Browns Adding Players At Important Positions

Browns’ GM John Dorsey has been full of surprises during this NFL Draft.  Well, surprises to the fans and draftniks out there, at least.

Our guess (and reports have indicated this) is that Dorsey has known for a long time who he wanted and who he would take with both the first and fourth picks, and because they were different players than the national media reported, some people are disappointed.

We have always believed we will trust the professional talent evaluators until they give us a reason not to.  That’s why we won’t second guess the front office’s choices this week.

Besides, we like Baker Mayfield as a quarterback.  Yes, we would have preferred UCLA’s Josh Rosen, but said we wouldn’t have a problem with him, Sam Darnold, or Mayfield.

As for the pick being a reach, most mock drafts we saw had Mayfield going no later than at pick #3 to the Jets, so taking him two picks earlier isn’t a big deal.

The Heisman Trophy winner is accurate and has a strong arm.  The biggest rap on him is his height, so he most definitely can become an elite quarterback.  That said, we would still have him sit most, if not all of his rookie season, so he can learn the pro game before taking the field.

He’s 23 years old, not 28 or 33, so if he doesn’t play this season, it is quite possible he could be the Browns’ QB for 10-15 years if his performance merits.

In our opinion, the next most important position on defense after pass rusher is cornerback, so we understand the selection of Denzel Ward at #4.

Many thought the Browns really liked NC State pass rusher Bradley Chubb, but we think the Browns’ brass were impressed with Emmanuel Ogbah, and decided to go with someone who can guard wide receivers.

This goes along with what Dorsey did in free agency, when he added TJ Carrie, Terrance Mitchell, and E.J. Gaines, pretty much turning over the position.

Besides, we remember the last time the Browns were a perennial contender, their defense was built around two shutdown corners, Hanford Dixon and Frank Minniefield.

Friday night, Dorsey added to one of the team’s strengths selecting Austin Corbett, interior lineman from Nevada.  This was the Browns taking the best player left on their board.

After correctly passing on Saquon Barkley in round one, by taking Nick Chubb from Georgia.  Chubb will join Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson to form a running attack Hue Jackson can have confidence in.

WR Antonio Callaway (4th round) has had all sorts of issues in his collegiate career, but if (and that’s a big if) he can stay out of trouble, he has first round talent.

LB Genard Avery is great get in round five.  He should play in the middle and could be a leader on special teams.  He should be a contributor in 2018.

As we said previously, until given reasons otherwise, we trust the Dorsey and his staff of talent evaluators who have a proven track record.  We also reject the notion that Mayfield and Ward were reaches.

Both of them were considered among the best, if not the best player available at their respective positions.

So relax Browns’ fans.  They are better today than on Wednesday before the draft started.  The bigger question is will the head coach get the most out of this group?

JD

 

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The Remarkable Mr. James Strikes Again

For all the frustration Cleveland Cavaliers fans have had in the regular season since winning the NBA title in 2016, this first round series against the Indiana Pacers may top all of it.

The wine and gold took a 3-2 series lead in the best of seven series thanks once again to the heroics of LeBron James, the sport’s preeminent player.

James won the game with a three pointer at the buzzer.  He did that after playing 41 minutes, scoring 44 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and somehow had eight assists, even though for the most part, his teammates couldn’t make a shot.

The Cavs shot just 41.3% for the game, and if you take away James’ 14 of 24 from the floor, they were under 34% on the night.

It makes the assist total even more impressive when all of the other Cavs besides James combined to make 17 shots.

We are sure in his heart of hearts, James is thanking Kyle Korver, who hit two huge threes in Game 4 to help tie the series, and last night was the only Cavalier who could seemingly make a shot, scoring 19 points on 6 of 11 shooting, including 5 of 9 from beyond the arc.

Take Korver out of the mix, and the rest of the Cavs knocked down just 11 field goals in 40 attempts.  That’s 27.5%!

JR Smith made as many shots as we did, but he harassed the Pacers’ Victor Oladipo into a 2 for 15 night, as part of a gritty defensive effort by Tyronn Lue’s team, particularly in the third quarter when Cleveland outscored Indiana 32-17 to turn a seven point halftime deficit into an eight point lead heading to the fourth quarter.

Outside of game one, when Indiana recording an 18 point win, the other four games have been decided by three, two, four, and three points.

That’s a close series.

And when a series is that close, the determining factor is usually in favor of the team with the best player, and that would be the Cavs, who also became the first team in the series to win two straight games.

James is averaging 34.8 points per game on 55% shooting, and has also made 47 of 57 free throws, as he is constantly attacking the basket.

He’s given the team a lead in the series heading into game six, despite Kevin Love shooting under 33% during the first five games, and the entire rest of the team shooting under 40% (39.3%) in this playoff season.

Love did play a solid defensive game, particularly on the perimeter, where he isn’t supposed to be able to stop anyone.

Besides Love, no other Cavalier is averaging more than 10 points per game, and Love is at just 11.8, although Korver is close at 9.8 per contest.

They are leading despite their starting point guard, George Hill, missing the last two games, and not being able to finish two others.

The three young players acquired at the trade deadline are combining to score just 17.4 points, and Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson have hit just 23 of 55 shots (42%) from the floor.

You have to think at some point, the shots will start to fall.  We don’t believe these guys are that bad.

Despite all that, the Cavs can eliminate the Pacers and advance to the second round Friday night in Indianapolis.  And they are in that position because they have the best player in the world.

Last night was just another reminder of that.

JK

Tribe Isn’t Walking, And They Aren’t Scoring

The Cleveland Indians had one of baseball’s best offenses a year ago, finishing third in the American League in runs scored.

They were second in the AL in on base percentage, slugging percentage, and walks taken, and ranked eighth in the Junior Circuit in home runs.

Although it is very early this season, the Tribe is 12th in the American League in runs scored.  While certainly the cold weather has been a factor, Detroit and Minnesota have both scored more runs per game than Terry Francona’s club, and they have played in pretty much the same climate.

One area in which the Indians have slipped greatly so far this year is in patience at the plate, as they are currently second last in the AL in walks taken.

While some people may point at the absence of walk-master Carlos Santana in the batting order for the drop off, we would point out than Santana’s replacement, Yonder Alonso, is third on the team in walks, behind Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis.

The lack of walks is a big reason the Cleveland offense has been largely dependent on the long ball for scoring.  If you can convert three or four outs into walks during a game, particularly after a base hit, you have a rally going.  And the more rallies a team has, the better chance of getting that hit which scores a run and keeps pressure on the opposing pitcher.

Look at Francisco Lindor, for example.  Last year, he walked 60 times, striking out in 93 at bats.  This year, he has fanned 21 times, second on the squad, and walked just six times.

Edwin Encarnacion is another case in point.  Yes, the slugger struck out 133 times a year ago, but he balanced that by taking 104 bases on balls.  This season, he has walked just six times while striking out a team leading 24 times.

Platoon outfielder Austin Jackson joined the patience at the plate club last year for the Indians, drawing 33 walks in 318 plate appearances, one for every 9.6 at bats.  His replacement, Rajai Davis, has walked just twice in 35 times at the dish.

And while Michael Brantley doesn’t strikeout a lot, he did draw a walk every 12.1 plate appearances a year ago, compared to just one walk in 48 times up this year.

Add in the two youngsters on the Tribe, OFs Bradley Zimmer, who has fanned 19 times vs. just two walks, and Tyler Naquin, who has drawn just two bases on balls against 11 whiffs, and that isn’t helping the offense keep the line moving.

Conversely, the Indians’ leader in walks is Jose Ramirez with 13 (6 strikeouts), and the switch-hitting All Star is hot after a slow start, and is looking like the Ramirez from 2017.

That Cleveland is 5-6 when they score three runs or less is a tribute to the tremendous job the pitching staff, led by the starters, have done.

No doubt it is early, and a few weeks from now, the lack of walks could very well have corrected itself.  We are sure that hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo is stressing patience at the plate, and it will come to fruition soon.

Instead of being aggressive at the plate, maybe the Indians need to be more selective.  Drawing walks will start extending innings and will lead to putting crooked numbers on the scoreboard.

MW

 

 

Is Lue The Right Man For This Cavs’ Team?

As the Cleveland Cavaliers head into another “must win” game tonight against the Indiana Pacers, down 2-1 in the best of seven series, the heat is getting turned up on coach Tyronn Lue.

Many people, including us, have been critical of Lue’s substitution patterns and the wine and gold’s defensive scheme, which centers on having players who can defend multiple positions.

He has had problems incorporating the four players GM Koby Altman acquired at the trade deadline into the mix.  Outside of Larry Nance Jr., and we are stretching it with that, none of the new guys appear to know what they are supposed to do on a night in, night out basis.

However, when Lue took over the head coaching reins midway through the 2015-16 campaign, he took over a pretty much a veteran unit.

The only younger guy he inherited was Matthew Dellavedova, who was in his third NBA season, and was a backup point guard and defensive specialist.

Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and Iman Shumpert were in the fifth NBA seasons, and they all understood what their roles were.  Irving was the second option offensively, capable of explosive performances.

Thompson and Shumpert were defensive players based on hustle and grit.

The primary bench options on that team were veterans like Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, and Mo Williams.

Lue’s biggest move upon taking over the team was to get them to play at a faster pace.  He famously said the Cavs were not in shape to play the up tempo game he wanted.

Now, switch to 2017-18, and the Cavaliers are a much different team.

Yes, there still is experience with James and Kyle Korver (15th season), JR Smith (14th),  Jose Calderon (13th), and Jeff Green and George Hill (10th), but after the deadline moves, there are also a lot of younger players in the rotation.

Nance is in his third year, while Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson are both in their fourth seasons, and of that trio, only Hood has been on a winning team prior to coming to Cleveland.

Cedi Osman is a rookie, and although he has shown promise that he can contribute to this team, the coaching staff seemed bothered by his presence, giving him real minutes only after the trade, and many times that was due to necessity.

What we are trying to say is Lue didn’t have experience as a head coach in developing young players, and that’s what was needed after Altman turned over the roster.

The coaching staff appears to be throwing these young players out there and seeing if they can figure it out, that doesn’t always work.

At least one media member has pointed out that the four new guys played better before the coaching staff started giving them instructions and direction.

Remember the two games right after the deals?  The road wins over Boston and Oklahoma City might have been the two best wins of the season for Cleveland.  The newcomers just went out and played basketball.

Even the veterans who started the season, save for Dwyane Wade, looked lost at times, not sure of what they were supposed to do.  Jae Crowder didn’t look remotely like the player he was in Boston, but he’s contributing for Utah right now.

NBA head coaches are used to change a team’s culture, which Lue was brought in to do in 2016.  Other times, they are needed to coach, to develop younger talent.  That’s wasn’t Tyronn Lue’s job when he took over.

But that’s what is needed now.

JK

Cavs Win, But Look Shaky In Doing So.

Many people around northeast Ohio, and national pundits too, had it as a foregone conclusion that the Cleveland Cavaliers would win the Eastern Conference and return to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year.

Instead, they are lucky to head to Indiana with a split in the first round series after winning Game 2, 100-97 at Quicken Loans Arena.

And they needed a virtuoso performance by LeBron James to do it.

James had 46 points (on 17 of 24 shooting), 12 rebounds and five assists, scoring the Cavs’ first 16 points helping Cleveland have a 33-18 lead after the first quarter.

The Pacers spent the rest of the night slowly but surely getting back in the game, but came up just short.

Still, if you are a fan of the wine and gold, you can’t be feeling all warm and fuzzy after this one.  Only two other Cavaliers, Kevin Love (15 points) and Kyle Korver (12) finished in double figures as coach Tyronn Lue used a series of odd lineups in this one.

First, Lue changed the starting lineup, but went smaller, going with JR Smith, Korver, and George Hill with James and Love.

It worked in the first quarter because James went berserk offensively and Victor Oladipo picked up two quick fouls and missed much of it.

But Lue’s move, as is most of his strategy benefits the team on the offensive end, and he continues to ignore the defensive side of the game.

Once the Pacers’ star got back in the game, it became one as for the second straight game, Cleveland struggled to contain him and his backcourt mate, Darren Collison, as the duo combined for 38 points on 16 of 29 shooting.

The Pacers started getting back in the game by using Myles Turner inside (18 points on 7 of 12 from the floor), but the Cavs seemed content to allow this as their two legitimate inside defenders, Tristan Thompson most notably, did not play.

Have you ever seen a team give up so many open layups in the half court game than the Cavaliers?

Hill got into foul trouble as well, although he played well, but the coach allowed him to pick up his fifth foul late in the third quarter instead of sitting him after his fourth.  Jordan Clarkson and Jose Calderon replaced him, but weren’t effective, so Cleveland played much of the fourth quarter without a legitimate point guard on the floor.

Larry Nance played 24 minutes, the only member of the bench to play more than 20, and he took just one shot and had five rebounds.

The Cavs were at home and their bench played tentatively, what is going to happen when they visit Indianapolis?

Rodney Hood hit a couple of shots in the first half, but after intermission lost the ball twice trying to dribble.  Clarkson isn’t playing with the confidence he showed after coming to Cleveland, and the Pacers made runs when Calderon was in the game.

Right now, the offense and defense seem to be disjointed, the Cavs play like there is no philosophy or structure on either end of the floor.  We understand the roster upheaval and injuries have led to constant changes in who is playing, but what does it say that the wine and gold don’t have a system to fall back on?

If the Cavs want to advance to the next series, they will need someone besides LeBron James to start playing at peak efficiency.  Right now, with the system the team is playing with, we aren’t sure that can happen.

JK

 

 

 

 

 

All Game 1 Loss Means Is Game 2 Is Must Win

Going into the Cavaliers’ first round series against the Indiana Pacers, our main thought was the unknown.  We had no idea if the Cavs would come out and play great, or if the moment would be too much for those players without a significant amount of playoff minutes.

It turns out the latter was more the truth than anything else.

Does this mean we think the Cavaliers are doomed to be eliminated in the first round this season?  No.  However, it does mean that they better win Wednesday night, because you can’t lose the first two and then go on the road.

First, the Cavs have to come out with a more aggressive mind set.  They were far too passive in the first quarter, and that stage was set by Tyronn Lue, and the team’s two best players, LeBron James and Kevin Love.

Love took just eight shots for the game, the same total as Rodney Hood, and just one more than Jeff Green, George Hill, and Larry Nance Jr.

And James didn’t attempt his first shot until the first quarter was almost over.

The coaching staff has to establish both of these guys right from the get go.  They are the primary scorers for the Cavaliers.

Prior to game one, we figured the Pacers would leave Green open and if he made open threes, it was something they would live with to slow down James driving to the basket.

Green wound up 0 for 7 from the floor, three of those misses from behind the arc, and the wine and gold didn’t seem to have a Plan B.  Of course, no one was shooting well from distance as Cleveland made just 8 of 34 attempts.

Which is another rub, quite frankly.

The Cavs like to shoot threes.  They attempted the 5th highest total in the NBA this season.  They are usually pretty proficient as well, ranking 6th in the league in three point percentage.

However, when the long distance shots aren’t falling, they don’t do anything to adjust, they just keep letting them fly.  In a game like Sunday’s, why not attack the basket more often?

No team in the NBA is more reliant on their offense for their defense than the Cavaliers.  And when they are missing threes, that leads to long rebounds, and in turn, that leads to fast break opportunities.

As we have seen over the last two seasons, the Cavs strength is NOT defending in transition.

A problem for Lue is reflected in this question:  Who is the Cavs’ third best player?

The fact there is no definite answer to this question makes it difficult in determining substitution patterns.  Is it Jeff Green, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr, George Hill?

When the trade were made in February, we are sure GM Koby Altman thought it would be Rodney Hood, but he has been hurt a lot, and has had a problem playing with a LeBron James led team when he has been available.

Who can Lue count on behind James and Love?  It makes it a problem in deciding the starters as well, because so many of the players very been inconsistent this season.

So, Lue usually makes his decision based on offense, which is why Green got the nod, presumably because he’s a better three point shooter than Nance or Tristan Thompson, and they want the floor spread for James.

As the old saying goes, defense is a constant.  Unfortunately, that’s not a good thing for Cleveland.  It also explains games like Sundays, though.

It’s not time for panic, but it is okay to be concerned.  The game one loss means Wednesday is as close to a must win game as an elimination contest.

That’s something we aren’t used to over the last four seasons.

JK

 

 

Looking At The Tribe’s Catching

The Cleveland Indians’ best prospect, and quite frankly, one of baseball’s best prospects is catcher Francisco Mejia.

Because of his presence at Class AAA Columbus, it seems like every time either Yan Gomes or Roberto Perez have a few hitless games in a row, fans are yelling for Mejia to be called up and inserted into the lineup.

Those people do not understand what the Tribe organization values in a catcher, nor do they realize Gomes and Perez aren’t the offensive zeroes they are viewed as.

If you understand baseball at all, you would know the Indians value defense first behind the plate, and that includes pitch framing and handling one of the premier pitching staffs in the sport.

We feel Perez is the better player and should get a higher percentage of the playing time, but the way Terry Francona handles the duo keeps them fresh at a very physically taxing position.

Last season, Gomes had the higher OPS at 708 (Perez was 664), but the pair combined for 22 HR and 94 RBI, not bad for two guys who combined to hit under .230 combined.

We like Perez better because he has a better eye at the plate.  Even though he strikes out a lot (71 Ks in 217 at bats), he also works counts better and walked 26 times, five less than Gomes, even though the latter had 135 more plate appearances.

Perez also guided Indians’ pitchers to a better ERA at 3.22, compared to Gomes’ 3.36, both excellent figures.

Both catchers are excellent against the running game, throwing out over 40% of the runners trying to steal against Cleveland pitchers.

Both are also very good in blocking pitches, as the duo had just 9 passed balls last season, and the team ranked second to Boston in the fewest number of wild pitches.

Watching Tribe games makes you appreciate Gomes and Perez when you see Cleveland baserunners advance on pitches in the dirt.

By the way, this season, Tribe catchers have combined for 3 HR and 6 RBI, and both hit game winning home runs this week.

Getting back to Mejia, quite frankly we do not want him to continue catching anyway.  He’s not a big guy at 5’10” and 180 pounds, and most scouts feel his bat is elite.  Why subject him to the wear and tear that the position takes on these guys.

Outside of his season at Lake County as a 19 year old, where he hit .243 with 9 homers, the lowest batting average the switch-hitter has had was .282 when he was 18 at Mahoning Valley.

He doesn’t strike out a lot, and the front office sees his value as a hitter, because they are investigating a position change for the youngster, who won’t turn 23 until after the season ends.

Even if they weren’t thinking about moving Mejia from behind the plate, the way the organization thinks about the spot would keep him in the minors.  He’s not ready to handle a big league pitching staff, especially one as accomplished as the Tribe’s, just yet.

And don’t forget Eric Haase, just 25 years old, who emerged last year in Akron to hit 27 dingers.  He’s also at Columbus this season.

The Indians don’t have a guy who is going to start behind the plate for the American League in the All Star Game, but they are very happy with the quality they have at the position.

As for Mejia, he could wind up joining with Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez to form a switch hitting middle of the order which would be the envy of baseball.

MW

 

The Toughest Road For Cavs Yet?

The NBA playoffs start this weekend with the Cleveland Cavaliers taking on the Indiana Pacers in the first round for the second consecutive season.

Unlike last year though, these Cavs are not the defending NBA champions, and personnel wise they are a much different squad than a year ago.

That’s why we are very interested, and a but unsure as to how this playoff run will play out or ultimately end.

They no longer have Kyrie Irving, their second best player a year ago, and a guy capable of taking over a game scoring the ball.

There are only five players left from last season.  LeBron James and Kevin Love are the mainstays, players who Tyronn Lue has to know what he will get on a night in, night out basis.

Two of the other three, JR Smith and Tristan Thompson have been wildly inconsistent all season, and the latter may not see a lot of playing time in the playoffs this season.

The fifth player in Kyle Korver, a professional shooter who can change a game with his three point accuracy, but no one, except perhaps Lue, is sure how he will be used in the playoffs.

The trades made at the deadline, while needed to revive what had become a team in the doldrums, also brought mostly players who are unproven in the playoffs.

George Hill is the lone experienced player, having been in 83 playoff contests, and has been on two squads which went to the conference finals.

Yes, the Cavs have James, the ultimate equalizer.  And they have Love, who has scored 15.5 points and grabbed 9.4 rebounds in three years of post-season play.

Other than that, what else can Lue’s crew hang their hats on during a playoff run?

Defensively, they are improved since the deals, but still rank 29th (out of 30) in defensive efficiency, so they will have to outscore their opponents.

They are capable of that, ranking 5th in the NBA in offensive ratings, but as the old saying goes, defense shows up every night.  The question is, will the shooting?

The playoffs are different.  Just ask Rodney Hood, who shot 42.4% from the field, and 38.9% from three during the regular season last year with Utah, but shot 35.2% from the floor (26% from behind the arc) in two post-season series for the Jazz.

Remember that two key members of the rotation, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., have never played beyond the regular season.  Clarkson has provided instant offense off the bench since arriving here, but will it carry over starting this weekend?

Who will step up to help James and Love with the scoring load?  Will Hill be a reliable option?  Will Smith return to the form of the previous playoff runs (he has shot much better since the first of March)?  Has Hood learned from last year? Or will veteran Jose Calderon be a bigger contributor than anyone could have imagined when he was signed last summer?

Regardless, this will be the toughest playoff test for the Cavs since James came back to the wine and gold.  There is that much uncertainty.  Maybe we will have a better answer after the first series, but right now the only thing to really bank on for this team is the presence of James.

But since we are talking about the sport’s best player, that may be enough.

JK

Browns Can’t Gamble At Quarterback This Time.

In about two and a half weeks, the Cleveland Browns will select their potential future franchise quarterback with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Forget about the mock drafts which have Cleveland taking Penn State RB Saquon Barkley, when the best signal caller you have had since returning to the NFL in 1999 is Tim Couch, you need to address the position.

By the way, that’s not a slight at Couch, who was battered and beaten during his time here because the offensive line was not built at that time.

Really, the last time the Browns have had a QB who ranked in the top ten in the league was when Bernie Kosar was behind center.  That was 25 years ago.

We disagree with those who say GM John Dorsey should take a passer who has the biggest upside.  After going 1-31 over the past two seasons, and having a void at the position for years and years, we feel you have to take the player with the highest floor, and in our opinion, that player is UCLA QB Josh Rosen.

Rosen was considered one of the three best passers coming out of high school, and basically has held that ranking throughout his college career.

The scouting report on him has him as the most natural pocket passer, with great mechanics and a tight spiral.  Since we believe the most successful NFL teams win with pocket quarterbacks, we would seem to be a player who will be a solid pro passer.

We wouldn’t be overly upset if Dorsey selected USC signal caller Sam Darnold, because he’s only 20 years old, and has a lot of upside.  His biggest strength is accuracy, but he had turnover issues last year in college.

Baker Mayfield is another player we like, but we worry about his upside since he is turning 23 years old on Saturday.

The NFL media is drooling over Wyoming’s Josh Allen, because he’s 6’5″ and can throw the ball 70 yards in the air.  However, accuracy is of the upmost importance in the NFL, the ability to throw receivers open.

That’s the rap on Allen.  We believe the national draft pundits are trying to be the guys who are touting the next Carson Wentz, the guy from a small school who becomes a big NFL passer.

Perhaps Allen will be the next Wentz or the next Ben Roethlisburger, but what if he’s the next Derek Anderson or Paxton Lynch? In our opinion, you cannot take that chance with the first overall pick in the draft.

Yes, the Browns have upgraded the position for this year by getting a solid veteran in Tyrod Taylor.  But that doesn’t mean you can gamble at #1.

After all these years with no quarterback, you simply must get someone who will be able to handle the position for the next ten years.

Rosen may not seem like a guy who wants to play here, but if Dorsey and the front office like him, they need to sell him that things will be different now, and this is a team that can grow together with young players like Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, David Njoku, and the others picked in the last two years along with this draft class.

This is not the time to gamble.  You have Taylor for this year and maybe the next, but all that does it buy time for whoever you take to develop so he can take over.

It’s not time to take a project.  Take a quarterback who has played against the best college competition.

JD

 

Even The Best Coaches/Managers Aren’t Perfect.

Being a beat reporter for a professional sports team has to cause a lot of internal conflict.
You have a job to do and that is to present the facts regarding individual games, individual players, and the circumstances surrounding a professional sports entity.

If you are around the same group of people everyday for eight or nine months out of the year, you would be unbelievably callous if you didn’t develop some sort of relationship with players or coaches.

Assuming the person involved isn’t a first class jerk, you want them to do well, it’s just human nature.

Here is a fact.  There is no such thing as a perfect coach/manager.  Even the best of them have weaknesses, even though sometimes the beat writers don’t want to admit it.

For example, Terry Francona is recognized as one of baseball’s best managers, and rightfully so.  He’s won two World Series with Boston, including their first in 86 years, and took the Indians to another one.

It is one thing to guide the Red Sox, one of the sports’ big market teams to two pennants, but taking the small market Indians to one shows he is the real deal as a skipper.

We believe most baseball fans would agree there is no one they’d rather have managing the Indians, but that doesn’t mean every move Tito makes is the correct one.

Francona is famously patient, we have said at times this patience starts to become stubbornness.  That’s a fine line for every coach or manager.

In essence, they are the same as the beat writers.  They have been through successful seasons with the players and they want to give them the benefit of the doubt.  By this time, watching Tito for more than five years in Cleveland, we can usually tell what players will or will not get the benefit of the doubt in terms of playing time or pitching usage.

As for the Cavs, Tyronn Lue coached the Cavs to a world title in 2016.  He is a much better playoff coach, and does a good job designing plays after timeouts.

However, the Cavs’ defensive schemes in the regular season are atrocious.  Lue’s loyalty to Mike Longabardi should be called into question.  At least to the public, the coach continuously talks about pace, but never a defensive mindset.

Lue also is a loyalist, favoring the players who have won for him in the past.  JR Smith and Tristan Thompson have had tough years, but at least the former doesn’t seem to lose playing time.

Right now, it seems that no matter what the question is, the answer is Jeff Green.  Lue named him a starter for the rest of the regular season and playoffs the other day when he doesn’t even know the playoff match ups.

Lue’s other weakness to us is a feel for the game.  He stays too long with players who clearly do not have it on that day.  We aren’t talking about LeBron James or Kevin Love.  We are talking about the role players.  For example, if Jordan Clarkson doesn’t have it that day, he’s not making shots, then try someone else.

Even Hue Jackson, despite having the worst record in NFL history over the past two seasons has defenders in the media.  Again, Hue seems to be a good guy, but defending a 1-31 record should call credibility into question.

The point is even the best coaches or managers aren’t perfect.  Just because fans question these weaknesses, it doesn’t mean they want them fired.

We also understand the world of social media has people who fire Francona or Lue each and everyday.

We know it can be tough for the media to ask a tough question about strategy, and guys like Lue won’t answer them anyway.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be called into question.

JK