when Roger purposely misses the point in order to stroke a source. Even if we can suspend reality and assume that the ring announcer at a Flats boxing card in mid-September qualifies as a juicy assignment, does anyone doubt that the only reason Reed landed the assignment (or any outside assignment for that matter) is the distinct possibility that she may perform it in the nude? Stated differently, does anyone even want to contemplate a naked Channel 19 sports anchor David Pingalore?


We've been rolling around in our mind Sheldon Ocker's comment in yesterday's Beacon Journal that the Indians shouldn't break the bank in order to sign a closer next year. The knee jerk reaction is to wonder whether Sheldon is even watching the games anymore. But Ocker has been around the block more times than Sharon Reed at her high school reunion, so we think it's best not overreact to what seems like an absurd statement.

On close inspection, we need to keep in mind that Ocker is talking about the closer role specifically and not the bullpen generally. And while not offering much analysis, we can't help thinking that in the back of Ocker's mind is the fact that the Indians squandered away the opportunity to vastly improve their bullpen this last offseason because they were so focused on finding a successor to closer Bob Wickman.

In the final analysis, it does seem to make little sense to spend wildly on the closer role, particularly if your team is owned by renowned cheapskates like the Dolans who will make GM Mark Shapiro make the Hobson's choice of spending the limited dollars available on a closer or on depth in the other bullpen slots. As we saw this season, Wickman's effectiveness was hardly the problem. It was the fact that the bridge between the starters and Wickman was more rickety than Sharon Reed's flagging credibility. And this was attributable directly to the fact that Shapiro was so obsessed with getting Trevor Hoffman that he let Bob Howry slip out of town rather than give him a three-year contract.

So maybe Ocker's right. But we think he's right for all the wrong reasons. According to Ocker, history is replete with teams turning failed starters into serviceable closers. While true, this reminds of us former Browns GM Ernie Accorsi's admonition that it is a waste to use high draft picks on offensive linemen. That may be true in any number of cases, but we don't believe it's true generally. And even if true generally, from a Browns fan perspective, a plethora of injured quarterbacks and ineffective running and passing games tells us otherwise. We simply think that Ocker is right because the Indians aren't close to being a contender anyway. They have numerous holes to fill and not enough money in one offseason to do it. Maybe not even two. Given the options that the Dolans lay out, it's better for Shaprio to spend the limited money he has on rebuilding the rest of the bullpen first and continuing to experiment with the closer role. We won't be a contender anytime soon anyway.


We saw that Fausto Carmona was sent back to AAA Buffalo for reprogramming. It turns out that a young pitcher with a live arm and no mental make-up to speak of is probably better suited for a starter's role than a closer, at least that's Shapiro's thinking this week.

Our thinking is that the Indians better stop playing Dr. Phibes and develop Carmona properly or else risk losing him forever. Whether Carmona has the rubber arm required of a closer is unknown at this point. What is known, though, is that he has a brain full of gravy at this point and little trust in the organization that's rushed him through the ranks out of desperation. What's also known is that the quickest way to injure a young arm, indeed any arm, is to keep jerking the pitcher around between starter and closer.


We thought it was a rather anti-climatic preseason game for the Browns on Saturday night. Generally, that's about the only game we really care to watch because the starters play more in that game than in any other preseason game. Nonetheless, the rather ho-hum performance, despite the last-second victory, leaves us at least as perplexed about the outlook as we were going in.

About the only definitive conclusion we could draw from Saturday night's game is that we're glad Channel 19 imploded and we weren't left to suffer Sharon Reed. Beyond that, we are starting to see this former collection of individuals begin to gel into an actual team. We liked what we saw out of Braylon Edwards and the self-proclaimed greatest tight end of all time, Kellen Winslow, Jr. And Jerome Harrison is a legitimate threat to Reuben Droughns later in the year. We also think the Browns will be just fine with Charlie Frye at quarterback, if only because he doesn't seemed overwhelmed by the experience. By comparison, watch Ken Dorsey play. He still looks like a guy who got to suit up because some coach lost a bet. He may be a veteran in the loosest sense of the word, but it's clear that he'll never be more than a distant back-up. Stated differently, we'll buy the whole Stadium a dog bone the first time the fans start clammoring for Dorsey.

Today also is cut down day. As of post time, no big names find themselves on the outside looking in. One mild surprise is that newly acquired cornerback Jeremy LeSuer already finds himself on the injured reserve list and lost for the season. No running backs have been cut but there still is one move to make by 4 p.m. tomorrow. The guess is that GM Phil Savage is trying to move one of them. Given Droughns and the emergence of Harrison, whether or not Savage is successful has about as much import as remembering what you had for lunch last Tuesday.

With only one preseason game to go before CBS takes over the regular season and Sharon Reed finds herself back on the sidelines, the only real question right now is whether she'll do the reports naked.

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