Browns Fan Survival Guide: So your spouse isn’t a Browns fan.


In my first edition of the Browns Fan Survival Guide, I will be offering tips on a subject that hits very close to home for me, and I must confess:

I married a Buffalo Bills fan.

The statement itself feels treasonous to make. But listen, I can explain. First and foremost, the guy had a Buckeyes ball cap on when I met him. I mean, c’mon. And once the subject of professional football was broached, we drowned our sorrows of past pigskin heartaches with beers and tacos. As a Bills fan, he knows what it means to watch your team self-destruct before your very eyes when it matters most (see Super Bowls XXV-XXVIII). What’s worse, he has family ties to the coaching staff from back in the day. He, too, is hopelessly devoted to a team that brings him nothing but pain. He gets it.

Besides, it’s not like I dislike the Bills. I watched the aforementioned Super Bowls and rooted for them. To this day, I still hate the Dallas Cowboys. We had that in common. And he hates the Steelers. That’s good enough for me!

I don’t know if I was blinded by love or had one too many tacos, but I didn’t even object to his undying devotion to the Detroit Tigers. Wait, what? That’s right. I am an Indians fan through and through, having watched most of the games on TV with my dad while growing up. I still do to this day, actually. But I don’t hate the Tigers. I would root for them when I saw them televised, so long as they weren’t playing the Tribe. Then he tells me how much he hates the Yankees. So there’s always that.

You see, it’s all well and fine to be fans of different teams, until the inevitable happens; they play against each other. It may not be often, but probability says it is bound to happen at some point. That Spring, we thought it would be fun to attend an Indians/Tigers game together. Then the following Fall, we thought it was a good idea to attend a Browns/Bills game. Which brings me to my first tip:

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Never, ever, for the Love of God, attend the game together. This is a recipe for disaster.

The first (and only) time my husband and I attended a Browns/Bills game, I was beyond excited. We went with my parents, who are tried-and-true Browns fans. Another rookie mistake. So far that season, the Browns had barely lost their first two games to the Eagles and the Bengals. They fought hard, and I was convinced they would pull out a win at home against the 1-1 Bills. I was so optimistic, in fact, that I accepted my future husband’s wager on the outcome of the game. I agreed that if the Bills won, I would wear his Bills hat all the way home to Northwest Ohio from Cleveland.

Tip #2: Do NOT bet on the game.

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True to their form, the Browns lost. Badly. This picture is me attempting to swat his camera away from my face. Realizing he had no intention of putting down the camera, I decided to focus on exiting the stadium as quickly as possible.

Exhibit 2

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Yep, still in the stadium. CRAP.

How did I get myself into this mess? I just couldn’t resist trash talking. I couldn’t just keep my mouth shut. I had to own up.

The third tip stems directly from this incident:

Keep trash-talking to a minimum.

Face it, no one likes to eat crow. And you really don’t want to risk allowing yourself to say too much…i.e. accepting a bet which would entail you to wear the hat of the opponent whom just beat the daylights out of your team.

I’m not saying to NEVER talk smack (honestly, who can resist it?!). Just keep it to a minimum, even if it’s the off-season. If your spouse’s team is particularly awful at the game of football, like the Browns for instance, keep in mind that all the jokes can take a toll after a while. If your team is on fire, makes the playoffs every year, etc, don’t forget that this too shall pass. Certainly there are powerhouse organizations that haven’t had a losing season in what seems like decades. But every team has sucked in the past and will invariably suck again, at some point in the future. Sometimes it’s best to get off the high horse ahead of time.

Talking smack can be found in its finest form when at home, in a safe environment without onlookers and witnesses. That’s why I offer my next tip:

When watching the game at home, be sure to have at least 2 TVs in your house tuned into the game in separate rooms.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Inevitably, one of your teams will end up doing something incredibly horrific or amazingly spectacular.  When this happens, you will need to take yourself out of the current room. One person can’t believe it just happened; the other is jumping for joy. One will need to take this opportunity to quickly excuse oneself and cool off. Personally, I always find myself going back to the first room within a few minutes and repeating this process a few dozen times per game. Sometimes the pacing is therapeutic. My team usually loses, so I always take a second to remind myself of the following tip:

Lose graciously.

Someone has to lose, right? We’re used to it by now, so why not us? We have had to learn the art of losing graciously in our years as Browns fans. We are a unique breed that has grown strong in our misery. We can take it, just like we always have. But that being said, always remember:

Win graciously…er.

Yes, I just went George Dubya on ya and invented that word. But it’s necessary. There are few things in life that show a person’s character more than how they act when they win. A gracious winner has felt the sting of defeat and allows that wound to stay close enough to the surface to be recognized.

True Sportsmanship is the key. Because don’t forget, they will play again.

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Jerk.

Moving on.

It’s February now– you have plenty of time to prepare yourself. I suggest putting together a plan and practicing your comebacks in the bathroom mirror daily.

Be sure to tune in next time when I’ll offer more tips on surviving Browns Football (and life).

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Why I Hate This Time Of Year


Ahh, mid-to-late January. The winter has fully set in.  Icy winds gust; coming directly off of the Great Lakes, they cause wind chills in Northern Ohio to drop as low as 40 below zero.

I hate this time of year.

But it so much more than the ridiculously frigid weather that makes me dread this part of the season.

By this point every year, the Browns have been done playing for weeks.  Now is the time for the best of the best to compete.  And as the playoffs go on, there are fewer and fewer games.  No more Monday and Thursday night games.

The weekends go from being all about college football and the Buckeye Nation to NFL playoffs. I hate when the Bowl games are over and college football is done for the year. It’s a precursor to what is coming…the end of the football season.

The Super Bowl quickly approaches, which is the only silver lining to this whole process. My birthday is in early February,  so I generally go to random Super Bowl parties and proclaim to the guests that they are actually attending my birthday party, then graciously thank them for coming. In 2010, that party happened to take place on Bourbon Street…when the Saints won the Super Bowl…for the first time…ever. Talk about a birthday party!

But, I digress. The Super Bowl is the literal and figurative end to another season. The Browns never even get close to the game, so I pick a team to root for to keep it interesting. It’s usually the underdog. That’s the Browns fan in me.

I am not a basketball fan.  At all.  I am, however, a huge Cleveland Indians fan. My other vice.  That means I have approximately two months of a sports drought. During this period, there is usually a circus of firing and hiring of new coaches, coordinators, QBs, janitors, and anyone else who has been on payroll for more than 90 days.  And the draft speculations. OMG, will the Browns draft a quarterback?  Of course they will, and you’re stupid for asking.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.These people are crazier than half of Dennis Rodman’s personalities.  The process will inevitably repeat itself and I truly worry about the next generation of Browns fans.

I can vaguely remember a time when the Browns were somewhat relevant. My children cannot. How long can my 9 year old daughter defend the Browns when kids (and adults) rattle off Browns jokes?

I try to focus on Spring. Count down the days til baseball. The Indians were on the brink last year.  Baseball is Spring incarnate; new beginnings, bright horizons, and anything can happen.  Hope is renewed.

As for now, I will blame the 30 mile-per-hour winds outside my window for this sense of forboding I feel.  But I can’t shake the thought that it actually has more to do with Cleveland sports in 2014…and that more than likely, I’ll be hating this time of year again next year.

Roll Tribe: 2013 Cleveland Indians Preview and Predictions


Here are some projections and predictions for our 2013 Cleveland Indians…

The Lineup

Michael Bourn:  The only stat I really care about with Bourn will be On-Base Percentage.  If he can keep it around .380 or so, he’ll help this lineup significantly with his speed on the base paths.  Prediction:  .265 Avg, 7 HR, 42 SB, .330 OBP

Asdrubal Cabrera:  He’s been a first-half All-Star and a second half chump the last few seasons.  I suspect he’ll be more consistent this year.  Prediction:  .275 Avg, 18 HR, 55 RBI

Jason Kipnis:  I love Kipnis, but he had a horrible second half last year and it seemed to carry over into spring training, so there is certainly some reason for concern.  Prediction:  .275 Avg, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 20 SB

Nick Swisher:  Swish’s numbers have been very consistent over the last five seasons, but I expect them to dip slightly given his new home ballpark and lineup protection.  Prediction:  .260 Avg, 21 HR, 75 RBI

Carlos Santana:  I’ve given up on Santana ever hitting for average like we thought he would, but he has some pop.  Prediction:  .235 Avg, 22 HR, 60 RBI

Mark Reynolds:  I’m not sure Reynolds will make it through the season as a regular in the lineup.  He strikes out a ton, and if he doesn’t hit a bunch of bombs he’ll become a real liability in the lineup.  Prediction:  .210 Avg, 12 HR, 35 RBI

Michael Brantley:  Dr. Smooth had a great spring.  I think his upside is limited, but he’s a decent player and I don’t believe a drop in the lineup will affect him any.  Prediction:  .280 Avg, 10 HR, 20 SB

Lonnie Chisenhall:  I was thrilled when they traded Hanahan and decided to give the job to the Chiz Kid.  They should have done it last year.  He had a terrific spring.  Prediction:  .280 Avg, 21 HR, 70 RBI and a move up in the order.

Drew Stubbs:  In three seasons as a full-time player, his batting average, on-base percentage, home runs and RBI have decreased each season.  I’m not sure if a change in leagues will help and he might force Swisher into playing RF full-time.  Prediction:  .220 Avg, 10 HR, 25 RBI, 10 SB

The Starters

Justin Masterson:  I don’t believe Masterson is as good as he was in 2011 or as bad as he was in 2012.  He’ll revert back to what he is– a solid starter who is by no means an ace.  Prediction:  13-12, 4.25 ERA

Ubaldo Jiminez:  We can only hope for a Cliff Lee-type of career turnaround.  I don’t see it from Scrubaldo, though.  Prediction:  5-11, 5.50 ERA and a demotion from the rotation.

Brett Myers:  He got lit up this spring, but he’s a solid pro and should be OK.  Prediction:  11-11, 4.50 ERA

Zach McAllister:  He had a good run last season and I think he’ll be consistent but not great.  Prediction:  11-9, 4.25 ERA

Scott Kazmir:  I liked that the Indians kicked the tires on Kazmir because there is some upside here and he’s LEFT HANDED.  I hope his career rebounds, but the odds are against it.  Prediction:  5-9, 5.00 ERA

Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco:  I believe both of these guys will make a significant number of starts this season because it is likely that at least two of the starters will either get hurt or pitch their way out of the rotation.  I’m high on both, and if there’s any hope for the next few seasons, it’s because of these two.

The Bullpen

The Bullpen Mafia was good last season and should be good again, but with the pen you never really know what you might get from year to year.  I put the odds of Vinnie Pestano taking over the closer role from Chris Perez at 50/50.  I hope that doesn’t happen, but while Perez has gotten the job done in his career, I’m not sure he has the stuff to be a consistently good closer.

The Defense

This is one of the most improved areas of the team.  The outfield defense, which was one of the worst in the league last year, will cover as much ground as anyone with the addition of Bourn and Stubbs.  The infield defense might not quite be as good with the loss of Hanahan and Kotchman, but it won’t be bad, either.

The Coaches

I’m still pinching myself to see if Terry Francona actually did come here to manage.  I would be fine if they signed him to a 10-year deal today.  If the Indians lose, it won’t be because he doesn’t know what he’s doing.  Two key players I’ll be watching closely to see if the coaches can help are Kipnis and Jiminez.

2013 Season Prediction:  The Indians will be a better team than they’ve been since 2007.  They’ve added some speed and power to a lineup that has had neither for a long time.  The base running and defense will be much improved as well.  However, there are just way too many issues in the rotation to expect a breakout year of 90-plus wins.  If the team does manage to get some solid starting pitching (which I suspect would have to come from Carrasco and Bauer later in the season) the Tribe will challenge for a division title or wild card.  Unfortunately, I see too many “ifs” to expect a contender this season.  I do expect an entertaining and encouraging 83-79 season, though.  Roll Tribe.

Spring Training Short Hops


Closer and resident lightning rod Chris Perez will be starting a throwing program on Sunday to help get him back on track for Opening Day after spraining his shoulder about a week ago. As of now he’s questionable for the start of the season against the New York Yankees but should he still not be ready, Vinnie Pestano would be the obvious man to get the call in his place until then. This in turn could give Matt Capps and Cody Allen the inside track in short relief and set-up roles, respectively. With so many options brought into camp and at the AAA roster, maintaining the bullpen as the strength of the pitching staff eases the decision-making process for Terry Francona regarding who will be the #5 starter for the first month of the season or so.

Speaking of which, journeyman Scott Kazmir continues to be the most consistent and impressive of the candidates vying to fill out the rotation so far. A hard-throwing left-hander anywhere on a staff is a bit of a commodity and to have one as a seasoned veteran whose played on similarly styled rosters in Tampa Bay could be valuable experience against some of the tougher left-handed hitters in the AL. The pulse of the fans is that Carlos Carrasco or Daisuke Matsuzaka would be the best options, but neither has seemingly outperformed the other so far and Dice-K hasn’t regained the velocity and movement on his pitches he once had. The larger picture is that whomever makes the final cut would likely be kept on a short leash should they be ineffective.

Jason Giambi may still have a better than slim chance of making the 25-man roster in spite of having an abysmal Spring Training, the likes of which would have removed all doubt for most other players trying make it as a non-roster invitee and certainly as a 1B/DH. As previously stated, his veteran presence and leadership goes a long way with Francona dating back to their days as members of baseball’s greatest rivalry. While there may be an element of truth to that, his virtual absence at the plate could put a wrench into those plans as Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles continue to prove that they will be essential go-to position players off the bench for Francona. Lonnie Chisenhall’s performance has reaffirmed the expectation that he’s not in danger of losing his starting spot to either of the aforementioned, therefore reducing the number of bench spots available by proxy. With both Chis and LF Michael Brantley susceptible to being platooned during the season if their troubles against LHP continue, there can’t be any room on the roster for dead weight.

Jeremy Hermida, previously referenced as a potential challenger for Drew Stubbs in RF, has been optioned to the team’s minor league camp. Given the lack of playing time and opportunities for him since the beginning of ST, this roster move isn’t unexpected and he’ll likely provide OF depth in Columbus if he doesn’t ask for a release to try and catch on elsewhere.

Irving could be shut down again if knee problems persist – Cleveland Cavaliers – Ohio


Irving could be shut down again if knee problems persist – Cleveland Cavaliers – Ohio.

I honestly wish they would just sit him and let him heal.  Its not like the Cavs are playing with the playoffs in mind or anything.