Nate's Friday Sports Extravaganza is moving to Monday. Why? Basically I was tired of writing about Browns games after they were already five days stale. This format will allow me to recap the week with NFL Sunday fresh in my mind. NFSE will otherwise maintain its original format.
Whenever I see Ira Newble, Eric Snow or Devin Brown take a shot, I force myself to take a deep breath and believe that GM Danny Ferry is going to get something done. I love how Zydrunas Ilgauskas is playing right now on both ends of the court. He is not a playmaker. I love how Drew Gooden is shooting the ball and rebounding. He is not a playmaker. Daniel Gibson is one of the best pure shooters I've ever seen. He is not a playmaker. Sasha Pavlovic is rounding into the form that made him so valuable in last year's stretch run. He is not a playmaker.
This team needs a POINT GUARD. Our frontcourt is devastating. The backcourt is a joke. Danny Ferry, bring in someone who can share ballhandling duties with LeBron, and make sure he can put the ball in the hole. Easier said than done? Obviously, but watching two games without LeBron made it all too clear how close to the lottery the Eastern Conference champs are. On the other hand, they are one player away from being an unstoppable team. A true point guard puts Daniel Gibson on the bench, where his offensive abilities are best suited. A true point can run the break with LeBron.
Then there is the Anderson Varejao question. Anderson did himself no favors by pointing out how much better a player he is than some of his better paid teammates. Note to Donyell Marshall: Anderson was talking about YOU, buddy. Pissing off management and teammates? Nice thinking Andy. Don't forget the fans, who sacrifice a large chunk of their paychecks to go watch you not play because 6 million per year isn't enough. Way to endear yourself to everyone.
And yet, and yet...the signing of Anderson would eliminate the need for Dwayne Jones, who has no business entering a game for a team trying to get back to the finals. The addition of Anderson would take a lot of pressure of big Z, who is logging too many minutes too early in the season. No matter his popularity at this point, Anderson Varejao gives a great frontcourt added energy and depth.
But here's the rub:
Any deal to bring in a point guard is going to have to include either Anderson or Drew Gooden. The question is: do we sacrifice frontcourt depth for a skilled playmaker? Tough question. Defensive tenacity and offensive rebounding were big reasons why the Cavs made the finals last year. The big reason they got swept? Nobody to make plays beside LeBron, and nobody to match up with Tony Parker. Get a deal done. Somehow. Someway.
Watching the Cavs try to score against Boston without LeBron is giving me bleeding ulcers. Thanks Nazr Mohammed.
Wow, is that a Shannon Brown sighting? It is! Just the fourth game he's entered a game all season. What did this guy do to find himself so deep in Mike Browns doghouse? I have no idea. Is he really worse than Ira Newble? Hard to imagine.
Cavs lose 80-70. I have to believe if LeBron plays in this game the Cavs win. Is it just me or does Boston look like the most overrated 14-2 team of all time? Maybe I'm just jealous.
Before I get to that ugly loss to the highly mediocre Arizona Cardinals, I would like to pay tribute to one of the truly great Cleveland Browns of all time. Bill Willis was hall of fame guard who, more importantly, helped break football's color barrier when he debuted with the Browns in 1946. For 8 seasons he was a standout defender on the perrenial champions of the old AAFL and later the NFL. Willis died on November 27th. He was 86. McBone salutes you, Bill Willis, and your contribution to civil rights.
Ugh. That 27-24 affair against Arizona was one of the more unwatchable games of the season. Penalties. Turnovers. Drops. Mistake after mistake. Both teams played sloppy ball. Neither team deserved the win, but Arizona ultimately did.
Make no mistake. The Browns' offense was way below par in this game, but the reason the Cardinals won was the Browns' total inability to stop the run. With the lead, Arizona controlled the ball for a huge chunk of the fourth quarter. Time after time they gave the ball to Egderrin James and let him chew up yards. He plowed his way to first downs and everyone on the field knew there was nothing the Browns could do about it. Finally, the Browns just ran out of time. They weathered three turnovers for scores, but were unable to get the ball to the offense when the game was on the line.
This season has been enjoyable, to be sure, and a playoff spot is very possible. Still, we're a year or two away from being a real force. Until the defense aquires more talent, the Browns will a one dimesional team. They can score in bunches, and so can their opponents. That's a sure-fire ticket for a quick playoff exit.
That said, Romeo Crennel has done a hell of a job. I sure as hell thought he'd be fired this season. Now he has me believing.
Nice move by Mark Shapiro in bringing in Japanese veteran Masa Kobayashi. Yes, the Tribe had a superb back-end of the bullpen in 2007 with closer Joe Borowski, Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez, but what are the chances that all three will dublicate this season's success. Knowing the nature of relievers, practically zero.
Moreover, it's important to have a stockpile of big arms to begin a season. Look what happened to Keith Foulke last spring. And don't forget Roberto Hernandez. After Foulke's retirement and Hernandez' flameout, the Tribe found themselves scrambling to patch up the holes. Raffy Perez came from practically nowhere to fill the duty of a late inning lefty. That was a bit lucky. Without him, it would have been Aaron Fultz to match up in those high pressure situations late in games. Not optimal.
The point is: bullpens are unstable. So, by signing Kobayashi, the Tribe is leaving less to fate. Let's hope they're not done, because a bad bullpen generally translates into a bad team. Case in point: the 2006 version of the Tribe. Even with Borowski, Betancourt, Perez, Kobayashi, Jensen Lewis (very impressive last season, even in October), Tom Mastny and Aaron Fultz much could go awry.