Out to lunch in Cleveland

Left to right: Manziel, Sandoval, and Rondo.

During the 2014 World Series, Pablo Sandoval (center) accounted for 30% of his teams runs while playing a stellar third base. It was not enough to earn him co-MVP, however, as it would have cost Chevrolet a second free car.

The 2014 year-in-sports will chiefly be remembered for the ugly suspensions; as a pair of all-pro running backs, Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, no thanks to their irrepressible actions off the field, were resorted to football competition of the fantasy realm.

In sharp contrast, on the field there also happened to be a pair of losers that managed to hypnotize spectators. The 8th seed University of Kentucky men’s basketball program made one of the most exhilarating runs in tournament history before falling to UConn in the championship game. The Kansas City Royals, futility savants for the majority of the last 30 years, were also just one win away from earning a World Series title of their own.

As for the fast approaching 2015, it was a pair of moves Cleveland franchises lost out on that will come back to haunt the diehards for years to come.

The NFL’s Browns have just two quarterbacks on their roster. The veteran, Brian Hoyer, would turn in his clean ACL if it meant getting another start, let alone keep his career going. The heralded rookie, John Manziel, perhaps the most popular football player to never win an NFL game, has shown no signs that he understands what it takes to act like a pro.

As reported during the FOX telecast three weeks ago, two hours before kickoff with the Browns in playoff contention, then starting QB Hoyer was warming up for a 1 o’clock start against Indianapolis. Where was Manziel? Entering the stadium. The biggest football game in Cleveland in over a decade, with just one play away from Andrew Luck being his counterpart and “Johnny Football” probably thought he was early for work.

Manziel received his first start the following week, at home against Cincinnati. The Browns were shut out.

While Manziel clearly doesn’t get how to lead by example, it’s not his fault. Blame the organization. The last thing a guy like Brian Hoyer wants, coming off a major knee injury and a free agent to-be at the end of the season, is to befriend and mentor a guy drafted to take his job outright. A job provision the Browns could have hired another veteran signal caller for, and didn’t, was to show an ignorant celebrity like Manziel how to be a professional quarterback.

Manning had his old man show him the ropes. Luck had his father and Jim Harbaugh. Brady had it with Bledsoe. Russell Wilson was already a pro athlete by the time he made it to Seattle, but has always had Tarvaris Jackson for good measure.

Pundits claim Manziel owns an intangible that cannot be described, an “it” factor if you will. But unless Cleveland surrounds him with a professional mentor or two of similar ilk, I’ll take “the thing” that makes championship-grade quarterbacks like the aforementioned tick.

Speaking of winners, championship floor general Rajon Rondo was recently traded to the Dallas Mavericks from Boston only for the NBA equivalent of a bologna sandwich.

Oops, Cleveland brass proved to be out to lunch on this one as well.

The NBA’s Cavaliers, should the roster remain in the status quo, won’t even make it past the second round of the playoffs. Not because they are a role player or two short, but their fan base will have their hearts broken yet again because the organization is committed to Kyrie Irving as their point guard of the future.

Cleveland has what Boston wanted: a closer. Boston had what Cleveland needs: a drink-stirrer. The price? A simple sign-and-trade.

Rondo, like Magic, Kidd and Stockton before him, owns the same sporting gene that every great point guard needs no coaching for: the ability to get the ball to teammates, no matter their skill level, when and where they are in best position to succeed.

Kyrie Irving is a special offensive talent. Cleveland fans have to wonder if he’s willing to make the necessary in-game adjustments, such as deferring more to his teammates earlier and often, as opposed to worrying about scoring 30 before anyone else does.


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