Jack City

My name is Scott Miles. I'm a Cleveland native and a die-hard Cleveland sports fan. I am in my second year at Capital University where I write for the school paper, work in the Sports Information Department, and used to play baseball and golf. This blog focuses on Cleveland and Ohio State sports, along with Capital. Feel free to give me feedback!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I don't have the exact quote, but with precisely 5:27 left in the Browns-Ravens game and with Cleveland driving, clinging to a 14-12 lead, CBS announcer Steve Tasker said, "I hate to mention this, but the Browns have yet to turn the ball over in this game."

I watched the game at Damon's with my friends Brian and Ryan, along with about 75 other Browns fans, and a lot of hatred was hurled at Tasker for that comment. Why? Because that's when teams commit turnovers, right after an idiot announcer says something about it. It's more reliable than the sun rising out of the east every morning.

So it was only a matter of time. Brian opined that we would turn the ball over on the second play after Tasker's moronic statement. The dread grew in my stomach as the seconds ticked off the clock. Kellen Winslow made a great catch to push the ball down to the Raven four-yard line, and on first-and-goal Browns running back Jason Wright was stopped at the line for no gain.

In a blink of an eye, it happened.

Charlie Frye, under pressure, slung a pass in the end zone, where Braylon Edwards was in single coverage against Chris McAllister. But McAllister had the inside position, and stepped in front to make the play.

Interception. Turnover. Stunned silence in Damon's.

Of course we ended up losing. Matt Stover, my second favorite kicker in the NFL (behind Phil Dawson - Stover kicked for the Brownies before Art Modell ripped out the city's soul in 1995) simply does not miss field goals. Even from 52 yards out, I knew the kick would sail true through the yellow uprights. 15-14, Ravens.

As the clock expired, a dejected crowd exited the restaurant. Were it not for Damon's awesome mints, I probably would have driven my car into the Olentangy River. As such, I felt obligated to call and commiserate with my dad, sitting 120 miles away but feeling as frustrated as I was.

I couldn't put into words my emotions, but he knew. "Welcome to my life," he said.

Earlier this week, I painfully came to the realization that the only successful Browns team I can truly remember was the 2002 squad, which went 9-7 and lost to Pittsburgh in that heartbreaker in the playoffs. The Browns made the playoffs in 1994, but I was only seven years old and didn't recgonize the importance of that feat at the time. I can't even remember how many times I've wanted to give up on them because of the constant heartaches they give me.

And through it all, I'm still a fan. We're all still fans. Those are our boys, our family, out there, playing for us. Do we get upset when they don't perform as well as we expected or hoped? Of course. But they're still our team.

Next week, the 0-3 Browns face the 0-2 Raiders at 4:15. You can bet I'll be watching. Like my dad, it's my life too.

Monday, September 18, 2006

First, I just want to thank everybody for their feedback regarding my last post - I'm not sure if the "Chimes" will run something on the editorial page or not, but I sure hope so as it seems that many students on this campus are fed up with how things have turned out here at Capital.

Now, onto the good stuff...

I wanted to put up a post yesterday afternoon right after the Browns game. I really did. But their effort, or lack thereof, Sunday afternoon completely sucked the energy out of me.

In my pregame post, I mentioned several aspects of a football game that a team must be successful in, or at least hold their own, if they want any chance to win. You can't have penalties negating big plays. You need an offensive line that dominates the line of scrimmage and allows you to run your offense. You need to be able to convert your third downs and keep the opposing team from doing so.

Now, the Browns did well in the penalty department, only two for 27 yards. Granted, they didn't have any big plays to get called back anyway, but you can't complain about the team only committing six penalties in two games.

The offensive line, on the other hand...yeesh. Across the country, fantasy football owners are kicking themselves for drafting Reuben Droughns, who has rushed for 59 yards in two games and required an MRI on his shoulder following Sunday's debacle. I mean, Charlie Frye is getting hit in the backfield on handoffs. As my roommate Dan suggested, the Browns need to hold open tryouts for Clevelanders who weigh 300-plus pounds to fill in on the O-Line.

(At the very least, Hollywood will remake it into a movie in 20 years or so - Ineffectual, or perhaps Insignificant.)

Above all, and what frustrates me the most as a fan, is Cleveland's inability to stop the opposition on third down conversions, and failure to convert on its own opportunities. These are plays where you can take the momentum, stall/continue a drive, wear out the opposing defense and give your D an extended break.

Sunday, the Bungles converted 8-of-15 third downs. The Brownies, 2-of-10. As Lee Corso would say, "Whoa!"

Though it's been just two games, Cleveland has done nothing to prove to me that they will put forth a competitive effort this season. I was legitimately excited about this team - a good mix of young talent with proven veterans. Though I didn't really expect a playoff-caliber team, I thought the Browns could hang with the big boys and knock off the weak sisters. That doesn't appear to be the case right now.

(Heck, I'm wondering if we'd make the playoffs in the CFL or NFL Europe. I have my doubts.)

I am, by no means, an NFL coach. However, as a keen observer, here's what I'd do to stop this version of the Titanic from hitting the iceberg:

1. More creative playcalling - How many more times are we going to run up the middle on first-and-10? Why is our backup fullback running sweeps on third-and-one? Why isn't Kellen Winslow touching the ball at least once every possession? Maurice Carthon better get his act together. And soon.

(Nice to see I'm not alone here - check out K2's comments here.)

2. Light a fire under Ted Washington's @$$ - He played decently against the Saints but was a nonfactor in the Bungles debacle. In order for the 3-4 defense to succeed, the nose tackle must occupy blockers and create some push up the middle. That frees up the linebackers to make the tackles. So far, Ted has been as invisible as a 380 pound man in an orange helmet can get.

3. Start the auditions for the 300-pound linemen - Hey, it worked for the Eagles in the '70's with Vince Papale. Why not us?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Today's post isn't for sports, but rather for my fellow Capital University undergraduate students.

I worked until about 5:45 today and my friend Sean called me to go eat at the MDR, our school cafeteria. I wondered aloud how late it stayed open, which turned out to be 6:00. Why the only cafeteria on campus would close at 6:00 (and the Cru Club isn't even open Saturday's) is beyond me, so we hustled over and got in a few minutes before closing.

I wasn't expecting to find much food there since it would shut down soon, and I wasn't surprised to see everything had been picked over. I took two pieces of pizza and sat down by the TV with Sean, Chris and Tyler to watch the slaughter of Brady Quinn and Co. at the hands of Michigan. I finished my first slice and began eating the second when I noticed a long strand of hair by the crust.

I pulled the hair out of my pizza and took it up to the front desk. Mortified, the ID swiper (I have no idea what her official title is, or if she even has one) told me to put the hair down on the table and she would find her supervisor. A few minutes later, ID Swiper came over to my table with a piece of paper and a pen. "Write your name down, you get a complimentary meal."

"Here?" I asked, a bit incredulous.

"Yeah," she replied.

"But I've already paid for all of my meals this year."

"Sorry, but that's the best we can do," she said before walking away.

After she left, I realized I wrote "Scott Miles" on the paper, while my first name is actually "Jeffrey". So I probably won't be getting that free meal, not that 1.) I could use it in the first place or 2.) That I wanted it from the MDR anyway.

Look, I love Capital - I have great friends here, and great opportunities with the golf team, the Sports Information Department and the "Chimes". But things are becoming borderline ridiculous now. I guess it really started when they took away the men's bathroom stall doors last year in S.S. Now, the bathroom's in the dorms won't be stocked with handsoap all year. Our cleaning service has been cut down severely. The MDR has limited it's food offerings, and an FYI: the Cru Club is no longer open on Friday nights like in the past. Also, you have a better chance catching Nicole Richie eating a cheeseburger than you do finding a parking place during the week.

Do you want me to go on? All right, just a few more things because I could fill a novel with rants. The library was shut down Labor Day - we were playing football on the Renner field right next to it, and I couldn't help but notice how many frustrated students were turned away. The Capital Center has reduced its hours. Due to the Mound St. construction, there is only one narrow pathway to get across campus (going through Saylor-Ackerman), and not only does it get congested, it's also tricky to walk through when it rains - just a few swampy puddles, wouldn't you say?

(On a side note, it is fun to mimic the Traffic Report going through there. "Things are backed up at the S.A. passageway, looks like a collision heading northbound. Bunch of rubberneckers have got you slowed down heading both ways, and congestion snakes all the way back from the S.A. Quad to the Campus Center. I would suggest a detour but there are none, save for walking all the way over to College Avenue or Pleasant Ridge. This is Sky Chief Rick Abel, WTAM, 1100.")

The university's motto - "The Education You Want, The Attention You Deserve" - has turned into a putdown around campus, and I'd like to think I helped popularize it. Printer not working in Schaaf's computer lab? "Capital University - The Education You Want, The Attention You Deserve." Random power outage at 5:30 a.m.? "Capital University - The Education You Want, The Attention You Deserve."

Will things turn around here at Capital? Yeah, I'd like to think so. It looks like most of the village idiots have left (including former president Ted Fredrickson, Ted Fehres, Don Aungst and my personal favorite, Shane Carlin). Once we get a handle on this budget deficit (unofficially projected in July at $12 million or so - what did we do, hire A-Rod to teach some classes at the Law School?), Capital should return to a somewhat normal functioning university.

Of course, the classes of 2009 and 2010 don't really know what a somewhat normal functioning university even looks like.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My disdain for Cincinnati has been well-documented (if you're a new reader, click here to see why). Sunday, my hatred will rekindle, as the Browns battle the Bungles in the Queen City.

I hate to label this a must-win game for the Browns for several reasons, such as:

1.) Every team tries to win every game (except, perhaps, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays or Atlanta Hawks). I think it's a stupid expression.
2.) It's only the second game of 16 - in other words, there's a lot more time for Cleveland fans to hurl obscenities and sharp objects at the TV.
3.) Deep down, I still can't take Cincinnati as a legitimate, playoff caliber team.

Still, another Browns loss this week might put me in a state of catatonia. Heck, the only reason I'm functioning now is due to Ohio State's victory over Texas. Saturday and Sunday, I'm praying for my "Football Trifecta Over Southwest Ohio" - Ohio State plays the Bearcats, Capital faces the Quakers of Wilmington College, and of course the Brownies-Bungles.

I'm fairly confident about Ohio State taking care of business, and Capital should beat Wilmington by roughly 50 points or so. But the Browns...

What frustrates me so much about the opening loss against New Orleans is the repeated on-field mistakes that have plagued the franchise since its return in 1999. Penalties bringing back big plays? Check. (Great article about that on the Browns website). Shoddy offensive line play? I'd say five sacks and 85 yards rushing, half coming off Charlie Frye scrambles, would qualify. Failure to convert third downs? The Browns were five-for-12 in those situations. A defense that can't stop the run and can't get off the field? The Saints carved the Browns front line for 156 yards on the ground and converted nine-of-18 third downs. Losing the turnover battle? Two-one edge for the Saints there. No pass rush? No sacks, no pressure on Drew Brees.

So did we learn any positives about the Browns? Well, Kellen Winslow certainly impressed - he brings a fire and tenacity that I've yet to see from any Cleveland athlete, ever. If I'm a cornerback matched up against him, I'm making sure my next of kin have been notified.

(My god, did you see the play where he collided with a DB running downfield, and instead of continuing to run his route, Winslow stopped to throw the hapless corner back to the ground. The ref had thrown his flag to call defensive pass interference, but he picked it up after Winslow destroyed the cornerback. Probably felt sorry for the guy.)

Some other things I liked, in no particular order...Charlie Frye's scrambling ability, though he needs to show more decisiveness in the pocket...The defense holding New Orleans to four field goals, when it could easily have been two or three touchdowns...The play of Ted Washington around the goal line, as well as some nice plays by D'Qwell Jackson at LB.

Will it be enough to beat the Bungles, who manhandled Kansas City Sunday? Like most football games, it comes down to the line play. Our offensive line couldn't open any holes for Reuben Droughns or protect Charlie Frye. Our defensive line put so little pressure on Drew Brees, he had enough time to read War and Peace while sitting back in the pocket before even looking downfield.

It may not be a must-win game, but it's time for the Browns to make a statement that they won't give up on this season.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I have been asked quite frequently this past week my prediction for the Ohio State-Texas matchup. I also have a class assignment that requires me to write a poem. Hmmmm...

The Rematch

A state full of chatter,
Only one thing could matter.
A new dawn now arising,
What could be so mesmerizing?

Last year, oh so close,
To upending our Southern foes.
One question, I'll ask quick -
Why did Tressel stay so long with Zwick?

But that was then, this is now,
A new leaf has taken its bow.
Their queen bee has already stung,
Gone to the pros, bye bye Vince Young.

Ted Ginn, so fast, with speed to burn,
When will defenses ever learn?
Poor Tarell Brown, he had some doubt,
Trouble with the law, now he's out.

Now we've got the best man at the helm,
Making plays out of this realm.
With football in hand, moves so lithe,
Of course I'm talking about Troy Smith.

Our D is young, but so is their O,
At QB, some puny freshman Joe Schmo.
Fierce battles, though, in the trenches,
Big sweaty men - that's where the stench is.

'Tis number one and number two,
Who wins, I've no clue.
But I'm pulling hard for my OSU Bucks,
To beat up on those Texas...

Alright, I changed the last stanza for my class assignment ("A great game it shall be/ The whole country will be glued to the TV") because I don't know if my professor would be cool with ending a poem with such profanity. But you get the point.
Scott's Totally Unbiased Prediction: Ohio State 35, Texas 31

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Something's wrong here.

Today is the first Sunday in September. The forecast in Columbus is overcast and about 65 degrees. College football season began Thursday and picked up in earnest yesterday. And what do we have to look forward to today?

Kentucky vs. Louisville and TCU vs. Baylor.

The perfect time to start the NFL season occurs now. All the tantalizing college football games earlier this weekend serve perfectly to whet our appetites for the NFL's kickoff. Instead, we must wait until Thursday for the Dolphins and Steelers on NBC.

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty depressed about this. Labor Day weekend, a perfect chance for some distractions and reasons to procrastinate on homework (which I'm doing anyway by writing this, but you get the point).

Anyway, here are some other thoughts in my first update for awhile (Blame it on Capital's fabulous I.T. department):

Cleveland Browns: Umm, how can you not be excited about this team, outside of the inexperienced quarterback, a patchwork offensive line, battered secondary, and arguably playing in the toughest division in football?

Seriously though, trading for Eagles center Hank Fraley provides an immediate impact up front for the Brownies. Fraley's a proven veteran with big game experience in Philly - though he's coming off of an injury, he's only 28 years old and has started 71 games.

As impressive is the fact that coach Romeo Crennel and GM Phil Savage remain committed to winning now. After "The LeCharles Situation", they could easily have packed it in, said they gave it their best shot and blame the lost season on injuries (like past regimes). Instead, Crennel and Savage are out looking not only for guys to fill out the roster but actually help the team win, a noble concept for Cleveland teams.

In other news, Lee Suggs received his pink slip. I'm a little disappointed we couldn't trade him, but most likely other teams were scared off by his failed physical with the Jets. Suggs has tons of potential, but I think my 86-year old grandmother is healthier and more durable than the Virginia Tech grad. Plus, the emergence of Jerome Harrison in camp made Suggs expendable.

OSU Football: Though I didn't get much of a chance to watch yesterday's game, what I saw (in the first half) reminded me of NCAA Football '07 on PS2. Just send Teddy Ginn (or Theodore, as my roommate and I like to call him) deep on every play and let Troy Smith fling it as far as possible. I average about 300 yards receiving with Theodore in the game, and there's little doubt in my mind that he could do that in real life too.

Now comes the big showdown with Texas, who laid a beating on North Texas in their season opener. Yeah, I think I'll find the time to watch that game.

Capital Football: Rocky Pentello has an absolute laser for an arm and will likely hold most of the important OAC passing records at the end of the year. Derrick Alexander, a junior reciever who transferred in this year, can absolutely fly down the field. Jeremy Mulkey's a strong, fast back who only rushed for four touchdowns yesterday. And the defense, ranked in the top-10 last year, brings back nine starters.

As yesterday's 57-7 beatdown of Wittenberg showed, this season could be as much fun and enjoyable as last year. After a cupcake September schedule, the Crusaders will earn their stripes during the brutal October stretch (night game at John Carroll, at Ohio Northern, home vs. Otterbein, then at Mt. Union). There's a reason why we're ranked No. 5 in the country, though, and I have a feeling those other schools (well, except Mt. Union) are a little worried looking at the matchup with Capital.

Cleveland Indians: They've won five straight and nine out of ten. It's the most stupid rhetorical question in sports, but I'll ask it anyway: Why haven't they played this well all year?

I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here, so I'll cut short my diatribe against the Tribe, but this is the most frustrated I've been about the Indians - ever. Actually, I get pissed off just thinking about this failure of a season, so I'll stop now.

So I'll end this column on a positive note; the Reds are fading faster than Tom Cruise's popularity, and the Indians could have a better record than them. Heck, even the Devil Rays and Royals would compete for the Wild Card if they were in the NL.