Bay Area vs Cleveland, JR vs Lebron, Indians vs The World


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Episode Transcript

Benjamin: Hello giants fans and welcome back to the San Francisco giants edition of the For The Fans By The Fans podcast, where we bring you your weekly dose of all things San Francisco Giants baseball from the Fan's perspective. I'm a lifelong Giants fan in your host, Benjamin Shapiro. As the giants pitching staff flounders in the team sits a few games below 500, we turn our attention to more competitive subjects today and welcome Adam marks, a long-suffering Cleveland Indians and Cavaliers Fan to talk both American League Baseball and the NBA finals. But before Adam reminds us about Kyrie Irving's last second heroics in 2016, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you on behalf of our friends at Fanatics. Fanatics is the global leader in licensed sports merchandise. They have the world's largest collection of official sports apparel from the leagues, teams and players that you love. So if you're looking for you're Jr Smith Jersey, you can head over to fanatics.com or you can do us a favor and go to FTFBTF.com/fanatics, and they'll kick us a couple of bucks to help pay for the production of this show. With that said, Adam, it's been awhile. Welcome to the show and to the NBA finals. How you doing bud? 

Adam: It is a pleasure to be here. I am ready, willing and able to answer your questions and perhaps get my heart rate down. Maybe a couple beats. It's been a rough day. On a scale of one to 10. I'm jumping off the bridge. 

Benjamin: How do you feel after Jr Smith caught an offensive rebound with four seconds left and decided to dribble it to the liquor store? 

Adam: You know, in the moment I wanted to pull my hair out and I was screaming in front of the TV as I do when these moments tend to happen because they happen a lot in Cleveland Sports. Witnessed to most of them, but a couple of seconds later I sort of sat down and I was like, oh, right Jr again, just being Jr. 

Benjamin: That's built into what you get for jr. That's manny being manny to use a boston sports reference. We both went to college in boston 

Adam: pretty much. I mean, honestly, all of the little things kept on piling up that charge call that missed free throw dreamlands lane violation, which was as blatant as anything I've ever seen and we can certainly get to that in the future. Then you'd have jr. Then you have lebron freaking out, not calling a time out. I mean everything was just like sort of snowballing. 

Benjamin: The funny thing is I was sitting there watching the free throw attempt, fingers crossed, god, I hope he misses. Maybe we'll get to go to overtime. And I was sitting there looking and Jr basically looked like he had his back turn towards the play, like he wasn't paying attention to the shooter and I was thinking he's not even going to get a good jump to try to get this rebound. And of course the ball bounces right to them. And Then I thought he was taking a dribble to get away from durant because duran has eight foot arms to like chuck it up and he just kept going and going and going. It was like somebody had the controller in nba jam going the wrong direction and the guy's just like running towards the sideline. That was very confused 

Adam: thing with jr is that he doesn't shoot layups and he doesn't get into the paint. He wants to dribble out to the three point line turnaround and just flick something ridiculous shot it because that's what he does. So I thought he was taking it out and he's like, okay, I'm going to do my jar thing. I'm gonna. Take it out. I'm going to go out real quick. I'm going to spin and I'm going to pop it up. And when you got out to the three point line, I thought he was going to spin around and be like, yeah, all right, let's flip it up. Two seconds left, let's do it. And you just kept on dribbling, dribbling, dribbling. And I was like, dude, there's no timeline. What are you doing? And I said that and I'm standing about two feet away in front of the tv, which is what happens when I get really nervous. I just get closer and closer to the tv Because I feel like I can jump into the tv and just strangle someone's neck or be a part of the game, so I'm like screaming in front of the tv. I'm like, yeah, what just happened, why they need shoot the ball. There must be an explanation. Yes. No, there's no explanation. That's jr smith. 

Benjamin: My favorite part is he clearly looks at lebron james and says, I thought we were ahead and then the postgame conference. He said I kneW what the score was, so not only did he get it wrong, but then he clearly got tape saying I didn't know what I was doing and then lied about it in the post game conference, which might be 

Adam: even more jr than actually dribbling the ball out and yeah, I mean this is a guy that threw suit, been an assistant coach and this is a guy that. There was one game, I think it was last year or whatever, against Boston. He didn't know he was in the game. He thought that he was either out of the game or the game was over. He lives like walking off the court. It's the same guy, but then because so many things that happened before that, the jar thing was just like one out of many and the thing with jr, it's not like you can just, dude, you're done. It's like, no, we need you. There's no one else. I mean they're going to put in men no. Right, and they keep going back to them and back to the bathroom because we don't have anybody else. When jr Is mentally engaged, which was a crap shoot, can be a very, very good defensive player. He can be a past. He can knock down threes. He hustles. He plays really hard, but when he's mentally out of it, things like last night happened 

Adam: and of course, why would he be engaged when there's a tie game and the nba finals and he's got the rebound with four seconds left, 

Benjamin: right? If what happens in the series that everybody thinks is gonna happen and golden state just rolls cleveland, which is what everyone predicted anyway, and I think it's probably still gonna happen. it just goes up in the on the list of cleveland sports information. 

Adam: That's a perfect segue because this is supposed to be a baseball podcast and we're trying something new this time and we're going to do a little cross sports collaboration. So give me the context and there's a couple things I want to talk about. A, I want to know what it's like to be a cleveland sports fan. I would say that the giants have a good case to be the team of the decade. The warriors are probably the team of the decade. There's no college sports 

Benjamin: as much as I'm a big cal football and basketball fan to speak of in the bay area and the 40 niners have been long suffering this decade ever since I left, but I want to know what it's like to be a cleveland fan. Are you guys still feeling good about the championship in 2016? Give me the life for cleveland fans these days because it was so impossible and it was so unexpected and it was so completely out of nowhere. You say it was completely out of nowhere, but you have basically a religious figure playing every position on the court. Lebron james is one of the two best basketball players ever. He's from cleveland. You had kyrie irving and Kevin Love. What do you mean it was out of nowhere? Listen, it was three. One in this area and golden state was on its way to being one of the best teams of all time. 

Benjamin: Yeah, and the nba stepped in and suspended dream on green. Right. Okay. So another potential segue there. By the way, it's streamline greens fault and no one else has followed that. He had whatever, eight technicals leading up to that moment, so I don't want to hear it anyway. When you're a cleveland fan, you just expect the worst. You just do because up until that point, what was there that you can hang onto that and be like, okay, yeah, we're going to do this. This is going to work. There was nothing as great as the bron was up until that point. It still had an app in 2007. They got swept. They got killed by san antonio. The team that everyone loved, it was the 2019, they were one of the best teams of basketball, but completely overmatched agaInst orlando in the eastern conference finals 2010. 

Benjamin: The celtics were sort of in the middle of their little run, the brawn and everybody else and it didn't happen and then lebron leaves and you're like, well, that was awesome that he's never coming back. Let me jump in and play devil's advocate here. I'm just going to talk about the calves for a second. Okay. They get the number one draft pick the year that a player from akron, Ohio who has the potential to be a generational talent is in the nba draft. They make the nba finals, they're competitive for years. He leaves and they get the number one draft pick two years in a row, and then this generational talent who's from akron decides to get emotional, honestly, probably picks the most talented team he could get and come back to cleveland. So now you have three first round draft picks and like an eight year span. 

Benjamin: You've gone to the finals. Once you have a generational player that's played on your team for six out of 10 years, left and came back and you ended up with an nba championship, so where is all of this? Nothing ever goes right stuff for us. Like how did dell Those players get onto the team if nothing goes right? Well, I'm giving you the mentality of the cleveland fan up until that point obviously, but you can't simply just shake it. Years of nothingness, 50 years of heartache, 50 years of agony with the potential that, okay, this could be great because it hadn't happened. Nobody had experienced it. It's like, how can you no what something feels like or expect something if you don't know what it is, you know that feeling, that sensation, that belief was never there because it hadn't happened. All we knew was pain and agony and failure 

Adam: and I'll jump back in for two reasons. I understand what you're talking about. FirsT off, I'm a cal football fan. We haven't made a rosebowl in I think 53 years and if they ever do make it to the rosebowl, I don't care if they win the pack 12, I don't care if they're second, I don't care how they get in. I will go to that game and I will cry like a little baby because I just don't think it's possible. Second off, the giants went 50 slash 60 years before they won a world series and we had gone to game seven, got swept in 1989. There were a competitive team and we're aLways on the doorstep and always relatively competitive and just never got over the hump. And in 2010 when they won for the first time a, they were a huge underdog and be the elation and disbelief that that could happen was palpable. I mean it was just one of the more emotional, joyous things that's ever happened in my lifetime as a sports fan. So I hear what you're saying and I guess it's a little different for giants fans in the sense that after the team won they won more championships as opposed to got to the doorstep and didn't come back and that's why cleveland, the cavaliers are interesting because it feels to me that the cavaliers fan or like, oh, it's never gonna happen, but it just did. 

Benjamin: Yeah. When it actually happened, it was so stunning and so shocking and so incredible that it just engulfs the region for really for the rest of the year. Honestly, I through the world series that year because that joy just kept on coming through and then the indians had that magical season in 2016. Just kept on comment and comment and comment is like we thought that this is the big turnaround. Like this is cleveland's becoming like the epicenter of sports. Next things up as the browns. Yeah. That's another whole podcast. There's hope. 

Adam: No there's not. 

Benjamin: But again, like you're a san francisco guy at the bare minimum you had the 40 niners. I mean that's a straight up dynasty. Had somethIng to fall back on. 

Adam: By the time the giants won the world series, so the last 49 or superbowl victory I think was 1994. That was the steve young superbowl against the chargers. So you're going 94, two. Oh four. So 16 years between that and the giants winning the world series in 2010. So we weren't long suffering by any means as a region. I mean, I understand it builds. 

Benjamin: Yeah. Look, 52 years and cleveland is the smallest city to have three major sports teams. That's kind of another topic too, like you know, are they able to support three sports teams? I mean it'd be devastating and we didn't have any of them, but again, 52 years without a championship, who's the third team 

Benjamin: come on rounds with the team or the fifties man. The truth is the browns are an expansion team that never got going right. like the browns became the ravens who then won the super bowl and then the expansion team has poor ownership but never got organized and hopefully they're on the right track now. But it's been a disaster. It's been an absolute total and utter complete disaster. There's really no other way around it. The browns are partially are one of the reasons why you have that cleveland sports sort of malaise. It is the biggest reason why, because the browns are the team in cleveland. Yeah, I mean the term taking the cleveland browns to the super bowl as a poop joke. All you need To know about how people think about cleveland sports, you know, as being upon. Listen, cleveland is first and foremost a brown's town. 

Benjamin: Second, it is a high school football town. Third, it is an Ohio state town and they very, very, very, very close for it. Then they're all jumbled up. It's not an indian's town or a town, but first and foremost it's football that brands have been around since 19, 46 and football was born in northeast Ohio. I mean that's where it started, so football is everything and because the browns had been so bad, that just seeps in to like becomes part of your. And despIte the championship in 2016, as incredible as it was, it doesn't necessarily negate all of the other moments. It helps, believe me, but you still have the drive, the shot and the bumble, the nineties, 95, 97. You get the collapsing against the red sox. The second collapse against the red side. I mean there's. I could go on and on. So talk to me a little bit about the indians. 

Benjamin: I sort of get the sense of the long suffering fans, even though the team one, it still feels like it doesn't erase all of the troubles of being a sort of downtrodden sports town. For the record. I'd talk a lot of shit to my friends. Oh, I swore already. Sorry. Kate. Uh, well my buddy adam's wife gave me a hard time for swearing too much on the podcast. I get it. Well, other than being a long suffering sports town and I talk a lot of trash to my buddies who are cleveland franz. Shout out to my friend ian kay. Yeah. I have nothing against cleveland than people there. I've met her. Nice. I've been to cleveland for a wedding. It's fine. But tell me a little bit about the indians talks on baseball. To me, what's the vibe on the indians this year? This year the indians are right in the middle towards the end of that potential championship window. 

Benjamin: They are absolutely a championship contender. They haven't started the season super well the first month of the season. They couldn't hit their pitching lights out. The second month of the season, they're hidden like crazy and their bullpen just collapsed. Andrew miller got injured. He came back, he wasn't ready. He went on the dl again. They've had a ton of injuries. Their bull pen, it's just been an absolute disaster, but they're currently in first place. They've won six in a row. Their division is really weak. There's no reason that they shouldn't win the division to make the playoffs. The playoffs or a crap shoot. You know, last year we were up to you. Oh, against the yankees. And corey kluber was not corey kluber and that was the end of it. He got corey clubbed. Yeah. You know, they absolutely have the talent to compete with the best teams and all. Are they as good as the yankees and the astros and the red sox? 

Benjamin: Probably not, but can they compete with them because of their pitchinG? Absolutely. So I have high expectations for the indians. I think they should absolutely be in the playoffs and make a run, but they have to fIgure out the bullpen. You know, there's a strong parallel other than the bullpen, a little questionable and that's something that you could solve with the trade deadline if you think you're going to be competitive, but there's a strong parallel between the early giants teams and the indians teams where they have probably more power than giants' team have, but a deep lineup, very strong starting pitching and they're the team that's probably gonna make the playoffs and people think that they're just going to be competitive, but I don't want to see corey kluber in the playoffs. There's a bunch of people on the cleveland staff that just easily could go in and win any given gaMe and in the playoffs it's about who gets hot. 

Benjamin: I think that they are absolutely set up to make a run at the world series, but I don't remember the last time a torn up bullpen won a world series. I don't know how that happens. How can you have a bullpen that doesn't get people out in season, so they're going to have to figure that out. That was the giants problem in 2010 and they made the trade for javier lopez. Another guy from boston ramirez. I think they even pulled in one more person for the bullpen. I cAn't remember off the top of my head, but those were the bIg acquisitions at the second half of the season. It wasn't a power bat. It was the two guys that ended up being the seventh and eighth inning pitchers. We got the bats. I mean I was a ramirez. Francisco lindor and michael brantley are three of the best in the game and they are one, two, three in the lineup. 

Benjamin: They are incredible. And and ramirez or just an unbelievable. Michael bradley who is basically been injured for the past few years has just been lights out and he's been spectacular. So offensively they're just loaded and they're top for pitching. Staff can compete with anybody and I think there's an underrated part of the cleveland team is their manager right francona. Has been there, he's a great playoff manager with the red sox and so when you look at the managers for the teams that they're competing against, you've got Aaron Boone, who knows what the hell that guy is doing and horrors of the red sox. Houston. Yeah, that guy. So clearly. I mean they won last year, so obviously they kind of have an idea what they're doing. So yeah, uber is as good as anybody. Carrasco is basically as good as anybody when he's on, when he's on, which this year he's pretty much been on. 

Benjamin: My clevenger is coming into his own. He's been fantastic and trevor bauer's had a fantastic year so far. He's a total head case, but that's another long story, but he's been fantastic this year. Ucla grad. But yeah, their top line started to compete with anybody. I mean baseball is such a long season. Last year they were mostly scuffling and so they went on that 22 game winning streak and that was what propelled them into the playoffs and unfortunately it didn't hold, stood for the giants. Fans that are listening. Tell us what else we need to know about the american league. How do you feel about your competition? Well, the american league central is terrible, so you need to know absolutely nothing about our division. Every team is that the indians are below 500. The yankees and the red sox are just beating each other up. Gluttony is the word I think of when it comes to the yankees. 

Benjamin: The yankees are loaded and the astros are the defending champs and until somebody knocks them off, they're as good as anybody. Those are the big four. As far as any up and coming teams, I don't see anyone outside of those for making the world series. I mean that's pretty much what you need to know that that's where the big time talented gets loaded at the top. I think that seattle is a couple games over 500 right now. I'm not sure if I believe in them. I think actually oakland might be a couple games over 500, two or close to it and that's definitely a young and hopefully up and coming team from my buddy John Wilson, but I don't see any of the other nls teams coming out. Maybe the anaheim angels could be competitive. Yeah, maybe. I mean you've got the whole otani story. It's a great story. 

Benjamin: That trout is unbelievable. I mean it's a shame to see him sort of wasting away in anaheim not being able to get on the biggest stage. I would hope at some point that he's going to get that opportunity because he's unbelievable. And how could you not root for a guy whose name is poo holes? Yeah, paroles. I mean that contract, whether they owe him another $60, million dollars or something like 2 billion. It's crazy. Yeah. But anyway. Yeah, I mean it's top heavy. I mean again, the yankees, houston socks, indians, one, two, three, four, there clothes that, you know, how it is in boston, red sox, crazy. And they have reason to be. The red sox are really good. There's no doubt about it. But you know the old cliche, the playoffs or a total crap shoot. So just get it. So it sounds like there is hope for cleveland fans, whether it's the odd chance that the cavs win four games out of the next six in the nba finals, but it looks like the indians have a puncher's chance at a world series. 

Benjamin: So before I let you go, give me two minutes on whether lebron is the best player of all time. Here's what I think about lebron. I don't think that any player has had to bear the burden that he has had to bear over these years. I'm not talking about just the team. I'm talking about the organization. I'm talking about the city. I'm talking about the region of northeast Ohio. Lebron james has had the entire region of northeast Ohio on his back for 15 years. Even when he was in miami. And I don't think there's ever been an athlete as scrutinized, analyze, broken down, criticize as lebron james. Is he the greatest of all time? If he can get a couple of notches on his belt, another championship or two, I think it's a hands down argument. I think he gets one more somewhere. I don't know where that is. 

Benjamin: I was listening to the bill simmons podcast and the jj redick podcast, both part of the ringer podcast network, which is something that we had for the fans. The fans appreciate very much. It's a little bit of how we modeled our show and their argument was that it's harder to play basketball now than it's ever been. So if Jordan played against lebron, a lebron hasn't by 80 pounds, he would take them down to the block and dunk on him and that with very minimal supporting staff, with the exception of his years in miami. Lebron has made the finals. What is it, eight straight years and the next year with the lakers. He's not making it with the lakers and I just don't see the lakers. It doesn't make any sense unless there has to be somebody else in houston and philly make the most sense. So before we go there, how does this finals play out? 

Benjamin: Man, I have a hard time believing that lebron is going to be swept. I think he's going to play until the last second. I think realistically we're losing five. If lebron pulls this off, he's the greatest player ever because he's going to have to average 55 points and It's absurd. The worst thing about today was the fact that everybody was talking about jr and the refereeing and nobody was talking about lebron james scoring 51 points, which is unbelievable what he's done. This postseason is unprecedented. Jordan never did it. You never had to do, but I think game two is a muscle and if we want any shot to win the whole thing, I don't think we're going to get swept. That man last night was just brutal. It's somewhere between four to six games in my opinion, so lebron loses and honestly I signed lebron loses and not the calves because they're the cleveland. 

Benjamin: The bronze. As far as are concerned, pretty much I think me, you kirk and I don't know. Somebody else from the frat house could probably play about as much defense as the other four scrubs that were on the court with the broad yesterday. Yes. Although ironically, defensively I thought they were really good yesterday on golden state. Ms dot a lot of shots, but they made a lot of plays that they haven't been making. They made a lot of mistakes, but you're holding in regulation, your whole golden state to 100 points. Something like that. Yeah. I mean that's not bad. I'll take those odds, but you're just waiting for the golden state. Onslaughts you know what's going to happen and it happened in overtime last night. Got the onsite. It's like bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. It's over. I mean, that didn't really happen yesterday. The cabs were able to hang around, hang around, hang around. 

Benjamin: It's a tall task man. Golden state is just loaded with the assumption that the warriors win the finals. yeah. Where do you think lebron ends up next year? I think the two most logical destinations are fairly in houston. First of all, lebron doesn't. Oh, cleveland. Anything. He kept his promise. He can get it any cleveland and that is upset or disappointed. Disappointed is fine, but upset or mad or angry at pbs has no business feeling that way. Honestly. That's the way I'd feel. The brAwn deserves to go somewhere where he doesn't have to carry your franchise, where he can step in and be a major part, but not be part of a team that has a chance to compete for a championship immediately he deserves, so philadelphia and houston makes the most sense from a basketball standpoint. Could there be a wild card? I could see the going in there. There's no way. Philadelphia mortgages their future with what they have. They're going to stunt the growth of their superstars and they have 

Adam: potentially the next lebron james and ben simmons on their team, so I don't think philadelphia is a reasonable place for him to go. I think it's bad for the young players growth. I think they have a chance of winning the championship. Without him. I think houston could potentially be a fit. It's a little bit of a stretch for me. 

Benjamin: Stanley wants to compete against boston. They're going to need someone to be Able to compete against boston with kyrie irving and gordon hayward next year. That's way too much to ask with lebron james. PotentIally. they can do it and according to chris broussard, my favorite nba analysts who was also from northeast Ohio, he said that lebron is willing to play off the ball, meaning that ben simmons can still be the distributor playmaker his growth as it gets done it. But braun can play in a different position, 

Adam: but what do I know? I think he's going to los angeles. I think they have pieces to get rid of that. They'll have the cap space for him and Paul George and he's gonna go. He's got houses in brentwood. He's going to go live in la. He's gonna play with lonzo ball, bringing the ball up. Facilitating. They'll still have a ingram. It'd be james. They'll get rid of randall [inaudible] still probably there. Like that's going to be a deep team. 

Benjamin: It's gonna be a deep team. He doesn't go there without Paul George. He asked to go there with somebody else. He's not going there on his own, but even in that scenario, I think the warriors are still a better team. I think it goes to houston. They absolutely, positively neck and neck. Again, if chris paul doesn't get hurt, who knows? 

Adam: I have a hard time seeing harden and lebron james playing well together. 

Benjamin: Great players. Lebron just figures it out. That's what he's done his whole career. He figures it out. 

Adam: Alright, before I let you go, I'm going to send you out on one note. The nba stands by their block call. [inaudible] report confirms refs maDe the correct call when changing bronze call into a blocking foul. So on that note, nba made the right decision. 

Benjamin: It does absolutely nothing for me. It never should have come down to that never should've gone. To replay the referees need to make their call on the floor and the fact that they went to the monitors anyway, ridiculous. He was like two feet out of the circle. They weren't going to the monitor to look at the block, a black jobs. They were looking at something else and they were like, oh, maybe it was a block. Maybe we should change it. Okay buddy. Let's do that. Let's alter the outcome of the game and perhaps the entire series, perhaps lebron james, his legacy by making this call. That's what they did. 

Adam: That's a first for the ftf btf podcast. We talked a little basketball and we saw somebody whose face turned purple, arguing a block charge call, and that wraps up today's show and our plan is to do this every week and sometimes we're going to talk baseball. We might talk a little basketball. We're going to mix in some other sports moving forward, but this is primarily going to be a giant podcast, so if you want more giants baseball on your podcast feed, click that subscribe button. Since we're just getting started, we'd love for you to give us a rating in the apple itunes store or you can send us your questions for the fans by the fans.com. You can find us on twitter, instagram, and facebook. Just search ftf btf. Thanks again to our friends at fanatics. If you're going to go buy your giants gear, if you're going to go buy your warriors gear, where if you're going to go buy your lebron james and the lebron ets gear, cota ftf btf.com/fanatics, and our friends at fanatics will kick us a couple of bucks to help produce the show. That's it for this time. Go dubs and go giants, and until next time, swing and a miss, and that's it.