The Sunday Drive with the Cavs, Manziel, Tribe stars, trade deadline selling, Andrew Wiggins’ jerseys, Global Force Wrestling and Julio Cesar

LeBronThis is the Sunday Drive.

What is it?

Every writer at our site here at Everybody Hates Cleveland has 500 words or so to speak their mind about whatever they want. It’s varied. It’s topical. It’s all-over-the-place.

It’s the Sunday Drive.

Today, we’ll weave from the Cavaliers, Andrew Wiggins and KevLove, to Johnny Manziel, the fallacy of Tribe superstars, The Indians selling coup d’etat, Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling and goalie Julio Cesar.

We’ll either teach you something, bore you, give you something worthwhile to read each Sunday, or something to revile.

Hell, it could be all of the above, couldn’t it?

The Andrew Wiggins jersey predicament–Steve Orbanek

There is just no end in sight for the Kevin Love trade saga.

This past week, several new developments came to light, which could prove key as the Cleveland Cavaliers accelerate their pursuit of the All-Star power forward.

The first piece of news released suggested that the Cavaliers have not yet formally offered No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins in any package. In fact, Tony Rizzo of ESPN Cleveland suggested that the news of Wiggins being offered came directly from Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders, who’s been trying to drive up the trade market for Love.

Classy move Flip.

That’s just the beginning though. Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico has since reported that Love has demanded a trade to the Cavaliers, and he then withdrew from Team USA on Saturday because of the current trade speculation.

This sure seems to be setting up for a trade to Cleveland, right?

Well, that definitely remains the case, but the Cavaliers now have leverage. If Love indeed is only open to playing in Cleveland, then one would think the Cavs could acquire the talented forward at a discounted rate.

There’s also one other piece of information here that has not been discussed. Take a look at an excerpt of an email that I received Thursday:

Thank you for shopping at the Cavaliers Team Shop. Your order has shipped. Below is your confirmation. Please keep a copy for your records.

Items Ordered Price Qty Discount Total
Andrew Wiggins Swingman JerseyColor: GOLDSize: MEDIUM $49.50 1 $0.00 $49.50

So, perhaps I am being a tad too optimistic here, but what team sends out jerseys of a player just to trade him and deal with the backlash from a bunch of unhappy customers?

thumb.aspxI actually ordered the jersey the day after the Cavaliers drafted Wiggins, and was later informed that the jersey would ship after the team officially signed Wiggins to a contract. Sure enough, on Thursday, just hours after Wiggins signed, I received the confirmation email.

This could mean nothing. After all, what would it really cost for Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to waste dollars on making Wiggins jerseys? The guy is a billionaire, so we’re talking about pennies here.

However, how many Wiggins jerseys were ordered after draft night? A modest estimate is 5,000, and it’s likely more than that. A number in the ballpark of 10,000 to 20,000 might be more realistic.

Are the Cavs willing to take that public relations blow and deal with angry emails from thousands of fans? Perhaps. But it’s still a point to consider.

At the very least, the fact that the team has printed and shipped Wiggins jerseys seems to suggest that the team has not yet offered the talented swingman to the Timberwolves.

It might also suggest that they’re not looking to offer him anytime soon. The fact that Love has made his intentions clear and wants to be in Cleveland has changed the game.

Consider this starting lineup for a minute. Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao.

It could happen, and we’re a lot closer to it happening today than we have been at any other point this offseason.

Consumed with the Cavaliers–Jim Pete

I find myself absolutely consumed with the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers, and whether or not they should trade Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love.

I’m absolutely consumed by the choices.

I don’t have to sell people on Kevin Love. I mean, I’ve heard a lot of people talking Kevin Love down, which is laughable.

“He’s not a rim protector.”

“He’s not a winner.”

“He does this on crappy teams.”

Seriously?

Kevin Love is one of the 10-to-15 best players in the NBA. You can argue that all you want, but he’s an elite scorer, and he’s an elite rebounder, and he’s in his prime. He’s a swing-four that can legit bury you from behind the arc, then go inside and put his back to the basket and do the same.

He’ll kill you on the boards.

I could make a seriously legitimate case that KevLove is the singular best player that LeBron would ever play with, including Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Kevin Love is a stud.

But…what’s the Cavs’ rush?

Flip Saunders hasn’t dealt him for a reason…nobody has an offer good enough. Saunders could have dealt Love prior to the draft for a slew of assets, if that’s the route he wanted to go, and he didn’t.

Is the Cavs’ offer better?

Was the offer to Golden State better?

What about the current crop of Cavaliers? What about Bennett, and Waiters and Wiggins, who are supposedly in this trade? Waiters is ready to start his third season, and COULD be a really good player in this league, even with the attitude. Could he be Harden-like? I don’t think so, but I do think he could be Eric Bledsoe-like, circa-2013-2014.

Bennett is healthy, and has similarities to KevLove’s game. I’m not saying he goes THAT far, but he could compliment well.

Waiters is a great fill-in. Look, he’s a little guy at 200 pounds, and NBA-swings are going to push him all over the place. He’s NOT LeBron-like first year, because LeBron has always looked like an NBA linebacker, but as a defensive specialist finding his way?

Throw Kyrie in there and Tristan Thompson.

Shouldn’t the Cavaliers find out what they have now, before coveting others?

The answer is yes. Let Flip Saunders sweat it out…I mean..we have LeBron James!

The Irritating Myth of “The Little Engine That Could”–Michael Hattery

Twitter is a truly awful place to be when looking for insightful commentary or original ideas surrounding any concept, particularly sports. I enjoy it quite a bit in order to peruse many smart wits and enjoyably creative baseball minds. Never- the- less, it is also the home of the self-made analyst, the self-made “journalist”. These people generally begin thoughts with “I’ve always said” or “The first time I saw him, I saw this coming”- this self-important baseball sophistry is a mark of the modern blogosphere.

Setting all of this aside, I was particularly irked by a recent opinion of this Indians team that seems to be wildly popular. It was spoken that the Indians, while lacking the star power of the Tigers, were competitive because they “believed” , “played as a team”. There are a few issues which we need to clear up.

The first is what a “cohesive baseball team” means. Baseball as a team sport is ultimately a paradox, it is seemingly impossible to outperform the sum of your parts because each part has to specifically affect run creation or run prevention. Thus, while players may outperform or underperform past production, the team is really the sum of individual players. In order to win a wild card spot, and continue to compete, there must be talent.

Secondarily, is the definition of star. I am of the volition that stars are generally defined as good or great performers in large media market. To be recognized for being a star in a small media market like Cleveland, you must be an exceptional talent, a la Lebron James a transcendent all-time great. Even during the Indians 90’s success, Belle and Ramirez were often underappreciated despite receiving national exposure during the playoffs.

According to F-WAR, Corey Kluber is the third best pitcher in Major League Baseball this season. In reality if I were to list starters I would rather have for the next three years, it would include: Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw, and perhaps one or two others, but I would need to be convinced by someone else.  Even if we just say he is a top 5-10 pitcher in baseball, it is what I would deem to be a “star”.

Let’s look at position players. While I am very much attached to a certain Yan Gomes, we will use the plebian favorite, Michael Brantley. When writing in a relatively cursory manner, I support the use of WAR for context empty, player valuation. Thus, according to WAR, Brantley is a top fifteen position player in MLB, and projects to eclipse 5 WAR. Yeah, that is super good. If Michael Brantley wore pinstripes or Dodger Blue, he would be a star of high magnitude.

The Indians are a top 8 offense and will be when the season ends. They have some good and even elite players; they are a flawed team with a rotation that has yet to establish itself 3-5.  Corey Kluber is a “star”; Michael Brantley is a “star”.

Anyone who feeds this little engine that could notion, the recycling of old team sports aphorisms is merely wasting space upon which useful words could be affixed.

The Trade Deadline Loves Cleveland–John Grimm

A phone rings in Cleveland, Ohio, and Chris Antonetti, ever eager to align the hell out of values, picks up a call from one whom his office assistant calls ‘Vin Scully.’ Either funny or irritating – Antonetti had never decided what his secretary’s speech patterns were.

“Hey, Ned,” Antonetti opens.

“Chris, how’s it going. You’re looking to deal Asdrubal – or, sorry, you’re listening to offers. What are you looking for in return?”

“We want Julio Urias for Asdrubal,” Antonetti deadpans.

“Very funny; you know Julio’s off the table.”

Antonetti chuckles, “Yes, I understand. Well, I’m hearing a lot of offers on Asdrubal – you could really set yourself apart by putting together a package around Freddie Cabrera.”

“Freddie Cabrera – the 24-year-old pitcher at AA who had spent the previous four seasons in High A ball?”

“That’s the one,” Antonetti replies. “Hello?” The GM gazes at the phone bewildered, as the call had broken off – a call with what appeared, he realized, to have a Massachusetts area code.

*****

A Red Sox baseball operations employee carried triumph into the GM’s office. “You wanted a centerpiece for a Jon Lester trade? Freddie Cabrera.”

*****

Were one to indulge in gambling metaphors, Cavs GM David Griffin might be said to have hit the jackpot this offseason. To continue that metaphor, the Indians front office has won the Pick3 lottery 849,327 times.

Kipnis, Chisenhall, Allen, Crockett, Perez and Salazar are the full complement of Cleveland’s organizational talent currently on the roster. Cleveland has – with aplomb! – failed to draft successfully; Saturday, former 1st round pick Jeremy Guthrie took the hill against Cleveland and surrendered five runs. Guthrie is the shining success story from the early 2000s drafts.

The fact that Cleveland is near .500 at all in spite of the Beau Mills drafts and the mid-market payroll is because of its trades, and a brief trek into The Past makes very clear how. The last time Cleveland was a seller in a trade, the Diamondbacks surrendered Trevor Bauer. The last minor trade in which the Indians were a seller, they acquired Yan Gomes in exchange for a pitcher who has been DFA’d. In previous trades, Cleveland acquired Zach McAllister for half a season of Austin Kearns, and Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo for half-seasons from both Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez.

In the upcoming days, Cleveland is reasonably likely to trade Asdrubal Cabrera; also reasonably likely is that every single major league club continues to hate Cleveland because – with shocking frequency – they extract average-to-star players in exchange for the most marginal of marginal improvements. It’s as though the Indians had acquired Kluber in exchange for half a season of Jake Westbrook.

(Jake Westbrook actually put up 1.2 WAR for the rest of 2010 season after he was traded. See, Cleveland isn’t out to screw the league!)

Cleveland is a team built on a last-minute flipping of players and on PTBNLs. If another organization used Cleveland’s preference of fringe 24-year-old AA players as a talent-evaluative mechanism, it would be without debate the most unhinged strategy in the history of the league.

At the same time, as far as clinically insane strategies go, a team could do a whole lot worse.

Are you ready to join ‘The Force?’–Brian Andrews

This Sunday, I’m going to take a long drive. I’m not going to just drive around town. I’m not going to drive across the great state of Pennsylvania, nor am I going to drive across this beautiful nation of ours, the United States of America. This Sunday, I’m going to take a drive around the world.

That’s right guys, Global Force Wrestling is upon us! If you haven’t yet, check out their youtube channel and see what they have to offer. #TheJourney is becoming one of my favorite series to check in on. If you were a fan of TNA back when they were, you know, good, then rejoice, good people! This new company has a great potential to find a new “reality” in professional wrestling. They already come off with a unique feel, and the programming to this point has been spot on. I myself have been keeping my ear to the ground regarding GFW for some time now, and I am pleased to share that the movement is growing at a very fast pace!

Global Force has announced partnerships with several wrestling companies around the world including AAA in Mexico, IGF and New Japan Pro Wrestling out of, you know, Japan, as well as several European promotions covering the United Kingdom and Germany.

To say that this piques my interest is an understatement. Could we see the natural evolution of the old territory days coming to life? Stay tuned, my children, and be sure to #JoinTheForce.

Cesar back to QPR is a good thing for TFC by Josh Riesen

Harry Redknapp has assembled a team responsible for more collective sadness than the entire city of Cleveland.

Returning to the city of London will let Julio Cesar fade into semi-secure obscurity. He will back up the infamous Robert Green, responsible for the worst goalkeeping mistake ever seen in the group stage. Which makes Cesar’s seven goals allowed against Germany tame by comparison.

Cesar could also be sold to keep big spending manager Redknapp from bankrupting the team. Regardless whether the former Brazilian international ends up in London or somewhere else by the transfer deadline, he has left Toronto and that’s opportunity calling for Toronto.

Cesar at Loftus Road will make Toronto FC a better soccer team. Cesar joined Toronto after failing to find minutes in the second division of English football. His move was hailed as the new birth of soccer in Toronto. Cesar, Michael Bradley, and Jermain Defoe were the big names that were to lead a bad Toronto team up the MLS table.

Toronto has improved vastly from the 2012 and 2013 versions that were outscored by a combined 50 goals. No longer the doormat of MLS this was the right time to lose Cesar. With a salary cap slightly above four million dollars, the Brazilian keeper was a luxury that Toronto could not afford.

During his seven games in Toronto Cesar was little more than an average goalkeeper. While he was a name that registered with the soccer watching population, his play did not. Cesar had a 67% save percentage. This was the league average. Alarming when considering the small difference between Cesar and his backup. It was fractional, in fact. Value above replacement is absolutely critical. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with average, except when it relates to opportunity cost, or perhaps more appropriately, talent cost.

As a non-designated player, Cesar salary of $190,000 cut heavily into the pool of available cash to improve the rest of the roster. Designated player Gilberto is arguably the least effective million dollar player in the league. Toronto does not have an efficient roster. That $190,000 can be used to purchase a promising young striker, or an attacking player to try to open up spaces for Gilberto.

Toronto was already paying Joe Bendik $140,000 to play behind Cesar. While neither of these figures is absurd for a starting goalkeeper, $330,000 is far too much to spend on the two. Goalkeepers aren’t worth that investment.

MLS is an exception where the ability to buy talent is not limited solely by the wealth of the ownership. With a team on the rise and a struggling DP in Gilberto, the time was right for Cesar to leave regardless of QPR’s wishes.

Now let’s hope he can handle another season with ‘Arry

The Johnny Manziel Watch–Jim Pete

With the start of training camp, the Cleveland Browns have officially entered the “Johnny Manziel” era.

I’m just not really sure what that means yet.

Will the “Johnny Manziel” era be all about playoff runs and Super Bowl contention?

Will the “Johnny Manziel” era be all about clubs, Bieber, tightly-rolled bills and clubbing?

Will the “Johnny Manziel” era go the route of Tim Tebow?

On the field, Brian Hoyer is the current #1 quarterback, even though  Browns’ Head Coach Mike Pettine said that the job was up for grabs. Hoyer took all the reps with the Browns’ #1 unit on Saturday’s first day of camp, with Manziel taking all the #2 unit reps, and while day one shouldn’t be the indicator for the rest of camp, it’s certainly where the mindset is with both the front office, and the coaching staff.

And Manziel?

“I’ve made some rookie mistakes,” Manziel said just prior to the opening of camp when asked about his off-season shenanigans. “There’s some things I wish I could have gone back and done a little differently, but continue to move forward and try and represent this organization and this team in a positive manner and a positive light.”

Look. I could sit here at wax poetically about Manziel’s off-field behavior and find a way to connect it to their mercurial (and soon-to-be-suspended) wide receiver, Josh Gordon.

Obviously, Manziel has been on the off season radar since he was arrested in College Station prior to his first start, followed by a slew of other issues, which included getting kicked out of a University of Texas frat party and an ESPN: The Magazine article in which is parents expressed concerns about how he was handling his celebrity.

At the end of the day, what counts with regards to Johnny Manziel is whether or not he can become the #1 starter on this team, and how well he performs on the field. The off-the-field stuff is just that….for now.

Is he distracting?

Yes, to us, because the media and fans love Johnny Football. It’s a brand. He’s LeBron’s friend. He’s Drake’s friend. He’s Bieber’s friend. He’s a 21-year-old media phenom.

But, is he distracting to his teammates?

That’s the real question. ‘What Johnny Manziel has been doing this summer’ likely hasn’t been a blip on the radar for many of the veteran players for the Browns, other than the fact that they might be planning on upgrading his rookie duties going forward. It’s not like Manziel’s lifestyle is all that different from theirs.

The key will be how hard he works. The key will be whether or not he learns the playbook and excels. The key will be how relevant he becomes on the field.

Why do people care about Josh Gordon? Because he quite possibly is the most talented wide receiver in football, who clearly hasn’t learned about his mistakes.

Step one for Manziel shouldn’t be what he’s doing off the field, but what he’s doing to become relevant on the field.

Step two is for the Browns to put some things in place to curtail the off-the-field stuff before Gordon-like incidents ensue.

To that end, Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam was asked about Manziel’s comments.

“I think Johnny said it well…he made some rookie mistakes, and I think the really great athletes make their news on the field and not off the field.”

There was some undercurrent there, as though perhaps Haslam and Pettine had a conversations with their first round draft pick about how he’s been handling himself.

That’s the way you handle things…head on.

When Haslam was asked whether the “learn from your mistakes” message  has sunk in yet, and he simply replied, “We’ll see…”

For now, the Browns’ organization will enjoy that Manziel is the #1 selling NFL jersey, and that Browns merchandise is up to #3 NFL-wide, behind Seattle and San Francisco. They’ll enjoy the renewed vigor in season and single-ticket purchases. They’ll also enjoy the added attendance to Training Camp.

Let’s just hope that the off-the-field hype eventually turns into on-the-field gold.

We’ll see indeed.

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