While there may not be much in terms of banners and parades, the Cleveland sports scene is always rife with speculation and storylines both on and off of the field. Who's making the headlines this week?
1. Manny Acta, Former Manager, Cleveland Indians (last week: 5)
Despite the Indians' greatest attempt at burying the lede, the ousting of Manny Acta as manager of an otherwise bereft franchise remains front and center on the local radar. Not helping the Tribe's case was the fact that the Cleveland Browns looked respectable against their division foe Baltimore Ravens; the Tribe closed the season out with losses of 11-0 and 9-0, respectively.
Acta -- as discussed last week -- merely served as the fall guy for a complete mismanagement from the top of the organization on down. Cloaked in a façade of accountability, Acta went from being the face of the franchise with his 2013 option picked up just one season ago, to being retroactively molded into a metaphor of failure. Still young at the ripe age of 43, the former Indians skipper will undoubtedly latch on elsewhere. He was a class act from beginning 'til end and had a lot of fans in the city of Cleveland.
Not included in this base of "fans" would be...
2. Chris Perez, Unfiltered Closer, Cleveland Indians (last week: unranked)
Not long after he laced into the decision-making in the front office -- "Josh Willingham would look great in this lineup. They didn't want to [pony] up for that last year. That's the decision they make, and this is the bed we're laying in." -- the season-long sound bite known as Chris Perez lobbed a few verbal grenades at his recently-fired skipper. Complaints of defense, motivation, and transparency -- all allegedly lacking -- were only the beginning. The two-time All-Star claimed that Acta not only should have been shown the door, but that it should have happened in August when the team sustained a month-long free fall from the top of the AL Central.
Even better, he recently hinted towards possessing additional opinions on the entire season, but he would wait until he was "allowed to talk." This should be fun. Someone ask Perez what he thinks about...
3. Sandy Alomar Jr., Bench Coach, Cleveland Indians (last week: unranked)
Listed by many as the current front-runner for the managerial job in Cleveland, Alomar's tenure as interim boss started out well but could not have finished much worse.
"In order to get better, you have to fail," said Alomar prior to the season finale. "In order for you to grow as a player, you have to fail. You have to have some bad times. I hope they learn from that, from all their struggles."
A hard worker who has zero sense of entitlement and a boat load of nostalgia attached to his name, Alomar could realistically be laying claim to the manager's locker room for the entire 2013 season and beyond. The only man who appears to be a roadblock in any sense is...
4. Terry Francona, Potential Heir, Cleveland Indians (last week: unranked)
Initially deemed a pipedream to don Wahoo on his head come next season, there appears to be some legit preliminary interest by both parties. Francona, like Alomar, played for the Indians; Terry even has his father's name on his side. Most importantly, however, are the multiple championship rings that are prominently displayed in his trophy case. Consensus appears to be leaning toward the job being Francona's if he wants it.
The operative word being "if."
5. Pat Shurmur, Head Coach, Cleveland Browns (last week: 1)
He may not have watched the Cleveland '95 documentary, but odds are he used the time to write Thank You cards to the offices on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. The Thursday night game coupled with the utter nightmare known as the Indians allow Shurmur to rest comfortably in the fifth slot on these here rankings. There are still talks of the Browns head coach being ousted during the team's bye week; ten straight losses will do this in today's scrutiny-heavy NFL. Unfortunately for Shurmur, before that bye week comes, the 0-4 Browns have to travel to the Meadowlands to take on the Super Bowl champions. One guy who could help matters a bit would be...
6. Greg Little, Wide Receiver, Cleveland Browns (last week: 3)
Little recently took to the airwaves, handled all questions well and continues to sound like a stand-up kid. His six dropped passes - four against the Baltimore Ravens this past Thursday - continue to be a scarlet letter that will stay firmly attached to his chest until he consistently shows the ability to execute the key function of his job.
Speaking of key functions, Irving, the reigning Rookie of the Year would have had a hell of a time dribbling, distributing and shooting a basketball with a gaudy cast on his right hand. Fortunately for him and the Cavaliers, the only thing found on his right hand today is a four-inch scar which serves as a reminder of the offseason surgery, the result of a fluke accident. Irving appears to be considerably more comfortable in his role this year as compared to the start of his rookie campaign. He's also turned to chest-bumping wall pads instead of slapping them.
8. Bill Belichick, Former Head Coach, Cleveland Browns (last week: unranked)
The subject of NFL Network's "A Football Life: Cleveland '95," Belichick's time in Cleveland serves as a stark reminder of what could have been in this town if not for the money-grubbing and greed of one Arthur Modell. It's still fascinating that the referees, in the final Browns home game in 1995, opted to only play on one half of the field rather than attempting to calm down the otherwise rabid Cleveland fans.
9. Stipe Miočić, All-Around Badass, UFC (last week: unranked)
Entering his one-year anniversary as a fighter within Dana White's cash cow, Miočić sustained his first loss -- despite garnering "fight of the night" honors -- this past weekend. It was a fight that appeared primed to be his 10th consecutive victory, but once the referee stopped the bout, all focus of Miočić and his family turned to the still-to-be-named fighter on whom the 240-pounder will be taking out his pent up aggression.
10. Joe Haden, Cornerback, Cleveland Browns (last week: unranked)
The four-game suspension will come to an end once the Browns complete their contest against the Giants. Thus far, the team has dropped three games which left an entire fan base wondering what the respective outcomes would have been had their most talented defender actually been on the field. Week 6 cannot arrive soon enough.
Scott Sargent is a co-founder of WaitingForNextYear, where he writes about all three professional Cleveland teams. He's been voted "Ohio's Best Sports Blogger" for his work at WFNY. Scott will be covering all things Cleveland, providing feature writing and weekly snapshots of what mattered and where we're headed in the world of Cleveland sports.