Monday, July 9, 2012

What is happening?

Ok, ok, ok... back to sports...

Shut up, Dwight

After today, I hit my breaking point. Call it a milestone moment, maybe even me growing up, but I officially hate Dwight Howard more than LeBron James. Yeah, I said it and I don't care who doesn't like it.

I've never claimed to be a basketball expert and quite frankly don't want to be, but I'm sorry, Dwight is overrated. I mean that in terms of the people he is spoken about with when it comes to these "super teams" and the current group of NBA divas. Dwight is no D-Wade, Carmello, Chris Paul or Kevin Durant. And he's sure as hell no Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. I don't get it with Howard, never have. All I know is sports talk radio and television would be a lot better if he'd shut his horse face up and play basketball. His act is old.

When you make a guy who loves Cleveland to his soul start looking at LeBron James and saying "At least he isn't Dwight Howard", and you're Dwight Howard, time to reconsider your media persona.

Stormy night in Columbus

If you're a follower on twitter or a regular reader of this blog, you know I have my favorites and defend them to the death but still will call a spade a spade when it comes right down to it. As Jim Rome used to say, "Sometimes we have to smack our own." And that's true in the case of Storm Klein.

Saturday night as everyone settled in for NASCAR, UFC, Kelly Pavlik or bellied up to a bar, Urban Meyer relieved Storm Klein (senior linebacker) of his opportunity to be an Ohio State Buckeye football player. Why? Klein was arrested for domestic violence.

So what happened? Allegedly Klein's mother of his child arrived at his apartment to discuss some things with him. What the tone of the the conversation was, only two people know. Klein's attorney then openly admits that Storm "forced the woman out of the apartment and locked the door, and somehow in the process, she got a pronounced welt on her forehead." Somehow? His girlfriends statement claims that Klein "violently and purposely grabbed” her by the forearms and slammed her into the front door, causing an abrasion and swelling to the left side of her forehead and scrapes on both of her forearms."

Just unreal.

You have the opportunity that so many people would die to have. The chance that so many dream of and are never ever in their wildest imagination going to athletically meet the demands and expectations to be an Ohio State Buckeye football player. And this is how you behave? Forget tattoos or championship rings or payments for touchdowns, that's all nothing compared to putting your hands on a woman. Storm, I hope this all blows over and for your sake it's a big misunderstanding etc., but the reality of the situation is likely to make that statement not true. Your own attorney has admitted you bruised this girl up. And this girl,who is she? Not that if she wasn't it makes it alright, but that's the mother of your child! 

What is wrong with people today? Well, luckily Urban Meyer decided there's not going to be a trial in his locker room. Meyer booted Storm almost immediately, citing his actions to "violate the core values of the Ohio State Football Program." I would hope so...

PSU pile on?  

The short answer is, no. I'm not going to pile on PSU after the emails were released showing in intrinsic details on just how involved everyone was and to what degree one of the biggest names in the history of college football protected his buddy and turned a blind eye to what was happening in State College.

This whole story is disgusting. Start to finish, everyone involved, it and they all absolutely stink. And they're covered in it from head to toe. It's not professional or whatever you may want to call it, and I've never said this and meant it before, but if you have any support for Jerry Sandusky, or you in even the most remote way may have or do defend him, do the world a favor and find another solar system to inhabit.

I said I wasn't going to pile on PSU and I'm not. Some great journalist's have done outstanding work in making the masses realize just much scum in the water at "Happy Valley." Instead, I want a piece of the "you don't know the whole story" and "poor Joe" crowd. As a matter of fact, I don't want a piece, I want the whole thing!

The whole story? I don't need nor want to hear it. All I needed to hear was "guilty" on 45 of 48 counts.That's 45 of 48! That's 45 times it could be proven. At minimum, what can you guess, even is Sandusky went unnoticed the first 3-4 times, likely  40 times that someone could have stood up and done the right thing and kicked his fu...

And Joe, poor Joe. Turning his head and acting like he knew nothing. Hoping it would all just blow over and go away. It isn't nice to speak ill of the dead, so I'll stop here.

Oh, and Mike McQueary: You're not a man.

Quit complaining, lighten up! 

Ok, I'm off my own soapbox now. I'll just finish those last two rants with this: I'm not perfect and have faults like anyone, but I've never hit a woman or touched a child. So take that finger you may be pointing at me with your objective "you're not perfect" tone and stick it in your... nose.


Is anyone else ridiculously ready for football to start? I literally smiled the biggest smile I had all day when I read "Browns training camp opens to the public July 28th." I shouted to myself "That's in LESS THAN THREE WEEKS! HOORAY!!!"

There's so much drama surrounding our Ohio teams, too. The Browns have the Brandon Weeden/Colt McCoy debate. The nation will be watching to see how Urban Meyer fares on the home sidelines of Ohio Stadium. The Bengals will continue internal discussions whether to just admit they're Kentucky's team... I kid my Cincy friends... maybe.

It's all finally right around the corner. It's getting so close, yet still so tantalizingly far. We can almost touch it, but then it gets pulled back, like when our older uncles used to hold out the ball and then pull it away at the last second when you were a kid. Then he'd have you "pick a winner" by your gut instinct and use it as a decider on who to put the money on with the bookies that night. Ah, the good ol' days!

Wrap it up!

So we didn't really get too into the "x's and o's", but we did get back on the sports track. And I promise as we get closer and closer to football, and obviously once it starts, we'll get back to our usual hot topics of the week and breaking down games like we always do. Until then, I hope you all took a few minutes to read my last post on my trip to Orion Music and More. It's truly a weekend I'll never forget. Before shutting down the house, I wanted to share this photo I was emailed of the last few standing at the Atlantic City Hard Rock Cafe in the Taj Mahal on Friday night that I wrote about.

I'm on the left behind the dude in red (his name is Alex) with both arms in the air like an idiot. My dude Jeremiah is in blue to my right. Notice the dude in the kilt towards the front. Told you so.

So how should we finish this? The only way we know how...

Metallica track of the week...

Independence Day was last week, so what better than the ultimate Independence Day song, "Don't Tread On Me"! From the opening lyrics of "Liberty or death, what we so proudly hail, once you provoke her, rattling of her tail" to James Hetfield perfect description of the snake on the flag as an "emblem of vigilance" the song is red, white and blue to the core! And it crushes! From Orion (night two when I was in the snake pit, right at Hetfield's feet!) here is "Don't Tread On Me"

And as a bonus, here is video I took with my Iphone of the end of  "Through The Never" and the beginning of "Don't Tread On Me"

Good night now! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Orion 2012

It's been a while! I didn't realize how long until I logged in this evening. Hope you missed me!

Before I even get started, let me make one thing very clear regarding the content of this post with a disclaimer so that there are no misinterpretations or false expectations before you go any further: This post has nothing to do with sports, a concert, a festival, a vacation or weekend trip. This is about family. Metallica's family. And if you don't know what that is about or why it is so important to me, I strongly encourage you to keep reading. If you're looking for my rants on scUM, hatred of all things Pittsburgh (though it will be mentioned further down the post) or how badly I feel the Indians front office and ownership are short changing their fans, this isn't the post. I hope you continue on.

Back in February, the seventh to be exact, a huge announcement from Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and all around super-group Metallica was being waited on with anxious energy. The rumors flew about what the announcement would be, where it would take place and who it would involve. Still fresh of the heels of their 30th Anniversary Met Club (Metallica's fan-club) only shows at the Fillmore in December that featured guests of all varieties that had either been a part of or directly impacted the career of the metal juggernauts, nobody had any idea what to expect next. All that we knew and had to go on was Lars Ulrich's comments at the end of night 4, Saturday, December 10th in the Fillmore of  "Put a big f*cking pair of red x's on the calendar for June 23rd and 24th on the east coast of America, because you know what we're gonna do? We're gonna take this thing into a big assed f*ckin place, and you know what, there's gonna be an announcement in the middle of January!" So he was off by a few weeks...

As it would be, on February 7th the announcement came via a live stream of the band interviewed by legendary long time rock journalist and editor of the Met Club magazine "So What!", Steffan Chirazi. It was unveiled that Metallica's first festival would fill the dates of June 23 and June 24 and it would take place in Atlantic City, New Jersey at Bader Airfield. Appropriately, the festival was to be named after the bands original bass player, the late Cliff Burton, and be called "Orion Music and More". The song Orion on the album "Master of Puppets" being a masterpiece, largely penned by Burton and included unheard of bass solo's in a thrash metal song. It was a great choice for the title.

Once this announcement was made, the buzz began immediately amongst the members of the Met Club and the metal/hard rock public in general. Who else would be involved? Will Metallica play both nights? What surprises will be in store in the same vein as the Fillmore guests? Some details were revealed instantly: Yes, Metallica would be playing full shows both nights and as a bonus they will play the album "Ride the Lightning" in its entirety for the first time ever and also play the self titled "Metallica" aka "The Black Album" in its entirety. Other acts were announced: Modest Mouse, Arctic Monkey's, Sepultura, Suicidal Tendencies, Avenged Sevenfold, Eric Church, comedian Jim Breuer, The Gaslight Anthem and Cage The Elephant to name a few. It was also announced that there would be fan interactive setups that focused on the "off the stage" interests of the members of the band. For example: A "Custom Hot Rod" car show put on by James Hetfield. "Kirk's Crypt", a large sample of Kirk Hammett's massive horror movie collection. The Van's half pipe skating demo's and a surf shop ran by Robert Trujillo. Lars Ulrich had his own movie theater for independent films that he would be sitting in on and having question and answer segments with the directors. ESP Guitars and many other rock memorabilia vendors set up booths. Not to mention a private "lounge" exclusively for Met Club members to get out of the sun, sip lower priced drinks and meet the people who run the Metallica fan club. And more, as the name suggests.

Now that I have you all filled in on the event, let me let you in on the worst part of it: I couldn't go. Financially I couldn't swing it and I doubted that I'd be able to get the time off from work, with it still being a relatively new position. Having been to the Fillmore in December, at first it didn't bother me. "There will be plenty more shows" I said to my self. "They'll do this again next year, you watch" I convinced myself. But as the date drew closer, the more (literally) depressed I felt myself getting.

You see, when there's one thing in your life that always makes you feel better, always lifts you up, always provides a release and never lets you down, it's hard to see it having one of its potentially finest hours and not be a part of it. Through every turn of my life, good or bad, happy or sad, this band has been there for me. People talk about "the heeling power of music" and I believe in it. And when you connect with a group, relate to their feelings and actually feel moved by what they are saying and playing, it is a beautiful thing. You can laugh or snicker, and for that I feel sorry for you. To not know the power that music can hold, any band or solo artist too, it doesn't have to specifically be Metallica, is a true crime to yourself. Don't be afraid to express yourself and let art be a part of your life. 

Through an absolutely unthinkable circumstance, the other thing in my life that has always made me feel better, always lifted me up and never let me down, my family, pulled out all the stops and decided that I could not miss this event. A mere two weeks prior to Orion opening its gates for the masses to enjoy, my sister called to ask me if I had plans on June 23rd. When I said "no" begrudgingly and in a I'm sure not too pleasant tone, she asked if I'd like to be in Atlantic City for Orion. I told her of course, but there was no way. She then dropped that the bomb that my parents wanted to foot the bill for the entire trip and would take it as an insult if I didn't go. Who the hell am I to insult my parents?! What kind of son would I be if I turned them down on this heartfelt gift? As if they really had to twist my arm...

Skip ahead a few days and reservations for hotels are made, a two day "Met Club Ultra Pass" ticket is bought, work cooperates and generously allows me the vacation time and suddenly I'm a part of the "countdown to Orion." It happened so fast and was so unexpected and so ridiculously generous I don't think I comprehended I was actually going until Thursday afternoon when I put Peanut (my dog) in the car and set out for Atlantic City.

Let me take one quick second before I get to the "good stuff" to once again tell my parents (and sister who I'm told originally had the idea) how much I appreciate and love them for doing this for me. They know what 2011 was like for me, they know what this band means to me... they are the best friends and people I will ever know. I love you guys!

I said this was about family, and now to discuss the other family involved: The Metallica Family. What former bassist Jason Newsted famously described some fifteen years ago as an "army", the hardcore Metallica fans have morphed into a family. As Met Club members (affectionately known as "Clubbers") we are privileged to enter drawings for chances to meet the band, have exclusive seating at shows, chat amongst ourselves on "Poor Posting Me" (the Met Club message board) and we even get the quarterly magazine that is more like a quarterly yearbook put out by Steffan and the Met Club staff entitled So What!, amongst many other perks. However, the best perk or privilege is the times spent together and the friendships made. To be brutally honest, my best friends, the people I text or talk to nearly daily, all are friends I met through the Met Club.

Upon arriving in Atlantic City and getting checked in and settled into the Sheraton Convention Center, the number one priority was heading over to the Hard Rock Cafe in the Taj Mahal for the "Unofficial Met Club Orion Pre-show Party" to see all my friends. Scratch that... to see the family! I walk in and am instantly greeted by Clubbers from all over America and the world. The Scottish guys wearing their kilts and Metallica t-shirts. "Guatemallica" the Guatemalan chapter of the Met Club is having a go of it at the center of the bar. Buffalo, New York is in the house. So is northern and southern Caifornia, South Dakota, Cleveland, Texas, Mexico, Canada, the list goes on and on. Some I've met, others I know from the message boards or Facebook, others I'm meeting for the very first time. Even the people you're just meeting at that very moment, they feel like old friends. Beers and drinks are passed along, with guys and girls insisting the group they are with at the moment have a sip of whatever their customary beverage may be. Literally a group of well over 100 people from all parts of the globe are converged on the bar area of the Hard Rock Cafe in Atlantic City, all wearing Metallica t-shirts, living in the moment and smiling at the thoughts of the weekend ahead. And when "For Whom The Bell Tolls" comes on the Hard Rock satellite video channel, the lyrics are sung at a deafening volume. A "blackened roar, massive roar" so exciting and not before seen that the management of the Hard Rock Atlantic City calls their corporate office and asks to have the video the played again so they can tape the sing-along for future promotional use. Or maybe because nobody would believe them if they didn't see it themselves. For the balance of the evening, the satellite video channel goes all metal with Metallica videos in heavy double shot rotation. The family is pleased.

At the Hard Rock, I am awaiting the arrival of "Dave from Cleveland" who from here on will just be called Dave. I met Dave in 2009 at the World Magnetic Tour date at Quicken Loans Arena. We both were fortunate enough to win the coveted "meet and greet" pass to meet the band. Thank God for Dave making me laugh while we waited or I may have seriously threw up my lunch due to the nerves I had waiting on my chance to shake the hand of and have a conversation with one James Alen Hetfield. I hadn't seen Dave since that night but we'd kept in touch through social media. He finally arrives and brought along another 'tallica die-hard, his good friend Josh. Later on we are introduced to Jeremiah, a dude who works in the oil fields in California and served in the United States Army. We drink some more, we get loud, we talk to everybody, we sing along with everyone, we close the Hard Rock and venture out into the Taj Mahal to create havoc. I didn't realize then that we'd become a "wolf-pack" and would pal around all weekend. Good stuff! You want more details? So much "high school" nonsense...  

The first day of Orion arrives in a hurry after the long Friday night. I board a shuttle, head over to Bader Airfield and am completely in awe of what Metallica has done. They truly have outdone themselves again. The field is set up in almost a diamond shape with the four stages all at the points, each named after Metallica songs: "Damage Inc.", "Fuel", "Frantic" and the main stage aptly titled "Orion". Bands have already begun, the huge variety of food smells fill the air, I've already ran into four people from the Hard Rock and haven't even gotten 100 yards past the entrance. The merchandise booths are huge, the t-shirts are commemorative and very bad ass!

Almost instantly as I get by the "Custom Hot Rod" car show, I see a golf cart racing towards me and people staring as it fly's by. It stops directly to my left, almost 10 or so feet away. In the back is James Hetfield. He hops out, walks around the tent where they are actually restoring an old car into a hot rod, shakes some hands, mingles with the people... You must be kidding me right? How am I in that exact right place at the exact right time...

The afternoon goes on and I wonder around. I don't see much of Dave and Josh since they won passes to be in the Snake Pit on Saturday night. If you're unaware, the Snake Pit was a hole in the center of the stage filled with Met Club members on the original Black Album tour. Since the Black Album is being played in its entirety this summer, the Snake Pit has been brought back for one last go around. Every Clubber is dying to win a pass to get in. I am not so lucky. But, how can I be upset when two weeks ago I wasn't supposed to be there anyway. I do strike a deal with a Clubber: If I win, I'll be his "+1" into the pit and vice versa if he wins. Amazingly, he wins and we are set to meet up Saturday afternoon.

Later in the afternoon, I get a text from Jeremiah telling me to meet him in the Met Club lounge. I do, we bum around checking out some bands and grabbing something to eat. I'm still waiting for my cohort with the pit pass to text or call, but he's not responding. Finally, around 5:30 I decide this is it, last time I'm checking my phone to see if my cohort is going to contact me for the "pit swap". Nothing. I tell Jeremiah "Well, it would have been cool, but oh well." To which he responds "That's alright, just come in the Snake Pit with me on Sunday night." I can't believe it. I should because that's the type of thing the Metallica Family does, but I can't believe it.

To be fair: My original Snake Pit cohort did contact me on Tuesday and apologized like crazy. Turns out his phone was stolen on Friday night.

Did I mention that Metallica is headlining both of these nights?

As dusk falls on Saturday, we make our way to the Met Club Ultra Pass area (first twenty rows from the stage, gated off from all the "regular" festival attendees lol). "A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)" blasts through the PA system, followed by the haunting bars of Ennio Morricone's "Ecstasy of Gold" signifying that it's Metallica time! The boys blast through a powerhouse of a set, play the album Ride The Lightning backwards and close the show with the customary closer "Seek and Destroy". Ears are bleeding, physical exhaustion is setting in, sweaty as can be, filthy, dying of thirst, starving... and we get to do it all again on Sunday!

I wake up Sunday with pep in my step. The Snake Pit. The Black Album. I'm ready! I get over to the festival and met up with Jeremiah. We grab lunch and eat in the Met Club lounge were Steffan Chirazi is doing a question and answer with Metal Blade Records pioneer (and a close friend to Metallica who helped them get started way back in the day) Brian Slagel. I get a moment to speak to Steffan after the Q&A. I tell him that writing is something I do in my spare time, but something I'm passionate about. I'm not trying to suck up to him, but I have no restraint in telling him how much I enjoy his work and how much it meant to me when he mentioned my writing in an issue of So What!, calling my runner-up winning submission for Top Thirty Metallica Moments "Very well thought out and supremely presented". He encourages me to keep going and says there is no reason to ever be nervous about expressing how you feel... Family.

We leave the Met Club lounge, see a few songs from Ghost, then meet up with Dave and Josh. By the way, Ghost is really good. Just know ahead of time, the subject matter and the outfits are all for show, like Kiss in the 70's. Brian Slagel said they remind him of a heavier Blue Oyster Cult. Spot on.

The Wolf-pack is now running loose at Bader Field. To be honest, we mostly clown around, it's not really that interesting... or so I want you to think. We run into more Clubbers. Exchange hello's and pleasantries. We wait in the mile long line to get in to "Kirk's Crypt". As we get to the front of the line, we find out that The Ripper himself, Mr. Hammett is actually inside his crypt. While we aren't fortunate enough to get inside and grab an autograph or a hand shake, we do make life slightly difficult for the woman driving him away in a golf cart. She threatens us with "I will run you over!" Maybe it's fatigue from the sun, but nobody is willing to test her and Kirk is escorted away unscathed.

While inside Kirk's Crypt, I hear a familiar voice from the Fuel stage behind it. James is there introducing the next band.... VOLBEAT! We hustle out and rock with the boys from Denmark, who blister the crowd, as always! If you don't know Volbeat, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR LIFE?!

After Volbeat we grab a quick chicken taco dinner and it's time to find our spot for the evening in the Snake Pit. Eric Church does his he-haw routine, nobody cares when you're opening for the almighty. Then the lights go out and  "A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)" blasts through the PA system again, as always followed by Ennio Morricone's "Ecstasy of Gold" with the cemetery scene from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly playing on the big screens.

Moments later, our hero's burst out to their classic "Hit the Lights" and it is officially on! They are absolutely crushing tonight, even more than Saturday night. We get our full does of up close Metallica with the guys shredding their guitars and bass no more than mere inches from our face. The Black Album is incredible! James is at his best in front of large crowds and he doesn't disappoint tonight, leading the crowd to harmonize during "My Friend of Misery". What a moment. "Don't Tread on Me" can be felt in your chest. "Gimme Fuel, Gimme Fire, Gimme That Which I Desire"! My face is melted, my throat is raw... what a night!

The Snake Pit empties and we find Dave and Josh and head for the exits. On the way we pass even more Clubbers and exchange comments on the show or maybe just a fist bump. By now, after nearly three days, we recognize people from a far distance. I've taken so many small group photo's and been asked to give a "metal pose" so many times I think I've perfected it. We take more. You can genuinely feel people, despite the pile driver Metallica just gave them, almost a little sad that it's over and everyone is heading there own ways. I feel it too.

And so off we go, back to our jobs and homes. We'll remember the first Orion forever. We'll remember it for the performances that Metallica put on, the albums played straight through and some of the older gems that were brought out. But when people ask us about it, the first thing we'll talk about is the people we met and hung out with. The Metallica Family.

"The Metallica Family! Right here! Right now!"    James Hetfield

Oh, and that comment earlier about my Pittsburgh hatred...

"When he's drinking, he's like the nicest guy on Earth. Sober, mention the Steelers and he wants to break things!"     Jeremiah Malich

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The TRUTH about Chris Perez comments

In case you're unaware, Chris Perez (Indians closer) has started a firestorm with comments he made following Saturday nights win over the Miami Marlins. Perez entered the game in the 9th and buzz-sawed the Marlin batters with ten pitches (nine strikes) taking them down in order to close the game. Unfortunately, he opened his mouth after, starting with this...

"I was tired of getting booed at home so I figured, 'I'd better throw some strikes.' You can quote that." referring to his last outing on Thursday night, an Indians 6-5 victory over Seattle in 11 innings. Perez pitched a scoreless 10th, but was booed when he put two runners on base.

He continued  "They booed me against the Mariners when I had two guys on. It feels like I can't even give up a base runner without people booing me. It's even worse when there's only 5,000 in the stands, because then you can hear it. It pisses me off."After I struck out (Mariners catcher, Jesus) Montero, the mock standing applause just adds to it... You see their true colors."

He closed it out by blaming Indians fans for the team not being able to sign high profile free agents with this doozy "Guys don't want to come over here and people wonder why... Why doesn't Carlos Beltran want to come over here? Well, because of that. That's part of it. It doesn't go unnoticed, trust us. I'm not calling out the fans. It's just how it is. That stuff is reserved for road games. We don't want to deal with that crap. Here, good fans are supposed to help you try to get through the inning and say, 'Hey, you're only one pitch away. Hey, it's all right.'"

He was then interviewed this morning before today's game, and even VP Mark Shapiro released a statement about the Perez comments from Saturday night.

This morning: "In 2010, I wouldn’t have said those comments. We deserved to get booed, we deserved for nobody to be here. But we’ve been building up for this season and we’re good. We have a good team. We haven’t even played our best ball and we’re in first place. It’s been years building up and Thursday was the last straw for me. I had it on Thursday and yesterday was my first time to talk."

He went on "It’s not a good atmosphere. It’s not fun to be here. Especially when you’re not playing well or not getting that many hits or you’re not pitching well. Baseball is supposed to be fun. At the end of the day, this is a game. It’s a child’s game, I understand that. But if you have the choice to go an atmosphere where it’s fun every day, like Philadelphia or some place like that where every day it’s fun just to go there, that helps you get through some seasons sometimes, some games. In August, when it’s 100 degrees out and you come back from a West Coast trip and you’re tired, that energy can help you push through a couple of games. Maybe it gets you a couple wins here or there. It makes a difference, it really does."

And about fans hatred toward the ownership "I think some of it is the media. Some of it is the fans. They want a winner. I think some of the ownerships in this city aren’t accountable. There are a lot of reasons. The economy. I’m not stupid, I understand the economy is bad around here. I understand that people can’t afford to come to the game. But there doesn’t need to be the negativity. I don’t understand the negativity. Enjoy what we have. We have a first-place team. How many teams in the country would want that right now?"

Finally "School is out now. The last three days have been amazing weather. The fans are going to come. I know that. It’s just a slap in the face when you’re last in attendance. Last. It’s not like we’re 25th or 26th. We’re last. Oakland is out-drawing us. That’s embarrassing."

I was going to leave this topic alone after my few quick tweets late last night, but reading about people supporting Perez and even hearing (I can't see it because I live in Charlotte) that Bruce Drennen took to supporting Perez on "All Bets are Off" tonight... well, I snapped.

Chris Perez needs to shut his mouth and throw strikes. Don't worry about the fans in the stands or what other owners of professional franchises in the city are doing or not doing. Let me break a few things down for you, Chris.

You say you understand the economy and that your not stupid. I read two comments from you this morning that scream to the contrary. Do you know what it costs for a family of four to go to a Major League Baseball game? Tickets, food, kids wants souvenirs, parking, gas... Most fans get to the stadium once a year, and if they have a large family maybe not at all. So if you understand the economy and are not stupid, wouldn't you realize that if Mr. Dad and his wife want to take the kids to a ballgame and spend that kind of money, they aren't typically going to want to do it during the week (kids have school the next morning) and when the weather is completely unpredictable in Cleveland, Ohio. So you say you're not stupid, then support why people wouldn't want to come to the yard on a Tuesday night in April... That's called talking out of your you-know-where, Chris.

The question of ownership was brought up to Perez and he blamed everyone except the ownership. Good move, Chris! Those are the people who sign your paychecks so I understand you don't want to lash out at Larry Dolan. Well, let me do it for you and in the process explain why your comments prove that you are, despite your claims against such, stupid.

Chris, when Larry Dolan bought this team, he promised we would stay on course with winning. Nothing is guaranteed and we all know that, but a return to the basement dwelling 80's Indians that were so bad that Hollywood made a "against all odds feel good underdog becomes a champion" movie about the team was almost a near certainty to not happen. Again, nothing is guaranteed and we all aren't, dare I say stupid, and realize that anything in the world of sports can happen. And since you know so much about our sports history, you know what I'm talking about after watching Ernest Byner drop the ball in Denver or John Elway go 98 yards at Municipal Stadium when on both occasions things looked wrapped up. You should know a little since you admitted to having watched the 97 World Series and witnessed the most dominating closer in the game blow a one run lead in the ninth inning of game seven and send it to extra innings where our beloved would eventually succumb to a game winning base hit from a rookie named Edgar Renteria.

I bring this up because when Captain Larry took control of the Indians ship there were really only a few question we all wanted to know: Would we be spending top dollar to keep homegrown talent? Will we be (within reason, certainly not like John Hart during the Dick Jacobs days) chasing free agents to better the roster? And, most importantly, if this team is in a pennant race, will you allow Mark Shapiro the ability to spend some money making trades to get the pieces to put the team over the top? The answers were yes, yes and emphatically yes.

Since the day Jacobs Field was turned into "Larry's LaLa Land" what have we seen? We've seen a hardworking scouting staff get young talent. We've seen players grow and emerge into All-Stars. We've seen Cy Young winners. We've seen a playoff series that should have sent us to a World Series that would have certainly been won over the Colorado Rockies. And those are all great things. All reasons to be proud of and support this team we all love so much. But what has happened with those guys? Why are the Indians not in the playoffs every year and, most importantly, where are those World Series rings and when was the championship parade the city so desperately desires as a result of all those good things?

The truth, Chris, is that ownership has squandered those things. Due to ownerships payroll demands (we must assume since why else would these moves be made) the Indians front office traded (TRADED!) in back to back seasons the American League Cy Young winner. They traded away All-Star and huge fan favorite Victor Martinez. They have a gem at shortstop in Asdrubal Cabrera and they signed him to a two year (two years?!) offer... conveniently just about how long Derek Jeter has left patrolling short in the Bronx. When the team was a bat away from being potential AL front runners, Larry gave the go-ahead to a trade for a huge player that would really add pop to the lineup and protect Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez... 40 year old Kenny Lofton. We all rallied around The Jake and "Jacobs Field Magic"... and he sold the damn name to an auto insurance group. Spend some money on some free agents? Forget it, we need to buy the equipment for Snow Days! The team was in first and still hanging around in July last year, badly in need of a corner outfielder... they acquired Kosuke Fukodome from the Cubs. Awesome, Chris! The guy is so good, he's hitting .175 for the White Sox this year.

I know, I know, I know. They traded for Ubaldo Jimenez. Think they plan on resigning Ubaldo when his contract is up? Ask Cliff Lee or CC Sabathia. They didn't even want to pay Carl Pavano... or did they trade him... either way it reeked of a cash dump, like always. And you can theorize, and it isn't a stretch, that by trading Alex White and Drew Pomeranze to the Rockies for Jimenez, they may have saved themselves the fan backlash of seeing another big arm become a financial tragedy in a trade.

So what is our response? Sit like sheep and keep filing into the stadium, spending money we don't have so the guy in the owners box can get richer while we keep saying "man, wouldn't it be great if they'd have kept..."? No, Chris, our response is the only way we can affect change and that is by not buying into the product. And spare me this "We're in first place!" garbage. Everyone is in first place in April and May. Everyone still has hope and a chance in April and May. Be in first place in late July or August, September. That's when it matters.

And believe me, when Larry Dolan starts allowing Mark Shapiro to shell out some cash for some top level talent in free agency (even one!) fans will be there. Look up toward the right field mezzanine. See that "455"? That's consecutive sellouts! Let me know when the promised lands of Philadelphia and St. Louis, where the fans really support their teams, are anywhere even close to 455. Hell, let me know when they are anywhere near 55!

Another thing: "At the end of the day, this is a game. It’s a child’s game, I understand that. But if you have the choice to go an atmosphere where it’s fun every day..." Grow up! The child's game you and I love so much ceased to be a "child's game" for you the day you put your name on a contract and became a professional player. I don't know many eight year old's getting 4.5 MILLION to play this "child's" game. So suck it up. If you get booed, guess what, we have that right! You know why, cause you're a professional ball player and we paid our money to see you play! If we go to the theater and see a play and it sucks, we boo. Same thing here! I don't think you'd hear the actors crying about the town the theater is in and fan support for the show. "Wow, nobody wants to see our play... maybe because it sucks?" Maybe because the guy who owns the theater won't fix the holes in the seats? Maybe because we were promised Leonardo Dicaprio and instead got Sly Stallone?

What to me is really funny is the way he backtracks this morning and, essentially, explains why the fans haven't been to the stadium thus far this season. He cites the weather and economy. Again, how can you claim to not be stupid yet you know the answers to the reason you are bitching? And the other big answer to your complaint you can't discuss because those people can fine or suspend you. I'm almost wondering if this "lash out" isn't actually geared toward ownership in a backwards way.

People also should know, this isn't the first time he's made derogatory comments about Cleveland fans. It's just the first time he's done it with a microphone in front of his face. Anyone on twitter for a while can tell you about the uproar he caused when he supported LeBron James after "The Decision" on his twitter page.

Perez also likes to talk about the Browns. He mentioned "I think some of the ownerships in this city aren’t accountable." and we know he means Randy Lerner and the Browns. He has made comments on his twitter page many times about the fans supporting the Browns and not coming out full force for the Indians. Chris, you just don't get it. Cleveland is a football town. Always has been and always will be. That doesn't mean there isn't room for other sports franchises in Cleveland. It just means that in Ohio, specifically north eastern Ohio, football has always been king. Look at the turnouts and the talk about our high school programs, let alone the Ohio State Buckeyes. You're in a football town. I'm sorry. Deal with it! And as far as Randy Lerner goes: If Randy Lerner could buy a Super Bowl, he'd do it. He wouldn't worry about the bottom line or his profit margins, he'd just do it. So for as many times as he may foul things up and get it wrong, we always know it isn't because he's interested in bleeding us dry of money to pad his pockets like Larry Dolan is. That's earns him a pass. Don't like it? Too bad. It's our city. You're just a guest.

Mark Shapiro weighed in on Perez's comments this morning as well. One of Shapiro's comments that really stood out to me was "One of the unfortunate aspects of our current owners is the timing of when they bought the team. I think that, to be judged through the lens of the mid-90s teams is unfair." Ok, fair enough. But if you hadn't gone the bargain basement route (see my paragraphs above) we wouldn't even be having this discussion. Kenny Lofton? It wasn't 1997!

Shapiro towed the company line when asked for a statement "We as an organization clearly disagree with him. We appreciate our fans, we respect our fans. We certainly want more to come and we’re working extremely hard to make that happen, but it’s our underlying belief that if the team continues to play the way it plays and we continue to win, then more fans will come out. It was about this time last year that more and more fans began to come." Of course you do. Cause you're not stupid (there's that word again) and realize school is out, the weather is going to get better and the team is in first place. All things that Chris Perez says he knows but is still bitching about attendance and Indians fans.

Here's what I think it all boils down to: Perez is jealous of the Browns. Clearly, this cannot be denied. He may not understand it, but he is jealous of the love this city has with its football team. He also has a sore ass from being booed on Thursday and decided to do the worst possible thing a professional athlete can do and that is open up their big mouth when they are in a highly emotional state of mind. I'd say he's just stupid, but he specifically claims he isn't. He then cites reasons why he isn't. Yet he's crying about the fans. The only possible answers are Browns fan "love" envy and a sore ass.

Now, people supporting him, especially ones saying things like "Well, he could have worded it differently, but he's right" are the worst kind of cattle to me. Just get in with the group, moo and move right along in the herd and eat whatever they shove in your face. Perez's comments were uncalled for and an attack on Indians fans from him that has been boiling up since the LeBron debacle. What part of what he said is accurate but not stated delicately enough? That fans should be packed in the stands in April in Cleveland on Wednesday nights? Because his team jumped out to a decent start and is in first place... in April and early May? If you support Chris Perez's comments in any way shape or form you're not taking a stand and speaking the truth, rather you're a part of the problem. This guy calls you a fair weather fan, trashes our fanbase, and you stick up for him? Why not just stop by his house and wash his cars or take out his trash. Maybe he'll tell you that you aren't cutting his grass straight enough and you can work extra hard to make the checkered lines straight! He's a professional athlete for a team we all love, but that doesn't make him infallible or right in any way. There was a time we all went to bat and would have fought for LeBron James too. Don't buy this garbage. Make him accountable for these stupid statements. If I were at Jacobs Field this week, I'd boo the mention of his name. I'd carry a sign that says "Weather: 70's. Rain: 10%. Kids: Summer Vaca. Team: First place. Being at the yard on a Wednesday night: priceless. Is my presence ok with you, Chris?"

Perez finished up Saturday with this gem "It's a business. You didn't choose to get drafted by Cleveland. I'm in it for my family. Who knows? I could throw my last pitch tomorrow" If it wouldn't hurt the bullpen, I'd surely be all in favor of you throwing your last pitch in a CLEVELAND Indians uniform.  


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Oh What Night

Another NFL draft has come and gone. Years from now when we look back and evaluate the Browns picks, we'll declare "hits" and "misses" like when we were kids trying to sink our friends battleship. There will be arguments, we'll say some guys careers were not as good or as bad as their perceived "value" regarding the round they were picked.

The Browns wasted no time Thursday night and ramped up the action early with a trade to swap picks with the Minnesota Vikings to nab the third selection in the draft. With the exception of Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer who stuck by here sources telling her that Justin Blackmon was going to be the pick, nearly up to the minute it was announced, everyone knew that the Browns were getting their man, Alabama running back and all around ass kicker Trent Richardson. If you're a reader of this here blog, you know that I was more than elated that T-Rich is going north to join our beloved. My feelings have been pretty clear: he's the best fit, best value and the one guy in this draft that is going to instantly make a difference for the offense of the team that selects him. We've all heard the knocks on running backs: the tread on the tires, the shortened careers, the "multi-back" way of the future. I don't care. Richardson is special and the Browns need special players on offense. Now.

I was also elated with the trade. Seeing Heckert show the initiative to make the move and get his guy shows me confidence from him we have yet to witness. Only a guy confident in his evaluation, confident in his scouts and confident in his desire for a particular player makes a move to go up one spot to get him. Tampa Bay could have jumped Cleveland and made a deal with Minnesota to essentially steal Richardson from them. Tom Heckert wasn't taking any chances. He knew what he wanted and wasn't going to let anyone get in the way of getting it. I like that! Show me some conviction and make your move! As a fan, make me believe in what you're doing!

It didn't take long for Heckert to challenge everyone's thoughts that he was going to make the shrewd moves and wheel and deal this year, when at number twenty two he picked Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. Yes, that Oklahoma State quarterback. Same one that's twenty eight years old. I won't sit here and say I wasn't a little shocked when the pick came out. I can't say I wasn't a little angry. Everything we all read or heard on television told us that if the Browns truly wanted Weeden, he'd be there at pick thirty seven in the second round. A wide receiver was the true position of need, now that Richardson was in the fold. The only problem was, and I realized this later on, what wide receiver was there that warranted the twenty second pick in the draft? Looking back now, it seems nobody.

Theories abound...

My hypotheses, and I've put a lot of thought in to this, is that Heckert and Mike Holmgren targeted Weeden and knew what they would be willing to give up in trade to get him. One way or another, he was coming to Cleveland. We heard the ESPN doofas on site in Berea state that he was told by Heckert he had a "running back - wide receiver" plan and a "wide receiver - running back" plan for the first round. If Heckert was willing to move up for Richardson, it means Blackmon was never in the plan. So the "wide receiver then running back" theory back that was floated about can quickly be shot down. In my theory, the plan was "running back - wide receiver/Weeden". After the Richardson pick, all eyes went to Kendall Wright and if he'd make it to twenty two.  When he came off the board (at pick twenty to Tennessee) the decision was made to get Weeden right then.

But why, you may ask? Going back to what I said earlier, what wide receiver was there that was worth pick twenty two once Wright came off the board? The next wide receiver picked was a huge reach when Jim Harbaugh took Illinois wideout AJ Jenkins at pick thirty. Jenkins is a guy most thought would go in round three or even later. Following him was Brian Quick of Appalachian State (the 1-AA school that beat Michigan in the Whore House, in case anyone forgot!) at thirty three, another reach for a guy expected to last into the late second early third round realm. Next wide receiver off the board was Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech at pick forty three to the New York Jets. While that's a good value pick and he s likely worth pick forty three, is he worth pick twenty two? Absolutely not. So if not Weeden at twenty two, then who?

You probably then wonder "well, what if Wright had made it to twenty two?" It's easy, pick him! Now! Before someone finds a way to change their mind and take him off the board! So then of course, What if Weeden didn't make it to thirty seven? I don't believe Heckert and Holmgren had any plans on waiting to find out. There's rumors for just about anything when it comes to the draft. And while they weren't very loud, one rumor I kept hearing Thursday from the "experts" being brought on to WFNZ in Charlotte was that Cleveland could be looking to move back into the first round to grab Weeden and that the Patriots or Giants could be trade partners. And then the expert went on and on about how shrewd Belichick is or how the Giants could stand to move down and grab some extra picks for depth, never really focusing on the only thing I heard while he was talking and that was "Browns possibly moving up for Brandon Weeden". I believe there's a lot of fire behind the smoke of that rumor. I believe if Wright fell to them at twenty two, we'd have seen a move late Thursday night or very early Friday to acquire a pick high enough to secure Weeden.

Of course, that's all hypothesis and speculation and me having way too much time on my hands late at night when I should sleeping and instead stare at the wall. But it makes me feel better about the Weeden pick, and, it gives me that feeling in the same manner as the trade to get Richardson. These guys are confident and know who they want and are willing to do what it takes to get them. Those are the kind of guys I want running the front office of my favorite football team.

Ron Weasley

Yes, it's kind of a dork comment. Forget kind of, it is a dork comment. But does anyone else think Brandon Weeden looks like a twenty eight year old version of Ron Wesley from the Harry Potter series? Don't act stupid, you've seen those movies! I'm willing to admit, reluctantly at first, I watched them. And by then end I was looking forward to the release of the series finale. But enough nerd-ness tonight... How about that new quarterback coming to Cleveland?

Admittedly, I knew very little about Weeden prior to reading draft magazines and watching all these programs about the draft. I knew he was big. I knew he played for Oklahoma State. I'd seen them wallop some cats, and seen them get upset by Iowa State. I also knew what everyone else knew: he's twenty eight years old.

I'm not even going to get into the age matter except to say this: The Browns drafted him, at pick twenty two and at twenty eight years old, they intend to play him. Don't believe a word of "quarterback battle" talk or sitting behind Seneca Wallace till he's "ready" or any of that jazz. This kid (man?) is here to play now. Time is not a luxury the front office has with Weeden. Should they sit him and have him learn for a few years, then try and see if he can play... when he's thirty one?! Of course not. So don't listen to your buddy who think he's knows everything, Weeden starts game one versus the Philadelphia Eagles.

One thing that has really impressed me about Weasley is his maturity and experiences. Watching him speak in press conferences or on the worldwide leader with John Gruden, it's clear this is no normal rookie. He has professional sports experience. And for those of you who don't fully understand that, let me spell it out for you. He's seen the world of agents and how slimy professional sports can be. He's been through the expectations of grandeur being a number one pick of the New York Yankees. He's seen guys fail, and at a much higher rate than in the NFL since most minor league baseball players never get to realize the dream of being called up to the show. He's no doubt seen guys with huge potential not work as hard as they should. Conversely, the underachiever grind as hard as he can daily to earn his meal stipend, all for the love of the game and chasing a dream. The washouts. The call ups. He himself has failed, otherwise we'd all hate his guts for being a starting pitcher for the Yankees. Nothing is going to take this guy by surprise and I'd bet he has a pretty good measure on what it will take to be successful.

When does training camp start?

Quick hitters

* The Cavaliers season is over, time to wait for the ping pong balls to fall. I can't begin to imagine they will have the luck they had last year, landing the number one and number four picks. If they can get a top four or five slot though, they should be able to get a real difference maker to run with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. Add in a healthy Anderson Verejao, someone or some-two in free agency and we may well be looking at a team that can get that eight or even seventh spot in next years playoffs. Then just keep building...

* Amare' Stoudemire (admittedly one of my favorite players in the association) busted his hand punching a glass fire extinguisher case after the Knicks were spanked in Miami during game two of their playoff series with the Heat on Monday night. Now, he's out for the series. Idiot.

* Ill have more on this in later weeks, but Cam Newton is not "reinventing the quarterback position" as the Charlotte media like to proclaim. Newton had a super rookie season and took teams by surprise with his combination of speed and arm. But, this is the NFL, it won't last. I'm not saying Cam's success won't last, just the way he goes about it. If this kid wants to live to see Brandon Weeden's age, the scramble and "spread" attack is going to be cut down upon in reliance for two reasons: 1. He'll get killed, I don't care how big he is, and 2. This is the NFL, they'll adjust and find ways to stop him. Remember when the wildcat was going to reinvent NFL offenses, or the run n' shoot? The list of "NFL changing"gimmicks is long and distinguished, and Cam Newton is not the exception. Start watching Ben Pig up in Pittsburgh, Panther fans. That's your future at quarterback: big, strong arm, impossible for one guy to bring down, leader. But in Newton's case you can add more athletic to his mobility. That is unless he gets injured a few times from running a gimmick offense that NFL defense's will have figured out. The only constant in the NFL is that defenses will eventually figure you out. Ask the 17-1 New England Patriots.

* Rip Hamilton is starting for the injured Derrick Rose... cause that's an even trade! The Bulls are screwed.  

* Wouldn't it have been funny if the official that Rajon Rondo bumped into would have turned around and uppercut him off his feet? I can dream...

* Pittsburgh lost in the NHL playoffs. Nothing else on that topic. Just glad they're out.

Wrap it up!

Pretty excited that my sister, Danielle @DanielleLyn is coming down to visit this weekend and accompany me to Carolina Rebellion at the Rockingham Speedway. Should be an epic all day event! While there are lots of bands worth seeing (Evenescence, POD, Slash with Myles Kennedy, Chevelle, Korn, even Shinedown) I'm pumped to see one band, the mighty Danes of VOLBEAT! Maybe more on that topic next week.

Unil next time... SEE YA!

METALLICA track of the week

The Thing That Should Not Be

Fat. Heavy. Maybe the heaviest ever. When they crush this live, you feel it in the pit of your stomach as though it all being smashed and forced up. Gross, I know, but it's an amazing feeling! Check this link, the video is a little bouncy but the sound is incredible, it gives you a feel of the Anniversary shows from this past December at the Fillmore and what it was like being in there. Here's Thingy (as it's affectionately shortened by 'Tallica and 'Tallica fans) LIVE from at Fillmore on December 9th 2011! And yes, I was AT this one too!!!!

Did I figure out how to make links work?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Short but sweet

I have a lot to say but not a lot of time to say it this week. So I'll keep it short but sweet.

War Horse

Sometimes things are obvious. Sometimes things stare you in the face and invite you to welcome them into your life. There always seems to be a catch: what if the obvious thing is clearly not the right thing but we don't figure it out until it's too late? But then again, sometimes it is the right thing now and will be then.

"What the hell am I lookin at?!"

"We're at now now, sir."

"What happened to then?"

"We just passed it."

"When will then be now?"


That's a slow pitch softball, but 10 points if you know the movie. That first paragraph felt like it was drifting into that realm... but I digress.

Trent Richardson is obvious. And he's as obvious now as he will be next week, next month, next year and ten years from now. The more I pontificate (you like that word, admit it!) on Thursday's draft, the clearer it becomes. It's so clear to me that I actually got upset this afternoon at rumors that the Vikings are fielding serious offers to trade away the third pick to a team desperate to move ahead of the Browns and acquire the services of Richardson. What may very well be the safest pick in the draft, especially in the number four slot, filling a huge hole for the Browns offense, putting a face to the franchise, giving us a stud to buy jersey's of, someone for the opposition to rightly fear, how "Cleveland" would it be if St. Louis or even Tampa Bay jumps up to three and steals Richardson from Tom Heckert? What could be worse than that? Heckert passing on Richardson.

Scarlet and Oh My God did you see the warmup?!

The scarlet and grey game was great. It was exciting seeing Urban Meyer on the field in Ohio State gear commanding the troops. Braxton Miller looked like I expected him too, a little green but dangerous. Bri'onte Dunn is bigger and faster than I ever thought, and I seen him in high school. Not much in the way of schemes defensively, and for obvious reasons.

I really liked the way the offenses utilized the short passing game. How many times have we watched the Ohio State receivers and backs be given eight to ten yard cushions by defenses in the past? We've all stood in our living rooms or section 28A and screamed "for the love of God, can we hit a slant pattern or someone in the flats?!" We seen a good amount of that Saturday, and while it's basic and some would say simple, it serves a twofold purpose. 1. It takes advantage of the old "take what the defense gives you" cliche'. If you're going to give us a wide open slant, out route in the flat or swing pass to a tailback, even if the worst that comes of it is the five to eight yard cushion, I'll take it. It gets confidence and rhythm in the quarterback, it forces the defense to change what they are doing, not to mention it sets up a very manageable second or third and very short. 2. And maybe most importantly, it gets the ball into the hands of your playmakers in space and allows them the opportunity to show why they were so heavily recruited. Jordan Hall one on one with a linebacker in the flats is a matchup I'll gladly take all afternoon.

But forget the game, the real excitement was in the first five minutes when Urban Meyer brought the players to the block O in the center of the field and started an impromptu one-on-one "move your guy out of the circle" old fashioned hoot and holler drill! With Meyer in the center calling out matchups, the players reacting accordingly with oohs and ahhs and lots of cheering and helmet slapping. Competition at it's finest: You versus me, mano e mano, in front of the entire team, Urban Meyer, the coaching staff and 80,000 fans. I was in my living room bouncing up and down, smiling from ear to ear, cheering along as the matchups were called out. When Urban yelled "Kenny Guitton!" and followed it with "Braxton Miller!" even I went "Ohhhhhhhh!!!!" along with the team from the friendly confines of my apartment! What a few moments and what a way for Urban Meyer to kick off his era at Ohio State. It was almost as if he planned to use those few minutes, right when the television broadcast began on the Big Ten Network to tell the world "You wanna see what we've been doing while you were throwing dirt on and at us? This is what's coming this fall, bowl game be damned. Hope everyone's ready!"

Call me an old stupid jock, whatever you want, I can take it. The fact is some of the best moments of my life, some of the truly unforgettable experiences, happened between the white lines of a football field. I only played from pee-wee through high school, but the love for the sport that was instilled in me by my parents, my uncle, the community I grew up in and played for, did a lot to shape the person I am today. While I'm not one of these guys who thinks "I played football, so I'm smarter at it than you" I am one of these guys who says if you haven't played it you truly cannot and will not understand what you missed. Camaraderie, teammates, the battle. Spending a week preparing for an opponent, learning their tendencies, strengths and weakness. Watching that plan unfold, for better or worse, in the game.

But it's more than that. Every movie about football ever made has tried to nail all the cliche's. But they aren't cliche's if you've experienced them in reality. I wish everyone could experience being in a huddle. The feeling of accomplishment when you make your block, the guy next to you makes his, the fullback crashes the linebacker and you see the tailback fly past you into the endzone. Forget all the celebratory nonsense and posing. It's about what Urban Meyer showed you on Saturday. I got my guy, you get yours, we'll all get ours and feel like kings while we're doing it. Seeing that drill and the enthusiasm took me back. Man that was fun.

If you didn't get to see the "circle drill" on Saturday, the link below will take you to it. Just be prepared to get up and feel the adrenaline start pumping.

You said short!

I did say short, which is why I'm wrapping it up now.

Until next time, SEE YA!!!

METALLICA track of the week

Fade To Black It is classic. It is epic. Before the close, during the pause, when James says to whatever city they are in "Cleveland, CAN YOU FEEL IT?! DO YOU FEEL WHAT I FEEL?!!" is pure goosebumps for this guy! Here's an epic live performance from 2010.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Flirtin' with disaster

Hard to believe the 2012 Scarlet and Grey game is already coming up this Saturday. Times fly's when you're having fun, I guess.

I hope some of you were able to attend this past Saturday's student/faculty BuckID open practice. I gave a brief reminder on this last week. It seemed as though it was going to be a pretty exclusive event and something not to be missed if you had the means to get in. Unfortunately due to the weather, it was moved from Ohio Stadium into the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. For some reason when I first heard they moved it inside to the WHAC, my initial thought was "that would be so much cooler than having it in The Shoe." After seeing the photo's from the various Buckeye websites and the Dispatch, that first premonition was confirmed resoundingly.

Despite my constantly telling you to check them for the best and most in-depth news,
I am in know way affiliated with the O-Zone. But, once again they were all over Saturday's BuckID practice in The Woody. Check for great stories and amazing pictures from this incredible event.

While it was just another spring practice for the team, it was anything but another spring practice for the players. Getting to perform or train in front of fans is no doubt a part of why these guys do it. Of course their is the glory of winning, the camaraderie of being on a team focused on achievement, a chance to potentially make millions in the NFL, and a free education. But don't think for a moment these guys aren't stepping it up another notch, even in practice, when there are fans in the stands. You've heard the phrase "game speed" versus practice speed. And it's not just a cliche', it's true for most athletes on any level.

If you haven't read about the open practice, and definitely if you haven't seen any pictures from the open practice, what Urban Meyer did to Drew Basil was truly fantastic for the fans in attendance and had to be the best way to achieve a kick under pressure for Basil in a practice setting! Open this link to see Tony Gerdeman of the O-zone's photo

Spring fling

There a lots of things to watch for on Saturday during the Scarlet and Grey Game. Here are a few of the things I'm looking forward to seeing:

- Offensive speed from the end of one play to the snap of the next
Along with that, I'm interested to see just how fluid things look at the line of scrimmage and with substitutions. It will be a good indicator of how quickly these guys are absorbing the Meyer playbook. There's going to errors, but a low count on false starts and illegal procedures can be a great tell as to how the offense is coming together.

- Braxton's decision making and accuracy
Yes, it's only the spring game. But a Braxton Miller looking confident, precise and in tune with his receivers will make the summer even more unbearable to wait through.

- The absolute monster on the defensive line
John Simon is easily one of my favorite Buckeye players in the last who knows how many years. I wanna see if anyone on the offensive line can keep him out of the backfield. That's it. Just contain him a few times.

- Team speed on defense
The Silver Bullets flying around. Curtis Grant, Ryan Shazier, CJ Barnett, Travis Howard... We've all read and seen pictures of what strength coach Mickey Marotti did to Ryan Shazier in just one winter. I am dying to see if they look (and I'll bet they will) noticeably faster at linebacker and in the secondary. Don't forget sophomore Michael Bennett coming off the end opposite John Simon.

How much do you miss football Saturday's? Me too. Take advantage this Saturday to whet your football desire and be fully involved. If you can't make it to Ohio Stadium for the game, then try and get down the Lane Avenue after. If you can't make it to the game area, for lack of better term, then turn on WFAN 97.1 for the pre, game and post game broadcasts. And if you're out of town like me, plug in online and get lost for a few hours in Buckeye football. You deserve it.

Quick hits

Watching the Cavaliers on NBA League Pass, around half the time I'm subjected to the other teams broadcast. A few observations I've picked up listening to many opponent broadcasts:

- Most feel the Cavs must get Kyrie Irving an all-star caliber rookie or free agent/trade immediately. Duh.

- There's a lot of "get back" from the announcers due to some of the beatings teams took during the LeBron era, notably the Washington Wizard broadcast from Saturday night. You think we don't let stuff go...

- Fox Sports Net regional channels along with Comcast Sports Net and even the Madison Square Garden Network have a nice treat for the male fans during quarter and tv timeout breaks. She's typically dressed like a "normal chick" and tries to say something hip about the game, but she's really there for us to go "I wanna go to a game and see her in person!" or something like that (you stalkers all loved that!) Fox Sports Ohio has Jeff Phelps. While he is superior to all these lady's in hoops knowledge, understanding what's happening during the game, listening to coaches during timeouts to get an idea of what is going to happen, he's still Jeff Phelps. And they're, well, they're them! And don't tell me about Dionne Whatsherface either, she doesn't count.

- I'm sticking with my draft pick of Trent Richardson. He makes the most sense. He's one of the 4 or 5 elite talents in this years draft. He runs angry. He blocks like he was born to do it. He has soft hands. He's elusive. He's got speed. "Experts" are grading him in the Adrian Peterson range... All of which are reason's why the Browns will probably trade out of the four spot or take Ryan Tannehill. I really really really really hope I'm wrong. Sometimes the answers are really simple and right in front of your face, like Joe Thomas was. Tommy Heckert, Mr. Big Show Holmgren, don't over-think this. Take Richardson at four.

- So apparently since my last blog came out a week ago, Michael Floyd has risen the charts like Pedro Cerrano with a rocket up his ass. Some are saying he may even go as high as nine or ten. I will stick my original plan: If a trade is to be had, and it doesn't involve next years number one, I'd do it. Even if you lose pick 22 and 37, you still walk away on Thursday night with Trent Richardson (God willingly) and Michael Floyd. That's something to be excited about.

- Why is everyone so down on the Browns because of the schedule? Talk about Chicken Little and the sky falling... It's dates and opponents on a schedule. Some of them are against teams that were pretty good last year or have acquired some pretty good players. People, this is the NFL. You all freaked out accordingly when the Browns were crushed in the opener by Pittsburgh in 2007. How did that season turn out? Have some faith in Dick Juron and that Brad Childress can help Pat Shurmur be the best Pat Shurmur he can be. And we have no idea what that even looks like. You, me, we're all Browns fans, how often have we been the favorite in our lifetime?

- The Indians are playing baseball. That's all I got on Cleveland's "major league" baseball team. They did, however, sign Johnny Damon. I'll take anyone right now.

NASCAR? Why not...

I took about a twenty minute ride on Easter weekend with my pops to Kannapolis and Mooresville to see Hendrick Motorsports and DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc) headquarters and race shops. I'm not much of a race fan, yet it does peak my interest on occasion and is something I will watch when any of he Hendrick drivers, especially Dale Earnhardt Jr, are in the front. Back to my point, those shops are amazing! They don't allow tours of the facility on Saturday's, but the team shop and trophy rooms are open to the public.

When entering the Hendrick "team shop/trophy" room, you instantly realize that this is no team shop. Sure, you can get any type of hat, t-shirt, sticker etc of the HMS drivers that you can ever imagine and more, but the items they have on display are truly historic. And the place is HUGE.

Wanna see the car that Jeff Gordon won the first ever Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis in? And not just see it, but be able to stand so close to it that you can't help but not accidentally bump in to it? It's there.

Want to see Jimmy Johnson's car he won the championship in a few years ago, with rubber spatter and dirt from the track still on it? It's there.

Wanna see one of Jeff Gordon's Daytona 500 winning cars, fresh with champagne and soft drink streaks still on the windshield and confetti permanently fused to the car from the sticky mess? It's there. Want to see your dad reach down and start removing tape from the radiator cover of said car despite signs everywhere imploring people to not touch a damn thing? It happened.

And I can't even begin to recollect all the trophies, helmets, gloves, fire suits, artifacts, etc. that are on display at HMS. It was pretty awesome!

Though it is no Hendrick Motorsports, DEI was impressive as well. Coming around a back country bend on a stretch of highway that looks straight out of a Tim McGraw music video, in the distance you can see an ugly beige massive structure emerging. It is Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. Checkered flags on the side walks. Red and black number 3's everywhere.

Upon entry, you are greeted by one of Dale Earnhardt's black "Intimidator" #3 cars and a constant loop (with words and instrumental) of AC/DC's "Back in Black". All seven of his championship trophies are on display, along with historic cars driven by DEI team members, including Dale Jr's Daytona 500 winning ride. Oh, and there's a team shop stuffed with every number 3 item you can ever imagine.

It was definitely a great experience on an absolutely beautiful North Carolina day without a cloud in the sky. Next time, we go when the shops are open and we can take the tours. I can get in to a lot more trouble that way!

Until next time, SEE YA!

Metallica track of the week

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted new members in Cleveland this past Saturday night. The last time the induction was in Cleveland, I was there to see Metallica get inducted. Here is the nights performance of Enter Sandman with former bassist Jason Newsted! (BTW it sucks that James didn't get to do his normal vocal exercises before this performance... and just to rub it in one more time, I was at this!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Embrace The Hate

I have to salute the dudes at Buckeye Empire ( I salute them for gathering the collective thoughts of all Ohio State fans, pulling them together into one pent up bundle of frustration and coming up with a slogan that we can and all should get behind (literally because it's on a t-shirt): Embrace The Hate. Because the hate isn't going anywhere. Even when things seem docile and the focus is on other sports or events, someone, somewhere is going to take a leap at fame and take a shot at the Ohio State football program. It is inevitable. Why not embrace it?

Look at the amount of "we have the REAL story on what it is REALLYhappening at Ohio State" stories and ask yourself: would you rather be a lower rung Big Ten team? Would you rather have loudmouth Bert Bielema pacing your sidelines, leading your team to another Rose Bowl loss or a shot at perfect insignificance? Would you rather be a UCLA Bruin? A Domer? To me, the hate is nothing but recognition of excellence. So, like my guys at Buckeye Empire's t-shirt says, I'm embracing the hate. Bring it to me! I've said I was wrong, apologized and been slightly embarrassed enough since December 23rd, 2010. Now, I say get what you got, pack a lunch and bring it! The bottom line is that they hate us because they ain't us!

By the way, I also have to give kudo's to the guys at Buckeye Empire for having a website under construction yet operating a fully functional web store. It's very tongue in cheek when I say, nice priorities fella's! (literally, laugh out loud) But I say that in jest, their twitter feed alone is enough to make me want one of their shirts. Good work boys!

All of this leads me to this weeks hack writer of an "in-depth" and "fully researched" and filled with completely credible eyewitness testimony expose' that will expose Urban Meyer for what he truly is: an ex-SEC football coach.

That's right, I'm talking to you Matt Hayes. Way to go all out and spend three months investigating these "stories" and putting on your best George Doerhmann impersonation. This was going to be it for you, wasn't it? This was "the big one", the one that was going to catch your cell phone on fire with the big boys of tv calling and begging you to come on and be their star guest and discuss this brilliant work. This was going to win you a Pulitzer for sport journalism. Just start calling you "The most fascinating man alive." Screw that Dos Equis guy! You're Matt freaking Hayes!

Well luckily (?) the majority of the major media types looked right through the garbage and the Matt Hayes story never blew up like he and I'm sure Sporting News thought it would. Urban gave star players preferential treatment? Well, from what I've read from guys who played with him and aren't afraid to say their own names, YOU try dealing with Percy Harvin. And don't forget, if you toss him off the team or he quits, try explaining to the Florida media and fans how a guy like that is no longer on the team.

If you haven't, read Hayes article... if you want. Here's a link:

Just know that Hayes himself went on Paul Finebaum's radio program the day it was released and said he feels the exact same things that Meyer allegedly did (favoritism, hiding failed marijuana tests, roster "manipulation" also known as over-signing)happen at "most major college campuses around the country". To me, this whole thing is a case of exactly what he said on Finebaum when asked what prompted him to research and write the story: "My editor asked me 'How did Florida fall so far so fast?" And instead of saying "Charlie Weis, Will Muschamp, a new offense that doesn't fit the players or the conference, a lack of talent on defense..." he decided to put on his Andy Rooney hat and dig in. The problem is, he didn't expose anything that anyone one who is honest with themselves and the state of college football didn't already know was in some capacity, to greater or lesser extents, already going on.

Way to go Matty. You took the movie "The Program" and adapted it to Florida's championship run in the mid-late 2000's. All the way down to Percy Harvin being cast as Darnell Jefferson.

You know who I want to hear from on this story? The guy I want to tell me what is fact and fiction amidst all this? Tim Tebow. If he's willing to speak, you know he (no pun intended) won't lie about what he has seen. It's funny that Tebow has never had a bad thing to say about Urban Meyer, yet all this was going on right in front of him...

Just to let you know where I stand with Urban Meyer, his recruiting tactics, his attitude, his drive, his willingness to destroy everyone he plays... I love it. All of it! I realize that means we can't recruit a team of Boy Scouts. So be it. With the sanctions levied on Ohio State right now, the way the eyes of the haters are focused on Columbus, begging for one guy to slip up, I trust Meyer and his staff are aware and keeping extra tabs on everyone. They have to, literally, they are on probation.

NFL Draft

Every time I've sat to write the last few weeks, I've told myself "You have to at least begin touching on the draft and who you want to see on their way to Cleveland" and then something else grabs my attention and I say "Ah well, next week." Well, we're running out of weeks!

The big question is who's coming off the board at number four? It seems likely that the Browns will have their choice of some serious quality stock. Justin Blackmon (WR OK ST), Trent Richardson (RB Alabama), Mo Claiborne (CB LSU) possibly even Matt Kalil (T USC). Unless they trade down, the pick is going to be one of these four players. For my money, it's Trent Richardson.

Rather than sit here and tell you all about Richardson and how he looks on film and stats etc, let me just explain the importance that Richardson can play on the Browns offense. Everyone hears "west coast offense" and instantly thinks it's Andre Ware and some variation of the run n' shoot whereby running backs are a dime a dozen and essentially wasted roster spots. Not so, as we seen last season. The tailback plays a huge role in this offense as a triple threat, running, catching and blocking. Richardson does them all and excels. And, love it or hate it, he did it against SEC defenses that were ripe with speed. Colt McCoy, or whoever is the quarterback, has got to have a reliable option in the backfield. I'm sorry, but Montario Hardesty and Peyton Hillis weren't, and in Hardesty's case still aren't, reliable feature running backs. Richardson will be. He will be that work horse back that everyone wants in fantasy football. Most importantly for the Cleveland Browns, he will score touchdowns, something that has been in short supply recently.

You can make a valid argument for any one of these guys. Blackmon is the big play receiver. Claiborne opposite Haden split by Ward is the real revival of the Dawg Pound secondary days of Hanford Dixon, Frank Minnifield and Al Gross. Kalil solidifies the offensive line into a juggernaut with himself opposite Joe Thomas with Alex Mack in between them at the center. I can get down with all of it. I just happen to hope they take Richardson. To me, he's the guy they need the most right now.

The big decision comes at 22, the Browns second first round pick acquired last year from Atlanta for the rights to draft Julio Jones. I think this pick has to be another skill position playmaker, just obviously not the same position as the guy they take at four. Since I stated I'd like to see them bag Richardson, for me the pick at 22 is Michael Floyd (WR Notre Lame). I like Floyd so much that I'd give up my second round pick and whatever else it took to get him in the event he doesn't fall to them and they have to trade up to pick him. He's got good enough speed, so stop it with that argument. His body control is incredible. His hands are like Spider-Man. He's fearless. He's played on a big stage since he started as a true freshman. I realize he's had a few off the field issues, but I say refer back to what I said a few paragraphs above about Urban Meyer's recruiting: they can't all be Boy Scouts if you expect to win.

If at the end of the night on Thursday, April 28th, the Cleveland Browns are on the draft board with the names Trent Richardson and Michael Floyd next to their orange helmet, we should be happy fans this fall.

Spring Reminder

A few reminders:

Saturday, April 14th, if you have a BuckID card (and if you don't, just forget about it because if you could get one you would have it because you need it)there is an open practice at The Shoe for anyone who brings their valid card. Follow @SaturdayAtShoe for more details. Looks like a lot of fun and great access!

Saturday, April 21st at 1:30 is the annual Scarlet and Grey game. If you can't be in Ohio Stadium (like, say, for example, you live in Charlotte, NC) it's being shown live on the Big Ten Network. Check local listings for channel designation. (Yes, I thought I was cool telling you to check local listings for channel designation)

Enough, wrap it up

It's been an interesting week since we last spoke/wrote/read/whatever. I hope everyone had a great Easter and realized I wasn't playing around when I said "Creeping Death" is the story of Passover, along with being a destructive metal force.

I took a ride up to Kannapolis and Mooresville this past Saturday, about a 15 minute hike, to Hendrick Motorsports and DEI Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. Very impressive! If you're a NASCAR fan, you MUST visit the race shops. More on that next week!

Until next time, SEE YA!!!

Metallica track of the week

Since the first time I heard it, this song has captivated me. Dramatic word, yes. But true. Here's 'tallica playing Unforgiven live in Mexico City in 2009. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I'm Not Mad About Anything

All good things must come to an end, and so did the Ohio State Buckeyes basketball season on Saturday night in the Final Four. Some say they choked after losing a thirteen point lead. Some say they looked ahead to Kentucky. Some incredibly blamed Thad Matta. Whatever you want to believe is the reason they lost is fine with me. It doesn't change the fact that it happened and we all had to suffer through Kansas looking like the JV against Kentucky's varsity. I'm not going to sit here and tell you Ohio State could have beaten Kentucky or even given them a better game than Kansas, but I sure wish we would have gotten the opportunity to find out.

Is it goodbye for Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas? Consensus seems to be that yes, they are leaving despite not being ready. I'm not even sure what that means: ready? Have you seen the state of the NBA? Are you telling me Deshaun Thomas and Jared Sullinger, while certainly not being all-stars, couldn't have made considerable contributions to the Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Bobcats and even our own Cleveland Cavaliers? So what does "being ready" mean? To come in to the league and dominate like LeBron did? That's unrealistic. By that standard Anthony Davis isn't "ready". I want these guys back in scarlet and grey as much as the rest of Buckeye Nation. But if they feel entering the draft and getting paid millions, even if it is to be a role player, is what they want then more power to them. Of course, legitimate NBA talent evaluators who spend their afternoons in offices, classrooms and preparing sandwiches will laugh and call them stupid...

Last bit on the Buckeye hoops team, I found this season was a lot of fun. And that term gets thrown around a lot, especially lately, to describe mediocre teams with inferior talent (I'm talking to you Cleveland Indians fan who likes to say "Yeah, but the Tribe is fun to watch!") giving their all despite coming up short. Well this team won. And by fun, I mean it was fun watching them win despite ripping my hair out on several occasions during the Big Ten season. You want to know what's "fun"? Having a great team given little chance to win a season ending road game at Michigan State's Breslin Center, watching them go up there and dual Sparty in a classic that they win at the buzzer. That, my friends, is fun. You know what else is "fun"? Beating Syracuse to go to the Final Four and watching Jim Beoheim make faces like someone took a leak in his coffee and he is being forced to swallow it. That was fun!

So long William Buford. You gave us four years, a rarity in the college basketball world for a player that has your type of potential. Most thought he was a goner after his sophomore year. Good luck young man, we'll miss you!

World Wide Calipari

I'm not going to rant and rag on Kentucky and their what should be vacated national championship. I just have a few simple and honest questions:

How does Calipari pull a crop like that? Which leads to...

Why is World Wide Wes sitting behind the bench as a guest of Calipari? Which leads to...

Why is nobody questioning World Wide Wes sitting behind the bench as a guest of Calipari? You ask why World Wide Wes is a problem, which leads to...

Why is someone who works for an NBA agent, is widely known to be a power player in NBA meeting rooms, the guy who talked LeBron James into leaving his original agent Aaron Goodwin to sign with his boss Leon Rose, on the court hugging Anthony Davis after the national championship game?

So George Dohrmann wants to investigate tattoo's at Ohio State and stalk players at UCLA to tell stories about guys who had bad attitudes and left the program, but World Wide Wes hugging it out with the NCAA player of the year, ON THE COURT, doesn't peak his interest? And I don't mean to bag on Dohrmann exclusively. Where is Dan Wetzel or, God forbid, ESPN? The World Wide Leader even seems unfazed about World Wide Wes and his relationship to the Kentucky program.

Truly amazing. And people wonder why Ohio State fans feel like the media is always out to get their beloved. I'll stand behind this statement until someone can prove different: If World Wide Wes is involved, it isn't on the "up and up". Bank on it.

And maybe the best part of it all is Calipari's complete faith in Wes covering up and making whatever is happening so untraceable that he flaunts their relationship! He gives him tickets to sit behind the bench! Allows him on the court to hug the star player! Almost as if to say "Look at us! So what are you going to do about it?"

Truly amazing.

Radio Girl (it's a Volbeat song, look it up)

Stop complaining about local radio in Cleveland. Stop! If you don't like WKNR and especially Aaron Goldhammer (I personally want to throw up just mentioning their names) then don't listen! And I don't mean that in a righteous, defiant, "I can't hear you" smack talk way, I mean it literally.

Understand how radio works: Clown A, we'll call him "Rizz", gets a show on WRNK in Steubenville. As a professional, it's Rizz's job to go on the air and find what gets a reaction. Maybe acting like a fool and arguing ridiculous points draws the most callers and public talk about his show. Maybe he actually makes a lot of sense and that draws callers to his show and generates buzz. Maybe it's a series of crank calls and flatulence jokes. Whatever it is, whatever generates the buzz, good or bad, is what he will stick with. Notice the key phrase there, good or bad. Because whether you're agreeing with his intelligent points, screaming at the radio because of his smug attitude and unintelligible rambles, or laughing with him as he goes on a wild string of buffoonery, you're listening. And if you're listening, that means the guy is good as a show host, right? No! It means the station can sell advertisements at a higher rate and make WRNK in Stuebenville very rich!

If a program begins to lose ad money, it cannot survive. If you are not listening and talking about the program, they have no leverage when negotiating with sponsors, or sponsors simply say "nobody listens to that show" and pulls their funds. And series of events is how someone like Goldhammer will find himself with his bags packed and on his way to Pawnee for the afternoon drive polka show because it's the only work he can get, faster than you can say "I wanna punch Hammer in the mouth".

Instead, with Goldhammer, he agitates you. Then you rant and rave on Twitter and Facebook and call the show to tell him how much he needs to go. Well guess what? He wins.


I didn't think much of the Reds signing Joey Votto to a ten year deal when I first heard about it. My initial reaction was "good for them" and I moved on with my evening. Then Tony Mazur @TonyMazur had to go and tweet this:

"@TonyMazur The Reds locked Joey Votto up for a decade. The Indians locked Asdrubal Cabrera up until Derek Jeter calls it quits."

And I instantly got upset because Tony is dead on. Nothing more needs to be said. This one statement completely defines the Dolan era as owner of the Cleveland Indians.

By the way, opening day is Thursday.

Finish him!

I hope everyone, despite the outcome, did as I suggested and had a great time watching the Final Four on Saturday night. Being new to Charlotte, I foolishly passed on the opportunity to watch the game with the Charlotte Buckeyes ( My nerves and ridiculous superstitions kept me at home. And while Peanut and I had a great time yelling at the tv and sipping on Red Hook (thanks Dan Patrick show for bringing this product into my life) and a few Olde Mecklenbug Copper's (local brew that a few coworkers turned me on to) it still would have been more fun to be out with the crowd and cheering with the faithful. I regret it. It won't happen again.

And yes, Radio Girl is a fantastic song that mixes 50's pop with heavy metal by a band you need to take an interest in called Volbeat. Do yourself a favor, cut and paste the link and watch the video.

Until next time, SEE YA!

Metallica track of the week:

Creeping Death

With Easter coming this Sunday, how could anything but a story about God not be our track of the week? With lyrics pulled directly from the bible, James Hetfield tells us the story of Passover, right down to the bush of fire! And the song, in my humble opinion, is hands down the best concert opener they do.

Here they are opening the Big Four show in Sofia, Bulgaria with our track of the week! I found a clip that include the "Ecstasy of Gold" classic intro that they've had for some 26 of the 30 years they have been a band. You know me pretty well by now, you know my affinity for sports and love for my teams... nothing, and I mean nothing, beats the moment you are about to see for me. There is no more adrenaline/excitement pumping through me than this moment right here. Sorry, it may be disappointing to you. Can't help it. There is no place in the world I'd rather be!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Final Four, March Madness... don't be scared!

What more can be said about the Buckeyes Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games that hasn't already been said? How about that I sat on the absolute edge of my seat and at times was pacing the living room during the second half of the Syracuse game. Did I mention that my neighbors are now very well aware that the Buckeye logo's on my car aren't just for show?

So onward they go. Off to the New Orleans Superdome to face the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday night, and (God willing) a matchup with Kentucky on Monday night for all the marbles. Like most of you, I was elated. I couldn't stop repeating to myself "Final Four" until I finally fell asleep. And when I woke up Sunday morning, it started all over again.

I think that despite earning a two seed, most find this years tournament run to be a surprise. And in a lot of ways, that factor may be what has made this years Final Four team so special. We heard how great Gonzaga was, and how if they got past Robby Sacre (his face, my fist, they will meet!) and the Bulldogs there was no way they'd beat Florida State or Vanderbilt and especially Syracuse. Well guess what? Here we are, standing tall and climbing ladders to cut down nets.

I can honestly say that once again I have no idea what to expect this weekend. If the Kansas team that played NC State shows up, the Bucks will blow their doors off. If the Kansas team that played in an instant classic with North Carolina shows up, it'll be one of those long, back and forth nights where anything can happen. But isn't there something about that that makes this so great? Would you honestly want it any other way? What's that you say, a nice comfortable but fun 8-10 point win? Yeah, alright, you got me.

Did anyone notice how downright angry Jared Sullinger looked while being interviewed at halftime of the Kansas-NC game? That kids muscle mass, with his footwork and ability, mixed in with that kind of attitude may be the recipe for success in the Superdome. I think Jared Sullinger is looking forward to letting Kansas know what they were missing on December 10th when he was not on the floor. I also think that, while I'm sure he respects his game, Jared Sullinger just may be a little bit tired of hearing about Anthony Davis and his uni-brow.

Chris Jent

How awesome is it that Chris Jent, in his first year on Thad Matta's staff, gets to go to the Final Four? Most of you are too young and only remember Jent as LeBron's shooting coach and as a former Buckeye player. A lot of you don't recall or lived through the 1992 NCAA tournament. Jent was a starter for my all-time favorite Buckeye hoops team.

Chris Jent was part of a starting five that included Jamaal Brown, Mark Baker, Jimmy Jackson and Lawrence Funderburke. Those guys... man! Funderburke was so intimidating. JJ was the player of the year. And when the tournament started, will anyone ever forget them coming out on the court in the shiny grey jersey's and the red, black and mostly grey Nikes? And what a tournament that year! That was year of the Laettner shot vs Kentucky. And down in the Southeast region, played in Lexington, Kentucky at Rupp Arena were the number one seeded Ohio State Buckeyes.

Ohio State played fourth seeded North Carolina in the 7 o'clock game on the Friday night of the Sweet 16. A somewhat close score doesn't truly depict what went on in that ballgame. I still laugh every time I see Hubert Davis on ESPN. The Buckeyes flew high and rocked Carolina right out of the tournament. I wish so badly I could find that picture of Lawrence Funderburke hanging on the rim and pointing at Eric Montross! My friends and I (in 9th grade!) had a massive blowout in my parents living room. We chanted like we were at the game. Dean Smith be damned, our boys were moving on that night!

We didn't even bother to watch the second game in the Southeast regional, which pit Oklahoma State (with Big Country Brian Reeves) and... dun dun dun... Michigan. A Michigan team that started five freshman, that the Buckeyes had ran roughshod over twice in the regular season.

What turned out to be one of the best games of the tournament that year, wound up in the waning seconds of regulation with the score tied and the ball in Chris Jent's hands. Jent stepped to the low block and missed what most would consider a "bunny" of a shot that sent the game into overtime. I vividly remember that moment, the empty stomach feeling when the ball went up and then banged off the rim. True, the game was tied, but you could tell Michigan had the momentum. The 91-92 Ohio State team, as great as it was, never realized their Final Four dream or the countries most anticipated and talked about matchup of them vs Duke. The Blue Devils subsequently went on to beat Michigan in the national championship.

I was never mad at Chris Jent. In Fact, I always felt so terrible for him. Jent was the guy who mopped the floor with his jersey, dove in the stands for loose balls, played the game like it was drawn up to be played a long time ago. For him to be the guy to be blamed for the 91-92 team never reaching its goal, I have always found unfair.

Twenty years later, Chris Jent is a part of an Ohio State team in the Final Four. Some would say twenty years too late. And that's a fair statement, the 91-92 team as a whole will tell you that. And I'd wager not one of them has ever blamed Chris Jent... because it was Randy Ayers fault! (I'm just kidding... maybe.)

Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote an excellent article about Jent prior to Saturday's regional final with Syracuse. Copy and paste the link below to read it... after you finish reading my blog, of course.

Now, I in no way want to get ahead, but...

"You see?! You see?! He's not a machine, he's a man! He's a man!" Duke to Rocky in "Rocky IV"

That's the madness level with which I feel this whole Kentucky hysteria has gotten. Someone needs to remind them that they are mortal! I think anyone (I'm talking to you Rick Pitino!) who wants to beat Kentucky is going to have to beat them in their own heads first. Kentucky will face two of the three out of Louisville, Kansas and, of course, Ohio State. Whichever one of those teams isn't intimidated by the beast that the national media has turned Kentucky into, will have a good shot at beating them. Are they good? Absolutely. But they're talked about like the UNLV team of 1991, as being unstoppable... until they ran into Duke, who wasn't intimidated, found a weakness and exploited it. This Kentucky team is talked about like the 1985 Georgetown Hoyas... who happened to run into Villanova, who wasn't intimidated, and came up with and executed a sinister gameplan. And Kentucky isn't nearly as good or intimidating as that UNLV or Georgetown team.

We likely won't talk again before the championship game on Monday night. Just know that if our Buckeyes are fortunate enough to be in it, and they are playing Kentucky, they need to walk on the floor like stone cold killers! As if they are in no way, shape or form even impressed with Kentucky, regardless of the respect being given on the inside. But I don't want to get ahead, Kansas first!

Football? This is a basketball school, no?

Spring is in the air and sweat is about to be poured out in bucket loads at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center as spring practice gets underway on Wednesday. Obviously, we won't get to see much until the Spring Game. If you're a spring-ball junky like me, make sure you're following on twitter the Dispatch's Tim May @TIM_MAYsports, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises @PDBuckeyes and Brandon Castel @BCastOzone and Tony Gerdeman @GerdOzone of They'll have on the scene reports and links to their stories. They are where I go for the best information!

Anyone else ready to see Braxton Miller become the most dangerous force in college football?

Who's ready to see Jake Stoneburner become a first round draft pick after he has an Aaron Hernandez-like season?

Have you seen how bulked up Ryan Shazier has gotten since Mickey Marotti took over the strength program?

Despite not having a bowl game, there is nothing but pure optimism for this season's team. They'll hit bumps in the road. There will be times when people wonder if Urban Meyer is truly committed and other various forms of nonsense that people who hate Ohio State (and some fans who just want to be a turd in the punch bowl) love to try and make stories out of. Of course it won't be smooth sailing for twelve games. But we're on our way up. Count on it!

The closing moments...

Be sure, whatever you do, and ENJOY Saturday night! Get with some friends, go to a local hangout, invite people to your house, wherever. Just get with some like-minded people, put on your scarlet and grey and have a blast! And if someone wants to be that guy who has to try and temper everyone's emotions by saying things like "I'm just stating the facts, even if they win, Kentucky is too good", well throw his ass out! This is about us and living in the moment!

And please, please, (please!) remember that William Buford is giving his all and wants so badly to be a positive reason that his team wins, for his teammates and for us. I know how we all can get, but look at the name on the front of his jersey. If that kid can do it, he will. And if can't, he'll go down fighting like crazy to get it done. For his teammates. And for us.


Metallica track of the week

One Cause in the end, there can only be one team left standing when "One Shining Moment" is played. And I'm hoping it's THE Ohio State Buckeyes. And of course, the song is a pure thrash classic!

Here's a video of One in Sofia, Bulgaria from "The Big Four" dvd... and by the way, if you've never actually seen this live, like in front of you, I promise it changes your life!