With a New Year come resolutions and wishes for all. Especially in the world of sports. 2013 brings with it hope and anticipation for every sports fan. Without hope, why bother? So in that spirit we turn our sights to Cleveland, rub up the blarney stone and wish for new trends. After all, anything could help.
Let’s start with the Browns, a team that in a three month span got a new owner, fired their team president, GM and head coach. The presidency has been filled by Joe Banner. Who will be the coach and GM?
The Browns need a strong presence in the coaching position. Pat Shurmur was a “cold fish,” unable to demand respect from the fans or media. It also was apparent the players were listening to reports Shurmur was not going to be around next year. The next coach has to be someone who can be in charge in and out of the locker room. Someone who puts his stamp on the team and knows the direction they want it to go. That person, the wish is here, would be Doug Marrone of Syracuse. Marrone was the offensive coordinator in New Orleans from 2006-08. He also coached the offensive line for the New York Jets from 2002-05. So he has NFL experience and is endorsed by Sean Payton of New Orleans and Bill Parcells. Marrone took over a downtrodden Syracuse squad in 2009 and has gone 25-25 since.
The new ownership needs to select someone outside the Belichick tree or a certain offense. This is the first hire for Jimmy Haslam and Banner, so it’s in essence their most important decision. The impression they gave Monday announcing the firings was the new coach would be hired first and be given most of the control over the 53 man roster. If that is the case, then the new GM need only be a salary cap wizard. The best in the business is Mike Tannebaum, the former Jets GM who was also fired Monday. He is a former Browns scout under Belichick and would be a good hire.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a team that is up and coming. Led by second year guard Kyrie Irving, rookie Dion Waiters and center Anderson Varejao, a base has been established for future success. Coaching isn’t a problem as Byron Scott, his record withstanding, is one of the NBA’s best. Dan Gilbert, if you can keep him away from Twitter, is one of the best owners and will spend the money. Now this team needs another scorer and bench depth.
Currently the Cavs have the second worst record in the league. They also has three first round picks in the draft after the season. Chris Grant, who was questioned earlier about his drafting decisions, is now showing he may be a shrewd operator. Not to look ahead, but it would be nice to add a Seth Curry for outside scoring punch. Curry is averaging 17 ppg for Duke while playing on an injured leg. Also on the wish list could be DeShaun Thomas of Ohio State, who could move into the starting lineup at small forward, thus moving Alonzo Gee to the bench and strengthening that area.
As far as the Cleveland Indians there is one wish the fans want. That is for the front office to be dedicated to winning. This off season has been a great first step after ten years of futility and by all appearances, apathy. The signing of Terry Francona as manager, plus free agent Nick Swisher have staved off dissatisfied fans so far. The trade of Shin Soo Choo for Drew Stubbs and Trevor Bauer was met with excitement, simply because Choo was never really embraced by Indian fans.
Swisher’s contract at four years and $56 million, is over-priced to be sure. However the Indians are a team that needs to over-pay to get ball players. Swisher averages 28 homers and 90 RBI’s over his 9 year career with Oakland, the White Sox and Yankees. That production, at $14 million per year, is better than Travis Hafner was over the past 5 years at 12 HR’s and 50 RBI’s at $12 million per season.
Finally let’s move south to Columbus, where the Ohio State Buckeyes reside and the football team is one of two unbeaten teams in the country until Monday. Urban Meyer more than earned his salary by this past season and has restored faith in the program. Next season the offense and defense have 7 players returning on each side. Our wish is Meyer can relive the magic he performed next season when the team is bowl-eligible.
For Thad Motta and the Buckeye basketball team, smoke and mirrors are the key words. This team is winning only because of those right now and they need to establish a third scorer to help Thomas and Aaron Craft. Until then, a third place finish in the Big Ten might be the best they can hope for.
One would think 213 has to be a better year for sports overall than the past season. It cannot be much worse. And to everyone we wish you a very Happy and Healthy New Year.
Dave Mitchell co-hosts with Mark Donahue the UST talk show “Ohio Baseball Weekly,” highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. The Show return in March, 2013.