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My views vary on the Indians, Browns and Captains 
Opinion by Timothy W. Shirer 

I have a few things on my mind this week concerning the Indians, Browns and Captains.

First off the most important topic, because I believe they are the most important team in this area is the Indians and their hiring of Terry Francona as field manager.  I'm not sure why but for some reason I'm skeptical of the hiring.  I know Francona led the Red Sox to two World Series Championships in his eight years in Boston.  But for some reason his four years of failure he had previously in Philadelphia as the Phillies manager has me concerned.  If you look at his record in Philadelphia it's as very similar to Manny Acta's nearly three years as the Indians skipper.  It looks very similar to many of the managers of the Tribe in the years that proceeded the 90's.  The only difference from those years and Francona's years in Philadelphia is, he had some real talent in Philadelphia, but was not able to finish higher than third place and never finished above .500 in the four seasons that he was the Phillies manager.

In each of the four years that Francona was in Philadelphia they had more power in the lineup and had a Cy Young winner in their rotation named Curt Schilling.  Yet they never finished above .500.  That concerns me.  We know Francona can manage when he has a team loaded with talent and high payroll, but can he manage a team that has middle of the road or below average payroll?  Bob Melvin proved it could be done in Oakland this season.  My question is can Francona do the same in Cleveland.  Because you are completely delusional if you think the Indians are suddenly going to go on a wild spending spree and increase their payroll to $100 million.

Now to the team in Cleveland that deserves to be beat up by the media, but the Cleveland media continually gives them a free pass or makes excuses, the Browns.  Once again this week the Browns didn't look like they were on the same level with their NFL opponent the New York Giants.  Don't even try to give me the excuse they played the defending Super Bowl champs.  It's amazing how that seems to be an excuse after the fact.  When during the week leading up to the game broadcasters on TV (namely one who works for the Browns) enjoyed telling viewers that the Browns had a history of beating Super Bowl champs.  Well if that was true then losing to them is no excuse.  But as we know in Cleveland the media arrogance about a horrible Browns team is legendary.  Then when things go bad there are always 50 excuses why a particular player or the team played bad and why they will do better in the future you can bet on it.  How much longer do they think spewing this kind of garbage will work?  I think it has already had an effect.  Normally the TV ratings for a Brown primetime games is in the 50% range of people in Cleveland who watching the Browns that night.  The game against Baltimore was 33% of the audience was watching the Browns.  That's a large dip in audience, maybe people have finally stopped believing mouth pieces that double as sports anchor/news anchor.

As for Brandon Weeden, I'm just curious what the theory is now why he is struggling and throwing a game changing interception nearly every week.  The mouth pieces in the Cleveland media who hype the Browns every season at the draft and in training camp told us that Weeden wasn't going to struggle because he was mature, because of his baseball experience.  He would not have jitters and be gun shy because of his experience.  They also told us that he had a great arm and was accurate.  I will admit this, he has a great arm.  But he is horribly inaccurate.  It continues to amaze me what these people see.  The thing I hear the most is, "Colt McCoy couldn't have made that throw."  Maybe in some cases that is true, but I also think Colt McCoy is a smart QB and would not have thrown half of the STUPID interceptions that Weeden has thrown.  I'm not going to say that Weeden is a flop, it is too early to say that, but I will say this, to compare him to Roger Staubach as an NFL QB is like comparing Abraham Lincoln and James K. Polk as president.  There is no comparison.  One president was great and one was just ok.

Finally the Lake County Captains, there are a couple things here that deserve a mention.  First off I want to mention a valuable member of the Lake County Captains front office this past season Bill Levy.  Bill recently left to take a job in the front office of the Augusta Green Jackets.  Bill was in community relations with the Captains he handled things that truly mattered.  Things like challenger baseball teams getting a chance to play the Captains players at Classic Park.  Challenger baseball players are players with mental and physical challenges.  I saw the smiles on those players’ faces and those smiles can never, ever be measured in figures involving money, they were good for the heart and good for the soul.  Bill also set up high school baseball games at Classic Park.  If you ever played high school baseball or are a parent of a high school baseball player then you know how much it means to get a chance to play in a stadium like Classic Park.  Bill made this happen in his time in Lake County.  He did a great job.  Bill may not have always had complete cooperation from some within the organization who were worried about things like bonuses and the bottom line.  But what Bill worried about was the things that mattered most in life, PEOPLE.  That's why Bill Levy will be sorely missed.  I know when I go to cover a Captains game in the future I will miss not seeing Bill Levy, he's a really good man.

The other issue at Classic Park is the field.  From what I have been told it is almost 100% that the field will be replaced for the 2013 season.  My question is what took so long?  I'm not asking this of the Captains front office, I know they wanted it done last year, but there was a hold up and that hold up was Eastlake Mayor and Classic Park hater Ted Andrzejewski.  The mayor may take offense to this, but it's true.  The guy hates Classic Park.  He was an opponent of it when it was proposed and he still over ten years later can't get over the fact it has been built.  Well it's time he does get over it.  It's about time he agreed to release the funds for the Stadium that can only be used for improvements to Classic Park, nothing else.  There was absolutely no reason for him to withhold the funs last year except for the fact that he could do it.  He is still playing off voters feelings that they spent a lot of tax money on the stadium when it was built.  Well here is a bit of common sense for the mayor, Classic Park is there, and it isn't going anywhere.  But the team could leave if you don't allow them to make the field playable.  What if the Cleveland Indians decided that the field was not playable for their players to play on and moved the games somewhere else?  That could happen, so my advice for the mayor is give up the childish power play and do what's right for the citizens of your city, the citizens that elected you.  I wonder how happy the citizens of Eastlake would be if there was an empty stadium sitting at the corner of 91 and Vine.  I'm thinking they would say the long haul is over and someone else would be sitting in the mayor's chair at city hall in Eastlake
.
tshirer@lakecounty-sentinel.com or follow Tim on Twitter @TimothyShirer

POSTED 10/09/2012 01:08
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