An Open Letter to Rob Ryan and the Rest of the Cleveland Browns

October 31, 2009

Dear Mr. Ryan,

There is a concept in business that is known as “Customer Satisfaction”. Basically, whenever a person pays you or your company for a service, they expect results that are comparable to the fee they paid. Guess what – we are NOT getting our money’s worth in Cleveland!

Dawg Pound Mike, one of the BIGGEST fans of the Cleveland Browns, is now trying to communicate a message to your organization, letting you know about the satisfaction level of your fans (the customers). His message, which is shared by pretty much the ENTIRE Cleveland Browns fanbase (which, by the way, is the largest organized fanbase in the world), is that we are all sick and tired of the substandard play we have seen almost EVERY SINGLE TIME we go to the stadium.

I don’t want to speak on behalf of the rest of the Browns fans, though, so I will only speak for myself.

19-32! 

That is the Browns home record since I became a season ticket holder, and it is DISGUSTING!

Although I do not have the tenure that many of my brothers and sisters in the stands have, I have been able to attend 51 games at Cleveland Browns Stadium since joining their ranks. Of those 51 games, the Cleveland Browns have managed to win only 19, placing their loss total at 32 embarrassing games. If you exclude the 2007 season (which is the ONLY one where I have gotten MY money’s worth), the Browns have played to an abysmal 12-31 record for the games in which I have been in attendance. That is UNACCEPTABLE!

Still, I show up faithfully every single weekend.

Now, though, Browns fans are reaching the breaking point. You are part of the FIFTH new coaching staff that our city has seen in TEN years. We are rebuilding for the FOURTH time, and we actually look worse today than we did as an expansion team in 1999. By that average, if things don’t change for “your” team, you will be looking for work by this time in 2011. So when the fans decide to band together and voice their disapproval of the product you are putting on the field today, maybe the appropriate reaction is not to snap back and attack the very fans who pay your (so far undeserved) salary. Instead of criticizing Cleveland Browns fans, who have collectively paid BILLIONS OF DOLLARS to Randy Lerner and the rest of this organization over the past 10 years, maybe you should take the time to actually acknowledge their frustration and get on the bandwagon to do something about it, before you REALLY find yourself in the same boat as many Clevelanders – In the unemployment line!

You compare the Cleveland Browns performance to the time when your son failed a class. That may be one of the worst analogies I have ever heard. The only similarity between that and the proposed protest by the fans is the failure. First, your son is not being given millions of dollars on the expectation that he will pass that class. You have not paid him for the service of earning a C grade. I assure you that if you were, you would have demanded that money back following his failure. Second, you refer to his failure as a one-time occurrence. If this were only the FIRST time that the Browns had played terribly at home, believe me that we would be a lot more forgiving. In fact, we HAVE been forgiving, which is why we STILL show up every weekend!

What do you know about the Browns’ struggles, though? You don’t have any idea what we’ve been going through since Art Modell stole our REAL team away from us! You have only cared about the Cleveland Browns since they started signing your paycheck a few months ago. You have ZERO ties to the city, you have NO affiliation to the team, and you get PAID by the team to do a job that you are failing at. The fact that you equate the Browns performance to the time when your son flunked ONE class, and then criticize the fans as if we are abandoning the team because of one mistake, PROVES that you have no REAL clue what has happened in this city and for this football team.

The one thing you were right about, though, is the suggestion you made about hiring a tutor to help improve the team’s performance. You seem to forget, though, that is PRECISELY what the organization hired YOU for. And so if you are now telling us that your recommendation to fix the problems with the Cleveland Browns is to hire a tutor to help the team improve, then I have to ask the question – What are we paying YOU for?! If you can’t do the job, and the only solution you can find to fixing the problem is to find somebody else, then do us all a favor and GET OUT!!!

You have no right to criticize a LOYAL fanbase that asks nothing more from you than to do what you are paid to do, which is to field a COMPETITIVE football team. Enough is enough! I completely support Dawg Pound Mike in his mission to FINALLY let the Browns’ fans be heard. We have tolerated failure and ineptitude for too long, now, and it is time that WE were recognized. WE are the most important part of the organization, not you, and not the players. Without the fans, you have no team.

It is no longer good enough in the city of Cleveland that we simply have a team. WINNING is now the expected result!

If you want to keep collecting my money, you had better start earning it! I am the customer, and I am not satisfied!

On Monday, November 16th, my seat in Section 502, Row 28 will be empty at the kickoff. I only hope that you hear our message!

Signed,

Bleacher Fan (Section 502, Row 28, Seat 20)


It’s Time For The Atlanta Braves To Trade Jeff Francoeur

May 28, 2009

July 7, 2005.

This was the day that much hyped rookie Jeffrey Branden Francoeur made his major league debut. This was the day that many Braves fans had circled on their calendar, when Francoeur was drafted by the Braves in the first round of the 2002 MLB draft. Much was expected of this young man after being a two sport star (he actually was offered a football scholarship to Clemson) while at Parkview High School in Lilburn, Georgia.

This was the day that “Frenchy” hit a three run home run in the 8th inning to knock off the Chicago Cubs. The following months were what you would call the honeymoon period. He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He got a lucrative endorsement deal with Delta Air Lines. Everything was just “peachy” for the homegrown Georgia kid.

But, following a productive 2007 season in which he won his first Gold Glove, things begin to turn in the wrong direction. Frenchy, known for the first two+ years of his career for having little patience at the plate, failed to show any improvement in that regard as his career progressed. He continued to be a first pitch hitter, with very little success, and with waning support from Braves fans. He even made a quick trip to AA Mississippi to work with Phillip Wellman, who is known throughout the Braves organization as being a terrific manager, even though most folks across the country know him for this.

The special training sessions didn’t work. He finished the year with 11 home runs and a .239 batting average. What really ruffled the feathers of some fans, especially Loyal Homer, was that he was requesting more money in arbitration than the Braves were willing to offer. An agreement was eventually reached; but, perhaps some bridges were damaged, if not completely burned by his actions during that time.

This season hasn’t gotten off to a great start, either – despite spending much of the winter with, Texas Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.

But, Braves fans continue to ask – is this the year Frenchy will turn the corner?

Do you want the one or two word answer? I’ll just leave it at this… NO! He entered play Thursday hitting .253 with ten total extra base hits (3 home runs, 5 doubles, and two triples). This isn’t going to get it done folks!

The time has come to pursue trading him, and Kansas City seems like an obvious fit. Word is they are interested. Kansas City’s general manager, Dayton Moore, used to work in the Braves organization and maintains a close relationship with Francoeur. Boston has also expressed interest, which may also be a good fit since he has always publicly shared an appreciation for the Red Sox.

The Braves would have acquire another outfielder to replace Francoeur (somehow). And, a trade wouldn’t be popular with the ladies, many of whom come to games just to see Jeff and teammate Brian McCann in action. But, it is the move that needs to be made. It is best for all parties to move on!

While I truly think Francoeur is a nice guy, being a nice guy doesn’t put runs up on the scoreboard. Runs are what the Braves need right now, not nice guys!


Some Interesting Baseball Stats

May 26, 2009

While watching the Cleveland Cavs slowly meltdown against the Orlando Magic from my favorite chair (every sports fan needs a chair), I couldn’t help but break out the Baseball Digest during the breaks. I must say — if you’re a baseball fan, but not a Baseball Digest subscriber, you’re missing out. This is a great magazine, has been for a long, long time. They even just launched a very nice website: www.baseballdigest.com.

The first interesting baseball stat belongs to Mark Teixeira, first baseman for the Yankees. He is the first player in the entire history of Major League Baseball to get 100 RBIs in 2 consecutive seasons, while playing for two different teams in those seasons. He started 2007 with the Rangers where he logged 49 RBI before being traded to the Braves where he tacked on another 56. In 2008 he began by knocking in 78 for the Braves before finishing the season with the Angels and knocking in 43.

Here’s another stat that, while being completely useless and meaningless, is nonetheless interesting. Since 1901, 9 players 5-9 or shorter have won a National League batting title – and 6 of them played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1902 it was Ginger Beaumont hitting .357 (that’s a ridiculous name, even for 1902), in 1927 (.380), 1934 (.362), and 1936 (.373) it was Paul Waner, in 1940 it was Debs Garms (.355), and in 1966 Matty Alou (.342) did it.

If you haven’t checked out our main site, The Sports Debates, we have a great debate going over there right now about whether or not Jake Peavy should have vetoed the trade to the White Sox. Let me know what you think about these stats — or if you win a game of trivia because of them!


LeBron James DROPPING LOADS!!!!

May 23, 2009
Photo from ESPN.com

Photo from ESPN.com

I couldn’t wait for the site to go live on Tuesday… this was just too much!

As a Cleveland sports fan, it’s difficult to see your teams get close, then fall short when it matters most.

For a little backstory, all season long I had refused to buy into the hype of the Cavs. I knew they were good, and I knew they would have a strong season, but I refused to get my hopes up. I’d been burned too many times. However, they just kept winning. Like a team possessed, they tore through January, AND February, AND March, AND April, AND the first 2 rounds of the playoffs… now I’m hooked. It’s just like Vegas. You HAVE to have a good time at first. That way it hurts that much more when the bottom falls out. But for me, it’s too late. Now I’m a believer, and the Cavs are going to roll through the playoffs… right?!

Then the reality of Cleveland sports fandom sets in. After losing the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals to Orlando when they blew a 15-point halftime lead, game 2 felt like a must win.

Once again, they started off strong, going up by as many as 23 points before it all started to unravel again. Sure enough, that lead began to crumble. Next thing you know, the Cavs are actually trailing by 2 with 1 second left on the clock. So how do I react to this? I actually begin to doze off on my sofa. I write the game off as being over, and another “great” Cleveland team is now on the precipice of elimination. My brain is already practicing that all too familiar mantra “There’s ALWAYS next year.”

I’ve already forgotten the game, and am ready to get a night of very bad, angry sleep. In my head, I’m already watching Moe Williams inbound to Wally Szerbiak for a last second shot that bricks off the front of the rim, and then a small contingent of blue uniforms celebrates a 2-0 lead over the seemingly unstoppable Cavaliers. I’m thinking about their blown opportunities in the game: LeBron’s late-game travel call, Sasha Pavlovic’s complete inability to contest a simple jump-shot from Hedo Turkoglu, Dwight Howard blocking LeBron’s shot attempt.

Then, the unthinkable happens. Moe Williams waits. He doesn’t let panic set in and just shove the ball to the first open man he sees… he WAITS! That moment pause was all that he needed. He now sees his target, the MVP of the NBA, streaking towards mid-court. He fires the ball (in super-slow-motion, mind you) and LeBron catches and shoots. The ball hangs in the air for what seems like an eternity, and just when all of Cleveland, whether at home or at The Q, expects to hear the clank of rubber hitting steel, instead, they hear the net rip, and we all went WILD!!!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a realist. I know that this was only game 2 of a 7 game series that is now tied at 1-1, and we now have to go INTO Orlando for 2 more games which will surely be as difficult as the first 2. I know that the Cavs have now blown 2 HUGE 1st half leads against an Orlando team that really has looked like the better squad so far. But for tonight, I don’t care. For once, Cleveland had that magic moment happen FOR us, not against us. In that one second, LeBron James spoke to an entire city of long-suffering sports fans and said “no more!”

For tonight, the dream lives on, and WE ARE ALL WITNESSES!!!!!!!


The Sports Debates – OHHvertime

May 22, 2009

Welcome, one and all. I’m sure many of your are wondering why The Sports Debates needs an entire blog devoted to “Overtime.” It’s simple, the main site does not have enough wiggle room in the format for every thought and opinion we have. Also, we can “judge the judge’s verdict” here, continue a lively discussion, or just vent about whatever we want. And, so can you. After all, everyone needs to vent.

Join us here at Overtime after the verdict is rendered (we’ll always post a link) and we can continue the conversation, while also introducing new topics on the main site. Remember the discussion rules — take everything personally, and seriously. After all, this IS sports. Enjoy!


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