Why do the Cleveland Browns always move the needle? While We're Waiting...

The Cleveland Browns are perennially popular despite the fact that they're perennially poor at playing football. We all know it to be true, but does anyone really know why? Also, Rage Against the Machine!

Good Friday morning everyone. I'm saying that regardless of what happened in the Cleveland Cavaliers game last night. If they won, this serves as a pleasant distraction. If they lost, calm down, it's seven games and use this as a necessary distraction. Before I get into my stuff, I really just want to say thanks to all who've jumped aboard here with us at Scout. We'll have some new things and we'll try some stuff that probably won't even work, but thanks for trusting us to get to a new place where we can take a load off from the rigors of the technical and business side of things. We obviously think it will be worthwhile, and hopefully in time you will think so too. Now, on with my nonsense!

The Browns move the needle and I don't know why

Like many Cleveland sports fans, I've come to accept that the Cleveland Browns will forever be the most popular team in town. I was once again smacked in the face by this fact with our own stats and a portion of Terry Pluto's podcast this week with Dan Labbe. Pluto remarked, with no particular point other than to educate, that his mid-week Cleveland Browns scribbles were more heavily-read than stories about the Finals-bound Cleveland Cavaliers or the currently contending Cleveland Indians. It's notable, and it's factual, but I honestly can't explain it.

The NFL's popularity obviously has something to do with it. The NFL is a juggernaut of well-placed calendar landmarks for every single season. You've got training camp, the season, the playoffs, free agency, the combine, the draft, rookie signings, OTAs and right back into training camp. In many respects the Browns punt on half the season and the entire playoffs every single year. And yet, even in a town that's had undeniably miserable football, the Browns continue to move the needle for this site, and one of the most respected sportswriters in town, Terry Pluto?

http://www.scout.com/cleveland-sports/story/1675347-jim-brown-josh-gordo... Some of it doesn't need to be explained. People like what they like. Cleveland and the state of Ohio love football. The Browns happen to be one of the professional teams in the state and that's that. Even that can't explain why a common sense, non-comment by new head coach Hue Jackson about not naming RG3 the starter is flying off proverbial internet shelves. The Browns aren't even mired in bad news the way they were at times over the past few years with Josh Gordon, Johnny Manziel, or Jimmy Haslam's truck stop empire. Bad news always sells because there's controversy and drama. The Browns are largely even lacking in that right now, and by any measure they're still more popular from a traffic standpoint than anything you can say about the Cavaliers, including one of the best players in the history of the sport of basketball, LeBron James.

I don't have a conclusion other than to remark at how astonishing it really is. Is it any wonder that Jimmy Haslam found it to be a good business move to pay a billion dollars for this team? It's easy to wonder what the Browns would be worth if they were good again, except that I wonder if it can really get that much better. Maybe a perennial winner would have some marginally increased merch sales from a new national fan base, but I don't think it would change the financial fortunes all that much. The national TV deal is already split up equitably among the teams. The Browns could make more on playoff ticket revenue I guess, but other than that, given the fan base, a losing franchise probably makes almost as much as a winning one. That fact alone has led many to conclude that Browns fans are enablers, and I guess I'd listen to the case, but I don't think it's as simple as that.

Like Terry Pluto and Dan Labbe, I'm just noting it and accepting it. Maybe someday I'll be able to figure it out, but today's not that day. For now, I'll just continue to write about the team as much as I want and watch the page views come rolling in inexplicably more than the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Rage Against the Machine - Live at Finsbury Park screening at the Rock Hall

On Wednesday night I saw a screening of Rage Against the Machine's "Live at Finsbury Park" at the Rock Hall. It's a concert movie, but it's also the story of the music industry in the United Kingdom. Over here we know Simon Cowell, but over there they really know him. He started X-Factor before American Idol became a show here in the United States, and part of that was complete and utter chart domination. In 2009, thanks to an online campaign and some charitable intentions, Rage Against the Machine's 1992 song "Killing in the Name" was the Christmas number one. Before we get to any of that, or the concert that Rage put on, let's talk about the Christmas number one.

In the United Kingdom the top of the UK Singles Chart on Christmas week is a big deal. It's historically been a hallmark of charitable songs in a time of year where record sales have traditionally peaked. It's a weird list when you look at the whole thing. There are three separate versions of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by different versions of Band Aid. 1984, 1989, and 2004 all have "Do They Know" songs as winners. From 1996 to 1998 the Spice Girls won three straight years with "2 Become 1," "Too Much," and "Goodbye." Bob the Builder - yes, that kids TV show - had the Christmas number one in 2000 with "Can We Fix It?" So, it's a weird list to be sure, but it was stale by the time the 2009 Christmas season rolled around.

After Band Aid 20 took home the number one in 2004 with "Do They Know It's Christmas?" the third, Simon Cowell's X-Factor started dominating. In 2005 Shayne Ward won X-Factor and won the Christmas number one with "That's My Goal." Leona Lewis and Leon Jackson followed in 2007 and 2008. They were followed by Alexandra Burke in 2008 with "Hallelujah." In 2009 Joe McElderry won the show and released a cover of Miley Cyrus' "The Climb." Apparently that was the straw that broke the camel's back. Jon Morter, a 35-year-old part-time DJ took to Facebook, started a campaign. It went viral, gained enough steam and Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name" became the Christmas number one of 2009.

The film tells that story and also shows a celebratory free concert that Rage did in celebration in the Summer of 2010 just a few months after the unlikely victory. I saw it in the Foster Theater in the Rock Hall amidst a crowd of varying ages. The fans in my immediate vicinity gave off a musk of aftershave and cigarette smoke, and the rock commenced. Watching the opening notes of "Testify" ring through a crowd estimated to be 40,000 was unbelievable, except I've seen scenes like it before. I was lucky to see Rage Against the Machine play the James A. Rhodes Arena back in the proverbial day, and it's a sight to behold. To see a mass of humanity that size explode into jumping gesticulations and mostly-safe violence is powerful on a level that you can only believe if you see it or experience it. 

Here's Testify.


For 80 minutes and 12 songs, I sat in that theater just overtaken by the emotion captured in that concert. It was a little bit weird to take in a concert experience in a movie theater. Should you bang your head or tap your foot? If so, how much? What are the rules for taking in "live" music with other fans in a public setting? Ultimately, just like any other scenario involving music, you let it wash over you and go with your instincts. You don't have to find a theater as the performance is available on Blu-Ray.

As a quick aside about the Rock Hall, if you ever have a chance to go check out some of the Rock Hall's programming in that theater, it has some of the best values around. Members get really good deals and non-members get pretty good deals too. If the Cavs hadn't been playing Thursday night I would have dropped the $10 to go see an interview event about musical influences with Deep Purple's Glenn Hughes and Alice In Chains' Jerry Cantrell. Like Jerry Cantrell was actually sitting in the room, not on the movie screen. 

Your Weekly Moment of Soccer Zen

So the handles on this guy are just something else... .


That's it for me today. Thanks to everyone for a fine first week at the new site.

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