Scott Sargent provides quick-hit thoughts on the state of Cleveland's teams.
First Quarter: Tip of the Iceberg
When Tom Heckert arrived in Cleveland, one of his first additions to the roster of the Cleveland Browns arrived in the way of cornerback Dimitri Patterson. Following the team's recent fall-from-grace loss to the Washington Redskins, Patterson was shown the door -- he had signed a three-year contract this past March.
While the individual circumstances surrounding Patterson may not be indicative of his (former) general manager, Patterson's pink slip may very well be a sign of things to come for the rest of the regime that thought it would be a good idea to have the nickelback get abused for an entire contest in the wake of Joe Haden's suspension.
There is no telling what the future may hold for Heckert, but if there was a totem poll of the to-be-canned, one can safely bet that the face on the top has greying sideburns and a befuddled look -- the sort of look one gets when their shotgun-friendly quarterback is forced to play from under center and gets yet another pass batted down in a crucial situation. At this point, it is Pat Shurmur, like Patterson, who is attempting to build film for his next job. He won't likely get another head coaching gig for quite a while, but some will argue that he should not have had this one. House money.
Second Quarter: The Three Maskateers
When Kyrie Irving took a hit from the frontcourt of the Milwaukee Bucks and cushioned his landing with the left side of his face, there was an understandable gasp resonating from the lungs of Cavalier fans -- and investors -- across the country. When he arrived in Madison Square Garden looking like the Dark Knight thanks to his newly fitted black plastic mask, dropping a career-high 41 points in the interim, those gasps turned into laughs.
Irving joins teammates Tyler Zeller (orbital) and Tristan Thompson (nasal fracture) as members of the Wine and Gold who have to earn their burn while wearing windshields on their respective mugs. Zeller and Thompson each took time to get used to their masks; Irving, if judging by the box score, was a bit more comfortable.
While it is worth wondering if the NBA rules committee may have an issue on its hands when three members of the same team are fitted with masks and nary a flagrant foul was called, the Three Maskateers -- who just happen to be three core members of this team -- will be counted on to get this team over the hump that has given them their current 5-win record. Dion Waiters being back will help. Let's just hope he doesn't need a mask of his own.
Third Quarter: Bauer Power
To get a top shelf pitching prospect, it was assumed that Chris Antonetti would have to part with All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. One week later, both Cabrera and Trevor Bauer -- the third overall selection in the 2011 MLB Draft -- are both (proud?) members of the Cleveland Indians. Yes, Shin-Soo Choo, a player who was arguably the most consistent hitter on the Tribe roster over the course of the last four seasons, is now calling Cincinnati home. Odds were, however, that he would be calling a city other than Cleveland home in just a few short months, so to acquire an arm like Bauer's for a rental in Choo is a coup in every sense of the word.
Bauer will likely slot in at the second or third spot in the Indians' rotation, but it would surprise absolutely no one if it were the 21-year-old, eccentric righty who was squaring off against the Justin Verlanders and CC Sabathias of the world come July or August of this season.
Cynics will point at all the flaws, wondering if a highly-touted kid with Bauer's mental make-up can mesh within a locker room that saw its fair share of struggles just a season ago. Those cynics will be made into fools once the bat-missing Bauer is in Cy Young talks within the next three seasons. He's that good.
Fourth Quarter: "Lombardi" better be Italian for "Just kidding!"
As the Browns change gears and start looking at what they have going into this offseason, the smoke surrounding the player personnel department in Berea will continue to billow out past George Finnie Stadium. Multiple reports state that former Belichick gopher Michael Lombardi will get yet another crack in Cleveland as current CEO Joe Banner wants to have the personnel yin to his business man yang. Who better than the Cosby-sweater wearing Lombardi?
The answer: Anyone. To usher Tom Heckert out of Cleveland after three consecutive drafts that have netted the Browns starters at nearly every position on the playing field, and bring in a guy who has attempted to get a crack at a job for the last decade with nothing to show for his efforts would be death knell to all of the goodwill that had been amassed since Jimmy Haslam was approved as majority owner this past October.
It's understandable that a CEO -- just like a team president -- would want his guys working with (under) him. But there is something to be said for the direction that this Cleveland Browns team is heading; it remains to be seen what they can do if provided a motivating and educating head coach. A complete blow-up will only leave Cleveland with a slew of skepticism and boat load of what-ifs.
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 covers all things Cleveland, providing feature writing and weekly snapshots of what mattered and where we're headed in the world of Cleveland sports.