Small Business Saturday in Cleveland

Small Business Saturday kicked off the holiday shopping season in Cleveland during Thanksgiving weekend. Locally owned businesses in the Cleveland neighborhoods of Ohio City and Tremont participated in the annual shopping event. Cleveland residents braved the rain to support stores in their hometown.

 

El Salvadorian Immigrants in Long Island

Hofstra University Spanish Professor, Warren Bratter, presented his research project on immigrants from El Salvador in Long Island at Hofstra’s annual Faculty Research Day. Bratter spent the past five years studying El Salvadorian immigrants in Glen Cove, New York. He found that the El Salvadorian immigrants have been widely accepted into the Glen Cove community.

Browns Season Preview 2015

After a solid 7-9 season in 2014 under first year head coach, Mike Pettine, the Browns will look to build off that success when they open up the 2015 season in the Meadowlands against the New York Jets on Sunday. Cleveland had a mediocre free agency period that included the signing of veteran quarterback, Josh McCown, and the departure of Pro Bowl tight end, Jordan Cameron. The Browns made up for this with an impressive draft that saw two first round picks in the form of defensive tackle, Danny Shelton, and guard, Cameron Erving.

Browns quarterback, Josh McCown. Photo Credit-Erik Drost

The Browns offense will be a huge question mark this season. For me the main problem is at quarterback. Josh McCown had a decent preseason campaign, but his two best performances came against the struggling Redskins and the lowly Buccaneers. He had a rough outing in week 2 of the preseason against a strong Bills defense that saw him throw for 57 yards and 2 interceptions. Johnny Manziel showed some bright spots in the first two preseason games, but an elbow injury has raised some concern. McCown will have the reigns to open the season, but do not be surprised if Manziel takes over the starting job halfway through the year. Cleveland’s offensive line is one of the best in the league led by eight time Pro Bowler, Joe Thomas. Two time Pro Bowl center, Alex Mack returns after missing the majority of last season with a broken leg. Second year guard, Joel Bitonio has showed a lot of promise and is projected by many NFL experts to be a Pro Bowler this season. First round pick, Cameron Erving should see some playing time this year as he is currently backing up guard, John Greco. Erving will give the Browns options as he can play any position on the offensive line.

Browns running back, Isaiah Crowell. Photo Credit-Erik Drost

The Browns also have some questions at the running back position and at wide receiver. Cleveland took a step in the right direction last week by trading second year running back, Terrance West to the Tennessee Titans. West has a great deal of talent, but was inconsistent and had a horrible attitude that caused problems during his time here. For now the Browns will depend on second year back, Isaiah Crowell, and rookie, Duke Johnson. Crowell showed last season that he can be a productive back by rushing for 607 yards. Johnson is a speedy and shifty runner that will create headaches for opposing defenses, but he has already had some injury issues during training camp. Over the last month, rumors swirled about the Browns adding a veteran running back to step in for the young backs. Cleveland finally added a veteran back this week when they claimed Robert Turbin off of waivers from the Seahawks. It was a head scratching move for me because the Browns cut Terrelle Pryor to add a running back that won’t be ready for 2-4 weeks with an ankle injury, but we will get into that more later.

Browns wide receiver, Brian Hartline. Photo Credit-Erik Drost

For the second year in a row, Cleveland will start their season without top receiver, Josh Gordon. Unlike last season, Gordon is suspended for the entire year after a second substance abuse violation. His absence forced the Browns to add a pair of veteran receivers this offseason in Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe. Hartline had a good preseason and has built some chemistry with McCown. Bowe missed the first three preseason games with a hamstring injury and played in the finale at Chicago registering one catch for 8 yards. Bowe’s best may be behind him which means that younger players will have to step up. Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, and Travis Benjamin will all get reps in week one. The Browns shocked many earlier this week by waiving Terrelle Pryor. Pryor made the transition from quarterback to receiver this summer with the hopes of keeping his NFL career alive. Like Bowe, Pryor missed the first three preseason games with a injury. Pryor had no receptions against Chicago, but he ran the wildcat offense twice where he kept the ball for a total of nine yards. Despite playing only one preseason game, he made the 53 man roster only to be waived just days later. With time, I saw Pryor growing into a dangerous offensive weapon. He is very fast, can catch the ball, and can throw. With Pryor gone and Gordon suspended, Cleveland will have to rely on a core of receivers that will face adversity this season.

Two-time Pro Bowl Cornerback, Joe Haden.

The Browns defense will be the strength of the team this season. Cleveland’s secondary is lead by a core group of veteran players that have each made the Pro Bowl. The two corner backs are longtime Brown, Joe Haden and newcomer, Tramon Williams. The starting safeties are Cleveland native, Donte Whitner, and Tashaun Gipson. The Browns entered the offseason with high hopes for the eighth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Justin Gilbert, but his troubles have only continued after a disappointing rookie campaign. Gilbert is currently listed as the backup to Joe Haden and after his recent road rage incident his days in Cleveland may be numbered.

Cleveland will have a strong rotation of linebackers this season. The starters include veterans Paul Kruger and Karlos Dansby, as well as Chris Kirksey and newcomer, Scott Solomon. Barkevious Mingo and rookie Nate Orchard should see time in the rotation this season. Mingo has struggled with injuries in his young career, but when healthy he has been the best coverage linebacker on the team. Orchard had an impressive training camp and is an excellent pass rusher. He recorded 18.5 sacks last season as a senior at Utah. Orchard will be a great piece in the Browns defense for years to come.

Browns defensive tackle, Danny Shelton. Photo Credit-Erik Drost

Cleveland’s defensive line was beefed up this offseason and is returning only one starter in Desmond Bryant. Defensive tackle, Ahytba Rubin signed with the Seahawks in free agency and tackle, Phil Taylor, was released in the first wave of this year’s preseason cuts. The Browns also traded 4th year defensive end Billy Winn to the Colts this week. With the departure of three tackles comes the arrival of a defensive monster in the form of Danny Shelton. At 339 pounds, Shelton is excellent at stopping the run and is a space-eater that swallows up blocks. Cleveland native, Jamie Meder, will see time at the other defensive tackle slot. Desmond Bryant will start at left end and newcomer Randy Starks will play at right end. Bryant and Starks should complement each nicely as they are both sack masters.

This season will be a make or break year for Coach Pettine and the Browns front office. After a rocky offseason that included textgate, Johnny Manziel’s rehab stint, Justin Gilbert’s attitude issues, and a recent scandal involving an offensive line coach, the Browns must make some improvements on the field. The first half of the Browns schedule is not too bad as it includes games against the Titans and the Rams. The second half of the season will be a challenge for Cleveland as they will face the Broncos and the Seahawks. My bold prediction is that the Browns will go 8-8, missing the postseason for the 13th straight year.

Reverse the Curse: The Indians Quest for a Title

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This past March, Sports Illustrated picked the Indians to win the World Series in their annual MLB preview. This is not the first time that SI picked the Tribe to win the title. In 1987 the sports magazine picked the Indians to win their first championship since 1948. Appearing on the cover were Cleveland sluggers Joe Carter and Cory Snyder. SI heralded the Tribe as “the best team in the American League.” The Indians were the exact opposite of that finishing in last place in the American League East. Not only are the Indians victims of the “SI Cover Jinx” but they are also believed to be cursed. Similar to the “curse” that was placed on the Red Sox, the Indians have the “Curse of Rocky Colavito.” The curse came from the unpopular trade of Colavito to the Detroit Tigers for Harvey Kuenn in 1960.

The 2015 Indians are much better than the 1987 squad even if their record doesn’t show it now. The Tribe are currently in last place in the Central Division with a 12-21 record. The Indians are not playing to their full potential so far this year. The beautiful thing about baseball is that it is a very long season. The Indians have plenty of talent and I think a trade or two could help this team make a deep playoff run. On paper Cleveland’s offense is loaded with 2014 MVP candidate Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Jason Kipnis, Michael Bourn, and Carlos Santana. All of these players have low batting averages and are capable of better production. The Tribe’s  biggest offseason move was the acquisition of slugger, Brandon Moss. Moss has struggled so far with a .238 batting average and five home runs. He showed some promise on April 25 against the Tigers, homering twice and driving in seven runs. The Indians pitching staff could use run support and some increased production from Moss would be huge.

2015

The Tribe’s biggest strength this season is their pitching staff. The Indians ace is 2014 American League CY Young Award Winner, Corey Kluber. Kluber has had a tough start to the season with a 1-5 record. He picked up his first win of the season on Wednesday against the Cardinals and he was lights out. Kluber put on a clinic striking out 18 batters over eight innings while allowing only one hit with no walks. He earned a game score of 98, which is incredible considering that the average score is 50. Kluber should have more than one win right now, but he has gotten no run support from his teammates. If Kluber can build off of his dominating performance and get some run support, the Indians will start to win more games. The Tribe have three other solid pitchers in Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco. Salazar and Bauer are two young guns that have a wicked fastball, but both have struggled early on this season. Salazar has a ERA of 3.27, while Bauer has a 4.19 ERA. Carrasco is off to a decent start with a 4-3 record, but has an ugly 4.89 ERA. It is only the second month of the season and I believe that the pitching staff will get into a groove and start to improve.

The Indians have won two World Series titles in franchise history. The first came in 1920 in a 5-2 best of nine series win over the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Indians were led by player-manager and Hall of Famer, Tris Speaker. The Tribe won their second championship in 1948 against the Boston Braves 4-2. The Indians had arguably one of their greatest rosters of all-time that year with Hall of Famers, Bob Feller, Larry Doby, Bob Lemon, Satchel Paige, and Lou Boudreau. Even though the Indians do not have any future Hall of Famers currently on their roster, they have a lot of promise. If the Indians can give their pitchers run support and improve defensively, this team could make a playoff run.

It has been 67 years since the Indians won a World Series. It is a drought that has seen three losses in the fall classic, including a heartbreaking game 7 loss to the Florida Marlins in extra innings in 1997. I do not think that the Tribe will win the World Series this year with their current roster. I believe that within the next five years the Indians will break the Curse of Rocky Colavito and capture their first World Series Title since 1948.

 

Browns Draft Preview

Browns players at the new uniform reveal at the Cleveland Convention Center on April 14. Photo Credit-Nate Nealon

Browns players at the new uniform reveal at the Cleveland Convention Center on April 14. Photo Credit-Nate Nealon

This Thursday is the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, a night where the Browns have the opportunity to make some noise. Cleveland has two first round picks at the 12th spot and the 19th spot. I love the NFL Draft and have watched the 2014 film based on the Browns, Draft Day, to get ready for the big night. In the movie, fictional Browns owner, Anthony Molina, tells general manager, Sonny Weaver Jr. (played by Kevin Costner) to make a splash. Weaver does this by trading for the number one pick, then later that night he makes deals that help him to reaquire the draft picks he gave up to move to the one spot. The Browns may not make cinematic like moves this year, but Browns general manager, Ray Farmer, needs to make a splash! After a disappointing off-season filled with “text gate” and no major free agent signings, Farmer must address some serious needs with the first two picks. Here is a list of five players that the Browns have been linked to.

1. Devante Parker: Wide Receiver-Louisville

Louisville wide receiver, Devante Parker. Photo Credit-chatsports.com

Louisville wide receiver, Devante Parker. Photo Credit-chatsports.com

The Browns signed veteran receivers Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline this season. They are both solid pick-ups with experience, but production wise their best is behind them. With Josh Gordon sitting out this season due to another suspension, the Browns will need a number one receiver and Parker is that guy. At 6’3″ he is a big receiver with explosive speed. Parker is a play maker which is what the Browns desperately need. If Parker is still available at 12, look for Cleveland to take him.

2. Danny Shelton: Defensive Tackle-Washington

Washington Defensive Tackle, Danny Shelton. Creative Commons

Another serious option for the Browns at the 12th spot is defensive tackle, Danny Shelton. At 339 pounds, Shelton is the defensive monster that the Browns need. He is excellent at stopping the run and is a space-eater that swallows up blocks. Defensive tackle, Phil Taylor, was hurt the majority of last season and drafting another tackle would give the Browns a back up option. Pairing up Taylor and Shelton would make them one of the most feared defensive duos in the NFL.

3.Eddie Goldman: Defensive Tackle-Florida State

Florida State Defensive Tackle, Eddie Goldman. Photo Credit-newsherald.com

Florida State Defensive Tackle, Eddie Goldman. Photo Credit-newsherald.com

If the Browns address the need for a receiver with the 12th pick, then look for them to take a defensive tackle at the 19th spot. At this point in the draft, Shelton will be off the board, but there will still be some strong options at DT available. Malcolm Brown from Texas is one option, but it is possible that he will be picked before the 19th spot. Eddie Goldman will still be available and would be a great pick up. Like Shelton, Goldman is a great run stuffer and he can eat up blocks. Goldman’s physicality against the run is a huge selling point, but he struggles with pass rushing.

4.Todd Gurley: Running Back-Georgia

Georgia running back, Todd Gurley. Photo Credit-onlineathens.com

Georgia running back, Todd Gurley. Photo Credit-onlineathens.com

Another option with the 19th pick would be Georgia running back, Todd Gurley. Last season, Gurley put himself at the top of the Heisman conversation with 773 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns in the first five games. In week 6, he was suspended for four games for violating NCAA rules. When he returned on November 15, he tore his ACL and missed the remainder of the season. Gurley has since been medically cleared and would be a steal for Cleveland if he falls this far. The Browns tandem of rookie running backs, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West showed bright spots last season, but were often inconsistent. One week they would have huge games and then the next week they would struggle. Gurley has a blend of speed and power that should not be overlooked. If Gurley is still on the board, I could see the Browns pull off a shock and take him at the 19th spot.

5. Marcus Mariota: Quarterback-Oregon

Oregon quarterback and 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota. Creative Commons

Oregon quarterback and 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota. Creative Commons

One name that has been linked to the Browns countless times over the last month is Marcus Mariota. The Browns quarterback dilemma is the top discussion of their off-season every year. This season has been no different with the puzzling signing of veteran journeyman, Josh McCown. There have also been reports that Cleveland has tried to trade for Philadelphia’s Sam Bradford twice. Many fans and experts seem to forget about Johnny Manziel. Manziel has been written off by critics after his disappointing rookie season and his voluntary time spent at a rehab facility. I am not ready to give up on Manziel after only seven quarters of play. Johnny showed a great deal of maturity by getting help for his off the field issues and he is ready to focus on football. Drafting Mariota would mean that the Browns have given up on Manziel and that would be a major mistake. Also to draft Mariota means that the Browns will have to trade some draft picks or even a key player to move up and grab him. I think Mariota is overrated and Ohio State helped to prove that by exposing his pocket passing inability in the National Championship game. Ray Farmer fueled speculation last week when asked if he would trade both the 12th and 19th pick for Mariota. Farmer responded by saying “Sure, why not?” Browns fans get ready because if Farmer has his way we may have two Heisman Trophy winners on our roster this season.

My bold prediction for this year’s draft is that the Browns will take Devante Parker with the 12th pick and Eddie Goldman with the 19th pick.

Cavs Playoffs Preview

The NBA regular season wraps up this week, as the Cavs prepare for their first playoff appearance since 2010. The Cavaliers will finish the season with a homestand against the Detroit Pistons on Monday and the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. The Cavs officially clinched the Central Division and the two seed in the East this past Wednesday. Like many experts, I believe that Cavs will win the East and advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in franchise history. Let’s take a look at the road the Cavs will have to travel to achieve the ultimate goal of winning a NBA Title.

The Eastern Conference Standings as of April 12. Credit to nba.com

The Eastern Conference Standings as of April 12. Credit to nba.com

Three days remain in the regular season and the Cavs are still unaware of who their first round opponent will be. Four teams are still alive for the final two spots in the East. It appears that the Celtics will be the seventh seed after they  won back-to-back games this weekend over a resting Cavs squad. It is possible that the Brooklyn Nets or Indiana Pacers could jump into the seven spot, but I think Boston will hold on. The Celtics are the more desirable opponent for the Cavs in the first round. The Cavs easily could have swept the Celtics in the regular season, but wisely chose to rest LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and J.R. Smith. The Cavs have a clear advantage and will make short work of the Celtics in 4 to 5 games.

The second round will provide a more intriguing matchup for the Cavaliers. The Cavs would play the winner of the Toronto-Milwaukee series. The Cavs won the season series over the Raptors 3-1. A Cavs-Raptors series would display some great one on one matchups. Cleveland’s Timofey Mozgov would face Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas in a battle of bigs. Another fun matchup would be Kyrie Irving versus Toronto’s Kyle Lowry. I could see this series going 5 to games 6 with the Cavs winning due to the play of the big three. Even though, Toronto has an advantage over Milwaukee, don’t count out this Bucks squad. Milwaukee has a talented young team that could give the Raptors a tough time. If the Bucks shock the Raptors, I think the Cavs would easily win the series. Milwaukee lacks playoff experience, while the Cavaliers have plenty of it.

The Eastern Conference Finals will obviously be the toughest challenge for the Cavs. I expect a Hawks-Bulls matchup in the Conference Semifinals. I would rather see the Cavs play the Bulls because of their longtime rivalry. However, I think the Hawks are more likely to advance to the Conference Finals. Regardless of which team advances, I can see the Cavaliers going six to seven games with either of these teams. Chicago can be a very dangerous team, but their biggest problem is staying healthy. Derrick Rose just returned this past week after a successful surgery that repaired a medial meniscus tear in his right knee. Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler both missed some games due to injury. The Cavs won the season series against the Bulls 3-1. In all four games, the Bulls were missing one of their three stars. A Chicago team at full strength would give the Cavs a good series, but I think the Cavs would still come out on top. The Cavaliers dropped the season series to the Hawks 3-1. Some people would find this concerning, but the first three games came before the trades for Mozgov, Smith, and Iman Shumpert. LeBron James also sat out the third game, which is another reason why Cleveland struggled. The Cavs improved in the final meeting with Atlanta, but still lost the game 106-97. At the time of that March 6 meeting, David Blatt was still tweaking his bench and defensive sets. The Cavs have been on a roll since then and have a won a NBA best 32 of 41 since mid-January. The Hawks play as one team which is key, but they lack star power and a good bench rotation. The Cavs have plenty of star power and a bench that is deep with playoff experience.

My bold prediction is that the Cavaliers will win the Eastern Conference and will play for a chance to bring Cleveland it’s first professional sports championship since 1964.

Blues Traveler: How Dion Nesmith’s long road through the NCAA brought him to Hofstra

Editors Note-In honor of tonight’s National Championship game I would like to share a piece I did for my sportswriting class. The assignment was to write a feature on a Hofstra athlete. Enjoy!

The college career of Hofstra senior, Dion Nesmith, has been a long, but rewarding journey. Nesmith’s college athletics career spans three universities and two different sports. The loss of one sport rekindled the love of another for the graduate student.

Hofstra Senior, Dion Nesmith, brings the ball up court in 2014 CAA Quarterfinals against Delaware. Photo Credit-Jeff Lansky

Hofstra Senior, Dion Nesmith, brings the ball up court in 2014 CAA Quarterfinals against Delaware. Photo Credit-Jeff Lansky

Nesmith began his college career in 2009 at Northeastern University as a redshirt freshman on the football team. He accepted a scholarship with the Huskies after being a standout on the football and basketball team at his hometown high school in Union, New Jersey. Nesmith also played baseball during his freshmen year of high school, but eventually focused on just two sports. When contemplating where he would attend college, he was faced with a tough decision. “Looking forward, Northeastern was probably the best academic school to offer me a scholarship so I took it and ran with it,” says Nesmith.

On November 22, 2009, just one day after the Huskies won their final game of the season, the University announced that it was dropping the football program after 74 years because it was too expensive to maintain. Faced with uncertainty about his athletics career, Nesmith had another tough decision to make. “The months leading after it were tough because I didn’t know what I wanted to do, if I wanted to keep playing football or play basketball or just go to school,” says Nesmith. “It’s tough you know, you’re eighteen years old and you have to make a decision for the rest of your life.” He was recruited by multiple schools for football and even took a visit to Central Connecticut State. In the end, he went back to his first love and accepted a basketball scholarship at Monmouth University.

Nesmith sat out his first season at Monmouth due to NCAA transfer rules. In two seasons with the Hawks, he averaged 13.3 points per game and started 88 of 93 games. He graduated from Monmouth in the spring of 2013 with a degree in finance, but he still had two years of eligibility as a graduate athlete remaining. Nesmith decided to transfer once again and finish his athletic career on the Hofstra University basketball team “I thought it was better for me to go someplace else and maybe expand my game a little bit and Hofstra was the right place for that,” says Nesmith.

Nesmith joined a rebuilding Pride squad that had lost five players to criminal activity and had just fired its head coach. Nesmith was ready for the challenge of leading a young team and playing under new head coach, Joe Mihalich. “I thought it was a fun role making a good change at place like Hofstra, where good things usually happen,” says Nesmith. In his first year with the Blue and Gold, Nesmith averaged 13.3 points and 4.2 assists. This past season, he proved once again to be a key member of the team by averaging 11.1 points per game and helping to lead Hofstra to their best season since 2010-2011. The Pride had a 20-12 record, which included an appearance in the CAA Semifinals, and bid to the College Basketball Invitational. “Dion gave us a lot of experience,” says Hofstra guard/forward, Ameen Tanksley. “He showed us the will to win and how to pull tight games through.”

Looking back on the many changes that have occurred during his college career, Nesmith says that he has no regrets about how things played out. “I wouldn’t be in the place I am now and the position I am to do things going forward in my life if those events didn’t happen and I’m not upset with any of them,” says Nesmith. Now that his college playing days have come to an end, Nesmith has begun to look towards the future. He will graduate from Hofstra in May with a MBA degree with a concentration in business analytics. “Right now I am trying to pick an agent so I can go overseas to play basketball, but I am also weighing my options back home maybe getting a job with my MBA,” says Nesmith. After a long, but successful journey in the world of college sports, it is safe to say that Nesmith will excel in whatever path he chooses.

Browns Fans Deserve Better

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The Browns have been disappointing every year since their return in 1999 with the exception of one season. That year was 2002, which featured the team’s only playoff appearance since the resurrection of Cleveland’s beloved football team. This offseason has been arguably the worst the team has had in my lifetime. In the time since the season ended on December 28, the Browns have experienced a scandal with the general manager and two incidents with key players.

The problems began in January when a cleveland.com report revealed that a “high-ranking personnel member texted from the press box to the sidelines about play calls” during a game. That official was general manager, Ray Farmer. As a result of “text gate,” Farmer is facing a fine and a multi-game suspension. The Browns could also potentially lose a draft pick because of the incident. On February 2, it was announced that quarterback, Johnny Manziel had entered a rehab facility. It was a step in the right direction for a talented player who spent too much time partying off the field last season. Two days later his teammate, Josh Gordon took a step in the wrong direction. Gordon was suspended by the NFL for one year for once again for violating the substance abuse policy.

As NFL free agency opened on March 10, the Browns continued to struggle by failing to bring in any big talent. Cleveland missed out on big free agents such as Trent Cole and Charles Clay. The Browns made some small signings by adding two journeymen quarterbacks in Josh McCown and Thad Lewis. Cleveland also signed veteran wide receiver, Brian Hartline to prepare for Gordon’s absence. The Browns seemed like they were ready to go into tank mode by sitting back quietly as some of leagues best players signed elsewhere. Cleveland has since woken up by signing some good, veteran talent this week. On Monday, the Browns agreed to deals with cornerback, Tramon Williams and defensive linemen, Randy Starks. Williams will replace former Browns corner, Buster Skrine, and he will undoubtedly be an upgrade. Starks is known as a run-stopper and is a sack master. He has 17.5 sacks in the past four seasons. The Browns continued to improve their receiving core by signing veteran, Dwayne Bowe. Bowe’s numbers have declined over the past couple years, but he still averaged 58 catches for 713 yards with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The signings of Williams, Starks, and Bowe show promise, but the Browns are far from a playoff contender. Johnny Manziel’s second season will prove if the team must continue to address the quarterback position. The Browns will also have to decide what future Josh Gordon has with the team after he returns from his suspension. There are so many issues in this organization not only on the field, but in the front office that it is extremely concerning. To have your general manager get in trouble for texting during a game is just pathetic. I have never been a fan of Browns owner, Jimmy Haslam, and it is evident that he may be incapable of restoring this franchise. If Haslam wants this team to win he needs to think of his fans. Browns fans are some of the most passionate in the NFL, but no one wants to go down to First Energy stadium to watch Josh McCown start at quarterback. Haslam and Farmer must improve this team now before they continue to lose their fans. Browns fans have suffered for far too long and we deserve better.

March Madness: Cavs Rolling Towards Playoffs

Since returning from the All-Star break, the Cavaliers have lived up to the expectations that were put on them at the beginning of the season. The Cavs have been dominate since January 15, posting a league best 24-5 record. Cleveland’s success has largely been due to the trades for J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov. The brilliant play of Kyrie Irving and LeBron James has also been key during the Cavaliers run.

The Cavs have been hard to beat at home, winning 13 straight at The Q. However, Cleveland’s toughest challenge of the second half of the season has been it’s grueling road schedule. The Cavs have had to play of 10 out of the 13 games since the All-Star break on the road. They have proven to be road warriors by notching huge wins in Washington, Toronto, Dallas, and San Antonio. The Cavaliers wrap up a four game road trip tonight in Miami. After the game, they will return home for a quick two game homestand, before heading back on the road for three more games.

Cavaliers forward, LeBron James, in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 25, 2015. Creative Commons

Cavaliers forward, LeBron James, in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 25, 2015. Creative Commons

The Cavaliers big three are finally starting to come together. The three stars connected for a big play during the Cavs 89-79 victory over the Suns on March 7. Irving chased down a loose ball and kicked it out to Love, who then passed it behind his back to James for the layup. The hustle play was a thing of beauty and it showed what this group is capable of. LeBron is having a great season and is still in the discussion for MVP. Since ditching his trademark headband against the Suns, James has been all business. He has scored over 20 points in each of the Cavs last 3 games, including a 31 point performance in San Antonio. Kyrie has been spectacular during the Cavs current four game win streak. Irving put on a show in Thursday’s 128-125 overtime win against the Spurs. He set a franchise record with 57 points and was 7 for 7 from 3 point range. Irving drained a three pointer as time expired to force overtime. He went to hit another tough 3 pointer in overtime to lift the Cavs over the Spurs.

In order for the Cavs to make a long postseason run, they must stay healthy. The Cavs have managed to avoid major injuries since the All-Star break. Shawn Marion suited up on Sunday night in Orlando after missing 12 games with a hip injury. Kevin Love was given the night off in Orlando to rest. He has suffered from back spasms since November and experienced a flare up during the game in San Antonio. James suffered a minor injury in Sunday’s win as he tweaked his knee. He finished the game and will receive treatment before tonight’s game against the Heat. Cavalier fans should not be too worried about the injuries as there are only 14 games remaining in the regular season. The Cavs starters will soon get some much needed rest as the team prepares to make a deep run into the playoffs.

Kyrie Irving: Cleveland’s Young Superstar

The past year has been huge for Cavaliers point guard, Kyrie Irving. Irving entered last season with high hopes as he looked to lead the Cavs to the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James departure in 2010. He averaged 20.8 points per game and was voted by fans into the starting lineup for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game. In the All-Star game, Irving put his talents on display scoring 31 points with 14 assists and earning MVP honors. Despite Irving’s breakout success, the young Cavs continued to struggle, missing the playoffs and finishing in 10th place.

Credit to Creative Commons

Credit to Creative Commons

The Cavs began the 2014 offseason by firing head coach Mike Brown. After hiring David Blatt as the next head coach, one of the Cavaliers top priorities was to resign Irving. Owner, Dan Gilbert, and General Manager, flew to New York to negotiate a contract extension with Irving. The duo pitched him a plan to assemble a big three in Cleveland with the additions of James and Kevin Love. “Kyrie bought in,” said Griffin. “That started everything. It created the momentum.” Irving agreed to a five-year, $90 million maximum contract. Irving celebrated his max deal by tweeting a link to a Youtube video of himself dancing at his home. Ten days after Kyrie agreed to an extension, James announced his return to Cleveland. The Cavs completed the “Big 3” by trading former number one draft picks, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love in August.

Irving is not only a star on the court, but is also a savy businessman. This past December, Nike announced Irving as their newest signature athlete along with his own signature shoe, the KYRIE 1. The deal made him the 20th basketball player to receive a signature shoe from Nike, joining the company of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and fellow Cavalier LeBron James.

Kyrie Irving as Uncle Drew in a Pepsi Max commercial. Credit to ufunk.net

Kyrie Irving as Uncle Drew in a Pepsi Max commercial.
Credit to ufunk.net

Some of Irving’s other endorsement deals have shown his comedic side. He teamed up with Pepsi Max for a series of webisodes where he plays as a character named “Uncle Drew.” In the commercials, Irving disguises himself as an old man and goes to local basketball courts to play pickup games. The ads have also co-starred his teammate Kevin Love and WNBA star, Maya Moore. This past November, Irving signed a deal to create more Uncle Drew webisodes with the intention of taking the character to the greater Pepsi brand. His funny antics continue in a new ad with Footlocker where he tries his hand at acting. In the commercial he is sitting with his friends talking about his signature shoe and the upcoming All-Star game, where he mentions that he recently guest-starred on Law and Order. Irving’s guest-spot shows him lying dead in a hospital bed, to which he responds to his friends, “It only took nine takes.” He followed up the commercial last weekend by posting a YouTube video of himself giving an Oscar acceptance speech for the ad. Irving even added in the “get off the stage music” and crowd applause.

As the Cavaliers are surging towards the playoffs, Irving doesn’t seem to be slowing down. He appeared in his third straight All-Star game a couple weeks ago and made it to the final round of the Foot Locker Three Point Contest. He is currently averaging 21 points per game with an average of 5.3 assists. On January 28, Irving scored a career-high 55 points and set a franchise record with eleven three-pointers. At only 22 years-old, it’s safe to say that Irving is Cleveland’s newest superstar.