They’re Shitty

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This Indians season has…not gone exactly to plan. Or at least if this was the plan then AnTitonettpiro are really bad at pranks.

And the worst thing about an under-achieving team (other than, you know, the losing) is that Twitter can’t seem to decide if this team sucks or not.

On one hand – they suck.

On the other hand – there’s a lot of weird numbers that seem to indicate there’s a chance Manny Acta is cackling in his basement lab as he pushes pins into his Chief Wahoo voodoo doll.

Focusing on the offensive side of things – the Tribe has been treating runners in scoring position more like runners in missionary position: they’re getting screwed. Jacob Rosen over at Waiting For Next Year did a great breakout of this earlier in the season, but I wanted to take another look as we head into the break.

Below is a chart showing the last six years overall hitting numbers vs their numbers with runners in scoring position.

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So the Indians’ OPS drops around 0.030 pts with runners in scoring position this year. That stinks. But maybe that’s a normal outlier?

Here’s a look at the overall MLB numbers over that same time frame. Notice that hitting normally improves with runners touching boobs or more. So not only are the Indians not hitting close to their normal averages, they should be hitting even BETTER than those averages.

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So is it bad luck?

Maybe. This is mostly the same roster as the previous season, so it seems odd that these numbers would almost completely flip year over year –

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Or is it lack of the clutch gene? If you ask the Indians for change for a dollar will they give you 3 quarters? Baseball people seem to think that clutch hitting is mostly random and not a real skill. But at the same time, the Indians’ hitting with RISPers has been declining for three years now.
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So what did we learn here?

There’s probably reason to believe the offense will improve. And with the Tribe’s pitching staff, that should be enough to win some games.

But there may also be some flaws in this lineup that need to be fixed. Some of those flaws rhyme with Bichael Mourn. Some are just that guys are slumping.

Today they sit 10 games back of the division and 4.5 of the second Wild Card spot. Hopefully by the end of September we’re having a different conversation.

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Netflix’s Bloodline is a Slow Burn

Bloodline 1Netflix has been on a bit of run lately.

The streaming service dipped its toe and made some noise in the last few years with original programming hits like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” that made clear Netflix was another viable outlet for viewers.

They have stepped up their game in 2015 though as it seems every weekend over the last month or so has been punctuated by another series dropping online.

The third season of “House of Cards” dominated pop culture conversation when it premiered in late February and then a few weeks later, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” a “30-Rock”-esque sitcom created by Tina Fey and starring Ellie Kemper was eagerly binged. And wait just a few more weeks and the eagerly awaited Marvel series “Daredevil” will show up in April.

In between though, Netflix has just released yet another new series, the family potboiler drama/mystery “Bloodline” and if anyone needs an indication of Netflix’s pedigree as an original programming player, just take a look at the cast and creators of this series. Continue reading

View from the Porch: Bold Predictions for the 2015 Cleveland Indians Season

(photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)

(photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)

As you may have noticed, Jeff Nomina did an excellent job earlier this week compiling staff predictions for the 2015 Cleveland Indians season. If you follow Fangraphs or read any of their things, their staff is releasing a series of bold predictions for the fantasy baseball season this week. It’s just that time of year for the glass half full approach to the season. Safe to say that the glass is certainly half full, or possibly overflowing, for some of the staff here at EHC regarding the Indians.

With that in mind, it’s a good time for me to step up and make some bold predictions for the 2015 Cleveland Indians season. There’s no point in stepping on what Jeff put together, so I won’t be making the same bold predictions that I made regarding the questions he posed like the team’s record or how far they will go in the playoffs. Instead, I’ll focus more on individual players and look at some of the personal accomplishments that they may enjoy in 2015. Continue reading

Cleveland Indians 2015 Predictions, Part 1

1Opening Day is just around the corner and the Everybody Hates Cleveland staff has reported to camp in the worst shape of our lives. Before we all get drunk on the sweet, sweet nectar of baseballahol, we here at EHC wanted to take a step back and look at what we can expect from the 2015 Cleveland Indians.

This will be a two-part series – the first exploring what to expect from the team as a whole in 2015 and the second focusing more on individual players. Continue reading

Community Season 6 – Greendale Isn’t the Same, But It’s Still Home

After five seasons and a cancellation on NBC, “Community” was rescued by Yahoo and the first two episodes of season six debuted on its new home at Yahoo Screen March 17, with new episodes weekly. Ed Carroll shares his thoughts on the first two episodes of Community’s improbable sixth season.

On camera, “Community” stars Joel McHale, Allison Brie, Danny Pudi, Ken Jeong, Gillian Jacobs and Jim Rash as Greendale Human Beings doing … something at Greendale Community College. First they were a study group. Then they were a committee. Now, they’re “a loose-knit group of students and teachers — none of whom are taking a class together.” The sixth season of “Community” is well-aware this isn’t really a show about a community college study group anymore.

It’s impossible to write about “Community” without mentioning the ride the cult show has been on behind the scenes. After going on a ‘indefinite hiatus’ midway through the third season, the show saw NBC fire creator and show runner Dan Harmon prior to the fourth season, which also saw original cast member Chevy Chase (finally) depart the series after expressing some pretty public displeasure about working on the show and with Harmon (and using a racial slur on set). Unfortunately, the fourth season was filmed out-of-order (as many sitcoms do), which led to some awkward episodes without a key cast member (in addition to lacking in quality). 41daf60adfba46b4c645a7001bf02b97

For the next two seasons, “Community” would be a mid-season replacement for whatever NBC comedy failed (aka pretty much all of them). After mediocre reviews for the new show runners in season four, NBC then ended up rehiring Harmon for a fifth season, only to lose another original cast member in Donald Glover about midway through the season (Glover’s exit was planned and handled on-screen better). Then NBC cancelled “Community,” officially, and Sony appeared unable to find a taker for the Human Beings until literally the last possible day to renew the show.

But even the transition to Yahoo Screen, the new home of “Community,” wasn’t entirely smooth. The biggest blow came soon after the renewal, when original cast member (and native Clevelander) Yvette Nicole Brown ( who played do-it-all mom and businesswoman Shirley Bennett) left the series to join CBS’s “The Odd Couple,” as a recurring role on that show provided her more time to be with a sick family member (Harmon has said the door is “wide open” for Brown to return as Bennett if she’s able to in the future). Jonathan Banks ended up being a major part of season five as criminology professor Buzz Hickey, but was unable to continue with “Community” as he joined the cast of “Better Call Saul,” returning to the role of Mike Ehrmantraut from “Breaking Bad” which made him famous. Season five also saw the return of John Oliver’s Ian Duncan to a prominent role in the show after two seasons away, but Oliver’s duties hosting “Last Week Tonight” will prevent more Duncanisms in season six. None of the departures were written out of the show (Banks and Oliver aren’t even mentioned in these episodes), but losing Brown in addition to two recurring characters who really helped the second half of the season after Glover’s departure already put season six in a huge hole.

But season six of “Community” is here, in spite of really everything against it.

No, this isn’t the same “Community” you fell in love with in 2009. “Community” knows this, too. But if the first two episodes of season six are any indication, the show still has life in it yet. Harmon has said he isn’t writing this season as if it’s the last (despite the #sixseasonsandamovie hashtag that fans have rallied behind since season three). But the show has indeed changed dramatically from even last season (let alone the pilot), and as Abed (Pudi) states so brilliantly to new character Frankie Dart (Paget Brewster), he’s worried her character signals the end of the show he’s come to know and love.

Community; Season 6; Episode 601We typically love television shows that are consistent; safe, reliable worlds we can return to time and again. Ever the rebel, “Community” is, either wisely or recklessly, attempting to embrace change and try to do its thing at the same time. The first two episodes of season six know the show has changed, and don’t try to hide it, but both “Ladders” and “Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care” found solace in some traditional “Community” humor: on-point self-commentary and Greendale Human Beings going all-in on something ridiculous. And, for the most part, it works. Not completely, but enough to make it still feel like the “Community” we loved before the move.

In “Ladders,” the season premier (which is apparently a class at Greendale, so no, the show isn’t abandoning its usual method of naming episodes after potential classes),  Abed deals with having Frankie, an insurance adjuster, around the campus and attempts to be the “normal one,” only to get wrapped up in a backdoor speakeasy inside Shirley’s Sandwiches, which Britta (Jacobs) is now running into the ground after Shirley ‘spun off.’ The episode features a slightly excessive four montages, but plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, such as Frankie flipping out on the speakeasy. “Lawnmower Maintenance …” saw Dean Pelton (Rash) get lost in a virtual reality world, which led to the introduction of the second new character to the show, Elroy Patashnik (Keith David) a former virtual reality programmer as well as the introduction of Britta’s parents — who are apparently familiar with the rest of the Greendale crew already.

Yeah, it feels weird seeing the two empty chairs at the study table (which hasn’t been studied on since … season three, maybe?) and the opening title sequence has a fewer names on it. Brewster brings a nice touch of humanity to her tough Frankie (David’s Elroy isn’t given enough screen time to judge), but the focus is mostly on the returning people, as it should be. Jeff is still cynical, Annie still driven, Abed is still meta and Britta is still the worst. The show is still funny, even though it might not be quite as brilliant as it once was; a little stability (something the show hasn’t had since season three) might help season six rise above the impressive but ultimately uneven season five. There’s a couple fun cameos from familiar “Community” guest stars, and the recurring cast of Greendale regulars get a few jokes in themselves (particularly Garrett and Leonard), but for the most part, it’s focusing on the familiar gang getting used to the unfamiliar faces.

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As far as experiencing the show on Yahoo Screen, it wasn’t without hiccups. I noticed the very last second of a segment being cut off by commercials, only to be shown before the next segment, and occasional (temporary) audio issues. That said, commercials were pretty reasonable (about one per break), and these episodes are actually slightly longer than their broadcast counterparts (at approximately 27 minutes and 30 seconds each). Unlike “Arrested Development” (which jumped from FOX to Netflix, making it the closest comparison to “Community’s” jump from NBC to Yahoo,), the extra time in “Community” isn’t too noticeable because the show is still funny (unlike in AD, where the extra time was painful), and it probably allows Harmon to indulge in some extended nonsense, such as the aforementioned four montages.

And while it would have been easy for Harmon to open fire on NBC for their treatment of the show now that he’s free on Yahoo, these episodes only take a couple of surprisingly-restrained shots at the show’s former home. There’s a big shot too awesome to spoil at the end of the first episode, but other than that, Harmon doesn’t let his show get wrapped up in the off-screen drama of, well, his show. “Community” also makes a few passing meta-mentions of moving to online, but again, nothing overdone.

“Community” is not the same show that it was in 2009. And if you want, you can probably make the argument that “Community” isn’t as good a show as it once was. I’m more thankful to be back in Greendale, and while there’s some wear and tear showing in its structure, “Community” seems off to a promising (re)start in season six.

Note: The sixth season of “Community” airs on Yahoo Screen, with new episodes every Tuesday. Check Everyone Hates Cleveland for regular reviews of each episode.

Will the Indians’ defense hold them back in 2015?

The Indians’ defense cost them a playoff berth in 2014.

Whether you watched every game or merely looked at the performance data, this is a conclusion that most fans come to.

This is, of course, a bold claim that cannot be established, though the metric defensive runs saved would cause us to estimate that their defense cost them an estimated seven wins, which allows us to make such a claim.

Defense is a continual frontier. Though we may be better able to estimate defensive skill, defensive value, we accept that at the margins, some flaws are imperceptible. This discussion of the Indians’ defense in 2015 will discuss defensive issues, which are easy to perceive a la the Indians leading MLB in errors with 116 in 2014 or issues which are harder to perceive like the unquantifiable range.

Continue reading

Powers Episodes 1-3 Review: PlayStation Takes a Risk

On March 10, the first three episodes of PlayStation’s first (and so far only) original scripted series, “Powers,” debuted on PlayStation Network, free to stream for anyone with a PlayStation system (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Vita) and a PlayStation Plus subscription. New episodes of “Powers,” based on the comic book series of the same name by Brian Michael Bendis, will release every Tuesday starting March 17. 

At its most basic form, “Powers” is a cop procedural in a comic book-type fantasy world. In the world of “Powers,” superheroes exist, are called ‘Powers’ for their abilities, although the nature of how the abilities manifest and work seems to be an inexact science at best (Note; I have not read the comic series). Many of the Powers have developed rock star personas thanks to their gifts and heroism, which is often pretty good for their bank accounts, too.

Secret identities are for suckers in “Powers.” In this world, there are people without powers but who want them, called “wannabes,” who hang around those with abilities, hoping to get a taste. Despite the existence of wannabes, Powers are still looked upon with some distrust and scorn, and the show makes it clear early on that even though there are superheroes in this world, none of the Powers are perfect. It’s a tad confusing at first, but the characters in “Powers” don’t seem to understand how things work in their world any better than we do as viewers, so it’s best to let some of the details go and get swept up in the mystery.

The series’ lead, Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley from “District 9” fame), used to be known as Diamond, one of the more-celebrated Powers, but lost his abilities somehow after a clash with Wolfe (British comedy icon Eddie Izzard), an especially deadly (and hungry) Power. Walker now works for the Los Angeles Police Department, in the Powers division, and the show’s first scene gives the viewer a glimpse at how unstable some of these abilities can be, with Walker’s partner killed by a Power and replaced quickly with Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward), who serves as our intro and window into how life works when some of the population has superpowers.

When a famous Power turns up dead in a hotel room with a young girl, Walker and Pilgrim are on the case, and it leads to a few names from Walker’s past as a Power. We’re bombarded with a lot of this information early on, but the world in “Powers” is just as interesting as the characters that inhabit it.

That said, all throughout the first three episodes of “Powers,” I couldn’t help but think this was a bit of a risky gamble for Sony’s PlayStation brand, which has released original (unscripted) programming in the past, but all of that had been video game related, and largely ignored. No, “Powers” isn’t a brand-new property, as it was first published in 2000, but even though Bendis might be a well-known name in comics today (he was one of the main architects of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe), this isn’t some beloved comic you grew up with as a child. A comic series such as Powers doesn’t have the built-in fanbase of a lesser character such as Daredevil (and Netflix has an upcoming series featuring Marvel’s man without fear), so there will probably be a few viewers going in blind (like I did).

Continue reading

Orbiting Cleveland: NFL quarterbacks and sustained success

Orbiting

(John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer)

(John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer)

$41.6 million. That’s the remaining dollar amount that the Cleveland Browns have available in cap space.

Why are they not using that to sign any high-level free agents? Well, that’s the $41.6 million question, isn’t it?

So far, the Browns’ two big moves this offseason have revolved around the signing of journeyman quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Brian Hartline. Both players were cut from their previous team, and neither signing has created much of a buzz within the fan base.

The criticism that this franchise has faced since 1999 has become laughable at this point. Every year, it seems to be the same story with the Browns, and EHC’s Brian McPeek helped outline that a couple weeks ago in his piece, Set Your Watch By It.

I, too, have been critical of the Browns. This was true no less than three days ago when it was falsely reported that the Browns had re-signed tight end Jordan Cameron, only to watch him bolt to the Miami Dolphins just hours later. Same-old Browns, right?

Call me crazy though, but when it comes to the Browns’ conservative approach to free agency, this is one instance where I have to say that I’m on board. Completely.

Let’s take you for a trip down memory lane.

January 18, 2004. Do you remember that date? Continue reading

Running the Bases on a Lazy Sunday

(photo: Al Ciammaichella)

I’ll start off this week by begging your pardon for the brevity of this week’s Lazy…an over-aggressive work/travel schedule this week plus friends from out of town prevented me from getting any sort of meaningful writing time. But there were some great Tribe-centric articles floating around the interwebs this week that I wanted to be sure to highlight here, so I wanted to get something on to virtual paper even if it’s not the usual 5-6,000 word effort. I promise that next week will more than make up for it, as I have something special in store to help cure your post-St. Patty’s Day hangovers. If not though, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to The DiaTribe, Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, Cleveland, OH to receive your full refund (purchase price minus small convenience and restocking fees, of course). With that bit of housecleaning out of the way, let’s jump right in to all (ok, most) of the news that’s fit to link…

 
Francisco Lindor is a guy who I’ve spent plenty of time talking about for the last few years, so I’m not going to spend a lot of space on him this week. But I did want to highlight an article from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that focused on Lindor, because Crasnick is normally a guy who covers the MLB beat. It’s a little unusual to see him write an article focusing solely on a prospect. Crasnick (a closet Indians fan) includes a pretty telling quote from veteran infielder Mike Aviles:

Continue reading

The greatest Indians third baseman, Al Rosen, dead at 91

1One of the All-Time Indians’ greats is gone.

Al Rosen, perhaps the greatest Tribe third baseman of all-time, passed away Friday night at the age of 91. While his career was relatively short, his impact on the game goes far beyond just his 1953 MVP award for the Indians, and his 1987 Executive of the Year award with the San Francisco Giants.

Rosen encompassed the game of baseball throughout his life, and with Bob Feller, was a true ambassador of the game of baseball.

In honor of Rosen, here’s a piece I originally wrote in January of 2013 documenting the best third basemen throughout the history of the Indians’ organization. Obviously, cream rises to the top, and so did Rosen. Here are my rankings of the best Indians’ third baseman, and my ode to Al Rosen. Continue reading