January 2008

You know that saying we as Cleveland fans have? You know the one I’m talking about. “Wait Until Next Year”. It’s our unofficial mantra. Well, it’s time to embrace that concept. I’m happy to announce the launching of a new blog, WaitingForNextYear.

I have teamed up with Rick of Halftime Adjustments and Scott of Cleveland Sports Minute to start the new site. You can expect my same contributions at the new site, but things will be even bigger and better with the new staff. More writers means more insights and more posts. Our goal was to team up to provide Cleveland fans the most thorough and most insightful looks at Cleveland sports news as we possibly could. I think you will all enjoy the new site, and I look forward to seeing you all over at the new site. So please come check us out:


Thanks again for reading! Here’s to many more years of Cleveland Sports coverage…



As you have probably noticed, I’ve been a little absent lately. Well, it’s with good reason. In the next few days, I will be making a major announcement regarding the future of this site. It’s all good news, and it will lead to bigger and better things, so bear with me as I am preparing the next step of this site. More details to come….

GamBlog LogoPicks Of The Week – January 22, 2008

Matt is back with this week’s picks. Congrats to Matt and his wife on the birth of their first child, a healthy baby boy. But not even the birth of his son could stop Matt from making this weeks picks, so here he is with the picks. As always, have fun with these, these are not gambling picks, just picks for the fun of it.

mjgreg’s GAMBLOG
featuring our picks of the week

NBA Edition

Phoenix Suns (30 – 12) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (23-18)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Friday, January 25, 2008
7:00 PM EST

Back on November 4th, the Phoenix Suns beat the Cleveland Cavaliers by 11 points in the desert. However, you have to remember that was the third game of the season and the Cavs were without the services of Anderson Varejao. The Cavaliers come into this game riding a 5 game winning streak (their longest of the season), while the Suns coming off of a loss have only lost back to back games twice this season. The key for both teams is actually pretty simple. The Cavaliers need to slow down Steve Nash, and the Suns need to contain Lebron James. While the key is simple to recognize, it won’t be nearly as easy to carry out on the hard wood. I see the Cavaliers of the last few weeks continuing to keep up their intensity on the defensive side of the ball and the Suns finding ways to exploit it. That being said, Lebron will keep this game close and give the Cavs a chance to make a run in the 4th quarter. I anticipate the spread being around minus five or six in favor of the Suns. This is a tough decision that I just can’t seem to take my heart out of. I’ll take the Cavs and the points, but will be pleasantly surprised if they pull out the victory.

Official prediction:

Phoenix Suns – 100
Cavaliers – 96 (+6)

mjgreg’s current record ATS is 2-0

Miami Heat logoCleveland Cavaliers (21-18) vs Miami Heat (8-29)
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
Monday, January 21, 2008
8:00 PM EST

It’s always fun when LeBron and Wade meet up and square off. Traditionally, their matchups against one another have been highly competitive and a blast to watch. Will this change now that the Heat find themselves in the midst of a 13 game losing streak, or will the challenge of facing his good friend cause Wade to elevate his team to a much needed streak-snapping victory?

Starting Lineups

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-G Larry Hughes (9.2 ppg, 2.2 apg, 28.8% 3pt, 7.94 PER)
-G Sasha Pavlovic (7.1 ppg, 1.6 apg, 27.6% 3pt, 5.89 PER)
-F LeBron James (29.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 7.5 apg, 30.15 PER)
-F Drew Gooden (11.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 0.6 bpg, 13.17 PER)
-C Zydrunas Ilgauskas (13.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 18.01 PER)

Miami Heat:

-G Jason Williams (8.9 ppg, 5.2 apg, 1.4 spg, 12.41 PER)
-G Dwyane Wade (24.4 ppg, 6.7 apg, 25.0% 3pt, 22.17 PER)
-F Dorell Wright (6.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 14.14 PER)
-F Udonis Haslem (12.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 0.4 bpg, 13.40 PER)
-C Shaquille O’Neal (14.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 18.53 PER)

Team Efficiency Stats

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-Offense (96.4 ppg, 44.5 rpg, .434 FG%, .717 FT%, 19.1 apg, Efficiency-100.7, Rank-20)
-Defense (98.5 ppg, 41.8 rpg, .461 FG%, Efficiency-103.4, Rank-17)

Miami Heat:

-Offense (93.3 ppg, 38.8 rpg, .460 FG%, .693 FT%, 19.8 apg, Efficiency-99.0, Rank-27)
-Defense (100.1 ppg, 41.4 rpg, .464 FG%, Efficiency-105.3, Rank-25)

Game Notes

The Cavs find themselves playing yet another team that plays no defense. Additionally, the Heat have no offensive identity, they don’t rebound well, and they just don’t win games in general. On paper, this is a team the Cavaliers should beat handily (and there just aren’t many teams I would say that about). But that’s on paper. In real life, on tyhe court, the Cavaliers, and LeBron in general, tend to bring out the best in Dwyane Wade. The Cavaliers have struggled to defend the perimeter all season, and with the Cavaliers sure to focus so much attention on Wade, some open shots will be there. In general, though, this is an offensively challenged team and if Cleveland plays with the kind of defensive intensity they are capable of, they should really be able to limit the Heat’s output in this game.

For the Cavaliers, they will look to get continued good play from the bench. Varejao will be key in helping the Cavs dominate the smaller Heat lineup on the boards, as well as defending Shaq. Daniel Gibson, who has hit a 3 pointer in 25 straight games (2nd only to Mark Price’s 34 stragith in franchise history) and who is 3rd in the NBA in 3 pointers made and 3 point percentage, must continue to get his shots in. LeBron needs to just be himself and stay agressive, while Z and Gooden need to take advantage of some big time scoring chances when Shaq goes to the bench (which he does quite frequently these days). The Cavaliers will lose this game only if one of two things happens…..either Dwyane Wade has a Superman game, which he does from time to time, or the Cavaliers overlook the Heat and don’t come out with energy.

Vegas Line

Miami +3.5
Over/Under 187

GamBlog LogoPicks Of The Week – January 17, 2008

Loyal reader Matt has asked to write a ‘Picks Of The Week’ segment for the Cleveland Sports Authority, and I decided it seemed like a great idea, so I am pleased to announce the first segment of ‘GAMBLOG’. Once a week Matt will give you his picks of the week against the spread. Enjoy these, and don’t take them too seriously. Matt is not an expert, just an enthusiast. So if you take his advice and lose some money, don’t expect compensation from Matt. Although, if you win some money, Cleveland Sports Authority will gladly take 10% for giving you such great picks. Enjoy, and take these for what they’re worth.

mjgreg’s GAMBLOG
featuring our picks of the week

Championship weekend edition

Sunday, January 20th @ 3:00 PM on CBS
San Diego vs
New England -14 at Gillette Stadium

This week marks two of the larger spreads in recent championship weekend memory. New England could obviously bust out a 14 point victory on any given Sunday; I just don’t see it happening with this much at stake against a pesky San Diego team that has won 8 games in a row. Both teams have distractions this week, the Chargers are suffering from multiple player injuries and the Patriots allegedly have players inflicting injuries on civilians. However, I don’t think either will play a big part on Sunday. I look for the Chargers to make a game out it for three quarters, with the Patriots pulling away in usual fashion winning by 13 points and making most gamblers sweat to the final snap.

Official prediction:

New England 34
San Diego 21


Sunday, January 20th @ 6:30 PM on FOX
New York vs
Green Bay -7 at Lambeau Field

The late game features two teams I never expected to make it to the NFC Championship game at the beginning of the season. The Giants lost their biggest offensive contributor in Tiki Barber to retirement, and the Packers seemed destined for another season hovering around .500. The Packers came flying out of the gates and never let up, and the Giants flew under the radar all the way until week 17 when they gave New England a scare. I have never seen a team gain so much confidence from a loss, but Eli and the Giants have seemed to pull together and are putting together a captivating run. Unfortunately for them, no one is more fascinating than Brett Favre and legend of Lambeau Field. Nobody wins in the playoffs at Lambeau besides the Packers, with the exception of Vick’s Falcons a few years back. Along with the rest of the country, I’m pulling for Favre to get back to the Super Bowl. The cold weather and bruising defenses help keep this a relatively low scoring game, but the Packers prevail with a game winning field goal as time expires. Giants cover, but Eli will have to wait another year to chase his brother’s fame.

Official prediction:

Green Bay 20
New York 17

San Antonio SpursCleveland Cavaliers (20-18) vs San Antonio Spurs (25-11)
SBC Center, San Antonio, TX
Thursday, January 17, 2008
8:00 PM EST

Ready or not, it’s rematch time. A rematch of the team that crushed the Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals in a heartbreaking sweep. The good news is this game finds the Cavaliers playing some of their best basketball of the season (although, admittedly, that’s not saying a whole lot). The Spurs have won 3 in a row, while the Cavaliers have won 2 straight and 8 of their last 10.

Starting Lineups

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-G Larry Hughes (9.4 ppg, 2.4 apg, 29.3% 3-pt, 8.17 PER)
-G Sasha Pavlovic (7.2 ppg, 1.7 apg, 28.4% 3-pt, 5.81 PER)
-F LeBron James (29.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 7.5 apg, 30.36 PER)
-F Drew Gooden (12.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 0.7 bpg, 13.39 PER)
-C Zydrunas Ilgauskas (13.2 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 17.96 PER)

San Antonio Spurs:

-G Tony Parker (20.1 ppg, 6.6 apg, 0.7 spg, 21.13 PER)
-G Michael Finley (10.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 12.54 PER)
-F Bruce Bowen (5.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.3 apg, 7.24 PER)
-F Tim Duncan (18.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 24.78 PER)
-C Fabricio Oberto (5.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, o.3 bpg, 15.79 PER)

Team Efficiency Stats

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-Offense (96.6 ppg, 44.5 rpg, .433 FG%, .717 FT%, 19.1 apg, Efficiency-100.6, Rank-21)
-Defense (98.7 ppg, 41.9 rpg, .461 FG%, Efficiency-103.5, Rank-18)

San Antonio Spurs:

-Offense (97.9 ppg, 41.7 rpg, .458 FG%, .755 FT%, 22.2 apg, Efficiency-107.0, Rank-6)
-Defense (92.0 ppg, 39.4 rpg, .456 FG%, Efficiency-100.2, Rank-5)

Game Notes

As I mentioned, the Cavs are playing well right now. In particular, LeBron James has been on a monstrous tear as of late. In his last 7 games, LeBron is averaging 33.4 points, shooting 52.9% from the floor, netting 9.9 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. Even more impressive has been LeBron’s 4th quarter performances, where LeBron has turned into an absolute mercenary. Over those same 7 games, in the 4th quarter LBJ is averaging 12.6 points on 56.9% shooting. For the season, LBJ leads all NBA players in 4th quarter scoring at 9.6 ppg (2nd is Joe Johnson at 6.5 ppg). In fact, for the season, LeBron has more double digit scoring 4th quarters (15) than anyone else (2nd is Kobe with 11). Bench production has been up as of late for the Cavaliers as well, as over the last 4 games the bench is averaging 39 points per game, led by strong performances by Daniel Gibson, Andy Varejao, and Devin Brown.

Believe it or not, the Cavs have won their last 3 regular season matchups against the Spurs. Big Z has been a big part of the reason, averaging 15.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game over his last 9 games against the Spurs. The good news ends there. The Cavs have to go from one extreme to the other, going from Memphis’s defense to the Spurs’ defense. The Spurs are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and they boast one of the NBA’s most efficient offenses. The Spurs are great at adapting to any style of game, and they will look to stifle LeBron with Bruce Bowen while taking advantage of the soft defense of the Cav’s perimeter defense. Just as he did in the NBA Finals, expect Tony Parker to look to abuse the Cavs with his penetration. If the Cavs want to have a chance in this game, they must control the boards, cut off Parker’s penetration, and find creative ways to get LeBron going on offense. If the Cavs can run some pick and rolls with LBJ and either Z or Andy early, and then hit Gibson and maybe even Damon Jones for some timely 3 pointers, the Cavs just might be able to find some success. Either way, this game will be a nice measuring stick game to see where the team really is at this juncture of the season.

Vegas Line

San Antonio -7.5
Over/Under 183.5

CC SabathiaIndians Holding Back On Years For Sabathia

Sometimes the writing on the wall is so obvious, it hurts. The writing on this wall was so bright it served as a blinding beacon. For the past year, I have been telling anyone who would listen that the main factor that is going to prevent CC Sabathia from re-signing with the Tribe was going to be the number of years, not the number of dollars.

Well, it appears that this is exactly what is happening. It’s a story that has gone by surprisingly quietly without a lot written about it, but GM Mark Shapiro has indeed made the Indians’ proposal to Sabathia and his agent. And wouldn’t you know it, the Sabathia camp is not happy at all with the number of years being offered.

I first noticed this story a few days ago in one of the “Hey, Hoynsie” articles in the Plain Dealer. In that article, a question was asked of Paul Hoynes about the Sabathia contract,

“Q: Hey, Hoynsie: What’s up with C.C. Sabathia? Has there been a formal offer made by the Tribe? – Mark Lasher, Bangor, Pa.

A: Hey, Mark: GM Mark Shapiro confirmed that the offer has been made, but would say nothing else. The length of the contract, rather than the money involved, is expected to be a problem. Sabathia’s agents believe he’s earned a lengthy deal (five to seven years), but it’s unlikely the Indians would be willing to make that kind of commitment. It’s doubtful these negotiations will reach any kind of conclusion until the start of the regular season.”

Without any kind of disclosure about the terms of the proposal, it’s hard to comment. Over at Baseball Prospectus, John Perrotto offered a little insight into the negotiations, writing,

“Cleveland left-hander C.C. Sabathia will have a tough decision in the upcoming months, as he must decide whether to re-sign with the Indians or become a free agent at the end of the 2008 season. The Indians are expected to hold firm at an offer of four years and an option, while Sabathia–who genuinely wants to stay in Cleveland–will likely look for a contract similar to what Santana is seeking should he be traded.”

For his part, Tim Dierkes over at mlbtraderumors.com speculates what the Indians’ max offer might be,

“Realistically, I think the Indians could top out around four years, $72MM plus an option for 2013 in their offer to Sabathia. Will Sabathia make that concession, or will he go for the free market and maybe get seven years, $140MM?”

In all honesty, I’m surprised this hasn’t been written about any more than it has. I really wish we knew for certain what the Indians’ official offer really is. If the Indians are offering 4 years, and Sabathia would sign for 5 years, it seems hard to believe that gap couldn’t be bridged. Taken at face value, I would expect the Indians to eventually back down and guarantee the 5th year of the deal. It’s hard to make an argument that Sabathia hasn’t earned it. But again, we are only speculating at this point. Until we know for sure the true dollar figures involved, we can’t draw a line in the sand on this issue. Patience will be a virtue on this topic it seems.

I’ll try to keep updating this story as more is learned and as time draws on. With pitchers and catchers due to report before too long, it would be nice to see this time used to make some headway in closing the gap between the two sides. Nobody wants this cloud hanging over the team all season. It will be a major distraction and will just be bad business for everyone involved.

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