Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Christmas in Berea Again

 "Yes, somewhere in Hell, Art Modell is still smiling."

"I'm not much for beating a dead horse, except of course for the pure pleasure of it." - Groucho Marx

In one week I've gone from a staunch defender (or, at least, a guy who has been preaching patience and the need for more time to fairly evaluate) to a guy who could care less if this whole new Browns organization goes out the door yet again.

Merry Fucking Christmas.

My God    deep down in the cockles of my soul (or even in that sub-cockle area Dennis Leary sings about), I do know that if we don't stick with someone for a number of years, then we will never be good again.

Or good for the first time, depending on your perspective.  

I know this fact in my bones, the way that I know that the sun will come up tomorrow everywhere in this wide world except, of course, in Berea.  I know this is a fact of football, and that starting over will just mean more running in place, but...


That's a big but.  That's the biggest, heaviest, sloppiest "but" you are ever going to see this side of Kim Kardashian's sex tape.

But the way this whole concussion thing has been handled    on top of a few other "little things" that have been bugging the ever loving shit out of me as this football season has progressed    now has me completely lost, and has also lost me completely.  I am now back into the "show me" mode that each and every Browns organization has prompted in me since 2001.  Only this time it happened in record time, and in an unprecedented fashion.  Because if you had told me a week ago that I'd want to metaphorically punch Mike Holmgren and Pat Shurmur in the face, I'd have called you crazy. 

Well, I'd have called you crazier than normal.


That is Rule #1 for all sports execs and coaches.  Sports really, really, really are not brain surgery, and so therefore lying is easily spotted.  We all can see with our own eyes what happens in sports, and it doesn't take playing or coaching for 20 years to be a fair evaluator of competency in sports management.  And even it did take that, it all just happens to be on video in case we missed it.

This goes for pretty much everything in sports, but it especially goes for what happened with Colt McCoy and his concussion non-exam against the Steelers.  So given that fact of life-on-video, lying is the not only the worst thing you could do when you are a sports exec or coach, it's also the dumbest thing you could do.  Everyone can see that you are lying as if there were a giant sign about your head flashing "FUCKING LIAR---THINKS YOU ARE STUPID!!!"  in bright orange and brown neon.

When sports execs and coaches lie to me, that's a sign that they are not the brightest bulbs on the tree, which is an especially apt analogy this time of the year.  That is a sign that it's time to jump off the bandwagon, even if it's going so fast you are sure to break a leg.  That's a sign that the people running the team don't really know what they are doing to at least one extent or another.

That's a sign that it is time to stop caring    yet again!  That's a sign that it is time to go back to being from Missouri.

I haven't cared about the Browns since sometime during the Butch Davis regime.  All the hopes and dreams that an Art Modell-less expansion franchise engendered in me were stretched thin by Carmen Policy and Dwight Clark, then beaten into a teeny-tiny fractured pulp by Butch Davis and Pete Garcia.  And from that moment on, I have not cared one whit about the Browns up until the day that Mike Holmgren hired Tom Heckert and then, more importantly, finally fired Eric Mangini.

And then---I cannot express this plainly enough---for a brief, shining moment, I had more optimism about this Browns organization than at any point in my entire four decades on this Earth.  I really thought, "My God, for the first time in my lifetime football men are running the team, picking the players, and coaching them."

And now, less than two years later, and less than one year after they hired the coach, I now look at the Browns like Dwight and Carmen and Art and Butch and Eric never left.  Forget the product on the field for a moment, we again have people so clueless that they believe we cannot see past the simplest of base lies.  We again have people who want to shit in our hands and tell us Merry Christmas.

And all of this is taking place while the one guy I respect, Tom Heckert, has so far produced the two finest Browns drafts in my memory.  So even though I think Heckert, whatever faults he may have, is the finest GM we have ever had, I am still no longer interested in giving anyone any benefits of any doubts whatsoever.

When it comes to the Browns, I am back to being from Missouri. 

Show me.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Quick---Don't Think About An Elephant!

William F. Livingston: One of the many faces of journalism

(*Edit 3-29-2013 - I have no idea why this particular post is generating so much traffic, but it's one of the most insular and specific posts on the site, being essentially about a grumpy old sportswriter from Cleveland whom you have likely never read or even heard of, and it is the only sports post I have ever really done, as generally politics and culture are more what I tend to rant about.  Read it if you please, but check out the rest of the site here.  I have much better stuff than this lame entry)

Exactly five days after telling us to stop making heroes out of athletes, Billy Livingston, grumpy old man extraordinaire, wrote a new column that....wait for it....declared Browns left tackle Joe Thomas a hero for bestowing upon the Cleveland Browns the rare honor of consenting to cash 84 million dollars worth of their checks.

Do I really need to go into detail as to why this guy is such a putz?  Does this really need to be a 1200 word diatribe in order to get my point across?

No, I didn't think so.

(EDIT: Today Billy Boy Livingston wrote an even more hackish column in which he "admitted" to making some mistakes in the past.  

"What were these mistakes," you ask?  Mainly typos.  

Yeah, that's right, Bill Livingston thinks his greatest in-print mistakes are limited to typos.  But as you can see above, or see here, Billy Boy has made some doozies that he has apparently forgotten all about.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Game of Thrones Review: New and Improved?

"Why does this keep happening to me?"

There have been numerous great books (and even mediocre books) made into great movies over the years. In my life, however, I have only seen one film that successfully managed to capture a book both in spirit and in fact.  That film, Lonesome Dove, a mini-series made from the book of the same name by Larry McMurtry, took liberties with its source material, as every filmed adaption must, but it was, by and large, eminently faithful to the text from which it came.  A great number of scenes were transferred from page to screen mostly intact, while at the same time the spirit and character (and characters) of the story were exponentially increased simply by the seemingly simple task of thoughtful and talented people taking great care to make sure every image and characterization to be filmed was laden with as much subtlety and subtext as can be packed onto a television screen.  It took every one of 384 minutes, but a talented cast, working from a detailed script, managed to convey all but the barest handful of elements and themes---the spirit, if you will---of a massive, sprawling literary work.

The thing about book to film adaptations that has always mattered to me is spirit.  This has changed over the years, as cable stations such as HBO have been able to spend dozens of hours adapting novels of various genres, but, by and large, what I am looking for in any adaptation is that it remains faithful to the spirit of the novel, regardless of whether it need take liberties with the text.  Characters can be excised and/or combined; events can be skipped or compressed; locations can be added or deleted with abandon---but if the show/film sticks the tone and message of the source material, then I am usually inclined to judge it favorably.  Slavish recreation rarely is a virtue in and off itself, while massive changes carefully wrought can often convey the themes and subtext of a novel as well, if not better, than the book itself did.  Certainly the early Harry Potter movies, with their maladroit beat-for-beat recreations, are an example of the former, while Lonesome Dove, or The World According to Garp, another long time favorite and one of Robin Williams first movies, are excellent examples of the latter.  

The question here is, which of these is HBO's Game of Thrones?  And the answer just may be that it is both at once.  It may just combine the best of both mediums.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Terriers: The Best Show We Never Saw

"Later, let's talk about that really painful thing that happened to you once... 'kay?"

Like everyone else in the world, save one million very smart or very lucky people, the FX show Terriers wasn't even on my radar until it had nearly disappeared over the horizon, never to return.  Mrs. Schmoker, however, was one of those lucky (err... smart) one million.  She had watched it almost from the beginning, and about halfway through the run she told me that she "got a ride with a trickster in a Javelin, man, to a town down by the sea"    and she made sure I understood that I was fucking nuts if I didn't join her there.  Thus I really had no good reason not to start watching Terriers before it was gone; I merely procrastinated until it was far too late.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Send in the Clowns

The Face of Entitlement and Naivete?

 Today I read a truly nauseating piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by the immortal and puerile William F. Livingston.  While this rambling column was ostensibly a shot at the NCAA (I think), Billy Boy could not but help taking equal shots at a handful of teenagers---both for not living up to Billy's own personal vision of morality and for not being more mature than the middle aged men in suits who run the institutions to which these kids are indentured. 

Basically, Billy was pissed that a bunch of black kids sold their golden panties in order to purchase some body art.  The panties in question (and other assorted paraphernalia), however, were the kids own possessions, awarded to them by The Ohio State University for their excellence in money making.  Legally, they are free to do what they want with them.  But while the kids were free to burn their golden panties, by NCAA by-laws (written by the NCAA for the benefit of the NCAA, with no input from students, let alone from athlete-students) they were not free to sell them.  And so, in a move more blatantly hypocritical and self serving than any I have seen in a while, the NCAA ruled that the kids were suspended for five games.

Not the next five games, however.  You see, the very next game the kids were scheduled to play in was a BCS Bowl game, upon which rested tens of millions of dollars for a number of NCAA institutions.  So the kids were suspended for the first five games of the next season.  That way they could still go out and sweat out enough money this past week in order to pay for the next set of golden panties that Ohio State already had on order.

Meanwhile, another kid playing in yet another multi-million dollar game, Cam Newton, was not suspended at all after it was learned that his father had tried to extort a couple of hundred grand out of any school which wished for the future Heisman winning quarterback to come and earn for them.  The NCAA declared Newton blameless, ignorant of wrong doing, and eligible to keep on showin' them the money.  And how did the NCAA prove that this kid was blameless and ignorant?  Well, because they said so    that's how! 

What?  You need more than that?  You think there might be a conflict of interest going on here?  Well, who the fuck are you    Roy Cohn?