Monday, September 18, 2006


We could spend any number of words, sentences and paragraphs on the Cleveland Browns, but what would be the point? What, too, would be the point of further chastising the sunken Indians?

Still, does anyone need any more proof of what Travis Hafner means to the Indians? Since he went down with a broken hand, the Tribe is averaging over one run per game less. A back-of-the-napkin calculation, based on the Tribe's recent trend without Hafner, reveals that projected over a whole season, they'd be near the bottom in runs scored. In other words, they'd be hanging with Tampa Bay. And while we'd expect them to win more than a third of their games over a whole season even without Hafner, it's interesting to note that they are 5-10 since Hafner went down.

In other words, this just makes our case of a few weeks ago regarding how truly valuable Hafner has been to the Tribe and why he deserves serious consideration for most valuable player, despite the otherwise miserable season on the lakefront.

But what we really found amusing is that now Eric Wedge is mad about the pathetic defensive efforts, particularly in the infield. We noted the other day Jim Ingraham's fine column calling Wedge to task for any number of sins, including their poor fundamentals. It's interesting to note that only now, with mostly rookies and September call-ups in the line-up, that Wedge has taken the Tribe infielders to task for poor play. We suppose, in one sense, it's never too late to close the barn door. On the other hand, we remember Tigers manager Jim Leyland calling to task publicly his whole team after an early season belting by this same Tribe. Shortly thereafter, the Tigers responded and have gone on to lead the Central ever since. Maybe now that Wedge is so publicly upset with poor defense, the Tribe will respond by having the best record in baseball for the last 14 games. Don't count on it.

And if you're looking for solace from the Browns as the Tribe fades quietly into the background, don't count on that either.

For truly offensive behavior, look no further then the on-coming train wreck that is fast becoming the Cleveland Browns season. Only two games into the season and they actually look as though they've regressed from last season. They have absolutely no hope of even being competitive with the Baltimore Ravens this weekend, so next week we'll be talking about their 0-3 start.

The way in which they are losing is what's so alarming. In their first game, they were simply unprepared, an unpardonable sin for the first game of the year. Yesterday, they at least look prepared for their weekly ass-whipping. To paraphrase General George S. Patton, on their first drive yesterday the Bengals went through the Browns like crap through a goose. Frankly, the only thing that kept the Bengals from scoring 50 points was the Bengals. They had all the elements. A 300-yard passer. A 100-yard rusher. A 100-yard receiver. In context, how did they not score 50?

On the offensive side of the ball, we guess it's good that Charlie Frye didn't get sacked. But perhaps the Bengals simply didn't try. Why should they? It's clear at this point that the Browns under Maurice Carthon have absolutely no idea what they are trying to accomplish anyway, so why risk injury when the Browns will simply self-destruct? They have a few good players--Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, Jr., Reuben Droughns. But each week Carthon finds new and clever ways not to use them. Heck, Carthon saw fit not to include his premiere tight end, tight end!, in on numerous third down situations. And these weren't all third-down and long situations. One of the key measures of any offense is third-down conversion rate, something that the Browns have been last or near bottom since their return. This season is shaping up the same way and the finger now points to Carthon. If Carthon survives even the first half of the season, we'd be amazed.

No comments: