Sirk: Cow Patties from Columbus

Wherein our hero attempts to navigate around exacting editorial standards to express his many and varied thoughts about our beloved Cleveland Browns.


I was disappointed to read in the News-o-Rama that you refused to link to "what I'd give local sports personalities for Christmas" articles because they are trite, hackneyed piles of recycled monkey dung. Actually, I think you called them "lame-ass", but I decided to spruce it up a bit.

Anyway, I read your little mini-rant and thought, "So much for my Sooper Dooper Deluxe ‘Here's What I Hope Local Sports Personalities Got For Christmas, Plus Here Are Some New Year's Resolution Suggestions For Them As Well' column."  (That's right! I was going to do twice the work for just one column!)

After laboring over the concept for several minutes, I had already produced approximately 3,000 words. That's some real journalism there! Like, for Derek Anderson, I was going to say I hoped that he got some size-17 bulletproof shoes for Christmas.

Haha! Get it? Because he shot himself in the foot in Cincinnati? I mean, that would have been the perfect gift! Am I right or am I right?

See what gems you are missing out on? And that's just the stuff I came up with off the top of my head! Other stuff I put some actual thought into, striving to keep my gifts as up to date and appropriate as possible. For example, after I learned that the Browns can't change uniforms for another three years, I changed Kellen Winslow's gift to "a nice sweater or something" instead of "a new motorcycle."

Oh, and that's to say nothing of all those great New Year's resolutions that I came up with! Like, for play-calling whiz Rob Chudzinski, I was going to suggest that he resolve to get a new nickname that doesn't evoke memories of bad 80s movies about Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers.   

But no. Your harsh and condescending words in the News-o-Rama deprived me of a time-tested journalistic staple. At first I thought you were being a slave-driving Scrooge, cracking the whip for quality Christmastime content. After all, nobody mails it in under the watchful, bloodshot eyes of Bossman Barry McBride. "Bah Humbug! I'd puke upon publishing pre-processed pabulum! But enough excessive alliteration….and assonance as well. Now fetch me another whiskey nog so I can write my webdork blog!"

But then you actually wrote your webdork blog, and the truth became known. Just two days after bemoaning "lame-ass" Christmas gift columns and "lame-ass predictions for 2008" columns, you published your very own predictions for 20081. Except they were predictions for what would NOT happen.


Had I known that non-prediction predictions were fair game, I could have banged out 5,000 words in half the time it took the officials to figure out that they couldn't review Romeo's wacky fair catch replay challenge…

* Sometime much closer to Labor Day than to Halloween, the Cleveland Browns will win or lose a game, meaning they will NOT run the table and achieve the NFL's first Perfectly Mediocre Season of 0-0-16.

* Braylon Edwards will NOT be among the 2008 team leaders in special teams tackles.

* In an effort to bolster their play at the linebacker position, the Browns will NOT pursue free agent Dick Butkus. While he would probably help, he does not fit Phil Savage's profile of seeking players who have steadfastly refused to star as a basketball coach in the lame NBC ‘Saved by the Bell' knockoff, "Hang Time."

* Dave Zastudil will NOT rank among the top ten NFL punters when listed alphabetically by last name.

On and on I could have gone. Piece. O. Cake.

But you had to publish that little blog diatribe to throw us all off the scent, so you could keep the "2008 (non) prediction" column to yourself, didn't you?

In fact, your December 23rd News-o-Rama blog post was eerily reminiscent of Herman Melville's 1850 op-ed piece, "Allegorical Whaling Novels Are The Interminable Works Of Long-Winded Hacks Whose Singular, All-Consuming Focus On Completing An Epic Whaling Novel Is Symbolic Of Their Miserable Obsession With The Great White Minnow In The Front Of Their Trousers, And Wishing That It Were A Whale, So To Speak."

Anyway, I should probably shut up now, before you invite me up for an "OBR business lunch", two weeks after which my zebra mussel-encrusted body will wash up at Mentor Headlands, where it will be discovered by some doofus who found the spare change in my pocket while doing some off-season treasure hunting with his metal detector2.

Yes, it's definitely time to change the subject.

Uh, how about ‘dem Browns?


The worst part wasn't losing to Cincinnati. I saw that one coming a mile away.

But what I thought would happen is that the Bengals would be so fired up to ruin the Browns' season that they would come out and play at the high level that they would probably achieve on a regular basis if they weren't a poorly-coached team full of weak-willed showboating mental cases. My one hope was that the Browns would get off to a hot start, giving the Bengals an excuse to roll over and die.

The Browns lost, but not because of big days from Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, T.J. Hooschmanzahdahdahdah, etc. No, it was mainly because Derek Anderson single-armedly caused a 13-27 point swing in a 5-point ballgame.

The Bengals rolled out of bed and played D/D+ football, and it was still enough to win.

Rob the Bengals Fan called me when it was over, offering his condolences. I'm sure on some level, he was happy his team won, but it didn't seem like this game did much for his psyche as a Bengals fan. "Well, the Bengals rolled over, just like you wished," he said. "I can't believe Derek Anderson found a way to keep that game close, much less lose it. That may have been the worst football game I have ever watched in my life."

For the next half hour, two friends from opposite ends of the state moped about the Battle of Ohio. For Rob, it was depressing that his underperforming team couldn't even muster a solid performance at home against a rival that could have celebrated a playoff berth right in front of them. For me, it was depressing that that feel-good story of a feel-good season painfully gave away the game, and possibly the season, one inconceivable throw at a time.

It's one thing to get beat when a rival rises to the occasion. This was something else, and it was entirely more aggravating and painful.


Other thoughts on the game….

* The Browns sure picked a good week to screw up. Due to the holidays, the office was pretty barren this week. The Bengals fans were away buying up all that 50%-off Bengal gear, and the Steelers fans had all returned to rural Appalachia, where they unwrapped second-hand hubcaps beside the warm, comfortable glow of an open toaster oven.

I still had to deal with Ross the Dolphin fan though. "I laughed when the Browns lost that game," he said. "I did feel bad for you though. Not other Browns fans, just you. You're….let's see…‘classy' is definitely not the word I'm looking for…but I like you. So I do feel kinda bad for you when your teams choke all the time. But otherwise I think it's hilarious."

I still haven't decided if taking crap from a fan of a 1-14 team makes me feel better or worse.

* I have to give credit to Rob the Bengals Fan, who offered a prescient warning on Thursday. "The worst thing that can happen for you guys would be if Rudi Johnson is ruled out and Kenny Watson gets to play." Sure enough, Watson got to play and had a huge first half, and finished with 130 yards on the afternoon. He was one of the few legitimate bright spots for the Bengals all day.

(And I am not penalizing Rob for saying "the worst thing that could happen for you guys", because…well….nobody saw anything like THAT coming.)

* You know how older stadiums and arenas always used to have seats directly behind poles and pillars? And you'd always wonder who on earth would buy those seats? Well, guys like Derek Anderson, that's who. The mystery has been solved. After Sunday, we now have conclusive evidence that there are guys who are equipped with the type of x-ray vision that allows them to fixate on something and then see right through anything and everything that's in the way. (In fact, I bet when that chick from Scappoose got naked for Playboy, Anderson was confused. "What's the big deal? She always looks like that.")

* I know it's fashionable to crack on Anderson after last week, but hey, it comes with the territory of being an NFL quarterback. The rest of the team made some blunders as well. There was the failed 4th-and-1, the botched field goal attempt, a few drops, poor run defense, Josh Cribbs' failure to run multiple kicks back for touchdowns, etc. But the bottom line is that even after factoring in all of those other elements, the Browns still would have won the game handily if it weren't for four mind-boggling throws. That's not to bash Derek Anderson. It's just the truth. Among the many reasons that I hope the Browns back into the playoffs is that I don't want to see Anderson's fun and improbable season overshadowed by last week's nightmare, much like how C.C. Sabathia's incredible season was overshadowed by his playoff beat-down, or how Paul Byrd's 15-win season was overshadowed by his choice in pituitary dentists.

* When Shayne Graham doinked his field goal attempt off the upright, only to have it carry well through the posts, Phil Dawson probably rolled his eyes and muttered, "Amateur."


Well, that's all for now Barry. I have a crazy weekend ahead of me. I am about to leave for Dayton to watch the Flyers take on Pitt. I'm not much of a basketball fan, but my good buddy Flick is a proud Dayton alum and a huge Flyer fan, so I am sure tonight is going to be a blast. (Dayton must not produce very intelligent alumni, as Flick has failed to figure out that my track record of rooting against teams from Pittsburgh clearly demonstrates that my efforts almost always result in a Pittsburgh victory.)

Then tomorrow I will probably watch meaningless football games to kill time until our Colts play. I am such a huge Colts fan that last night I bought a minivan with flames and a big #18 decal on the side. And since I'm never going to have rock-hard abs, I went out and bought some bigger shirts. Colts ones. Like Jared used to wear.

Some people may scoff at my devotion to the Colts and accuse me of being a frontrunner, but the truth is on my side. I have stuck with them through the darkest times. In fact, since they have become my #1 favorite team in the whole wide world, they haven't won a single game. But being the dedicated fan that I am, that won't stop me from cheering their backups on Sunday.

Wishing you a happy new year,



Steve Sirk, once Art Bietz's co-conspirator at the TruthCenter, has taken to sending a weekly letter to "home base" about life as a Browns fan struggling in the NFL mixing pot of Central Ohio. At some point in life, Sirk determined that suffering through the nexus, dips, valleys, and various low points of being a Cleveland sports fan within geographic proximity of Cleveland itself did not create sufficient emotional pain. Sneeringly dismissive of even basic survival instincts, Sirk elected to reside in Columbus, Ohio, so that he could better be surrounded by fans of winning franchises who could mock his very existence. If you wish to contact an individual of such clearly questionable judgment, you may do so at


1. What Mr. Sirk doesn't realize is that, technically, it wasn't a lame-ass "prediction column". It was a lame-ass "year-end numbered list column". Which is perfectly allowable under the New-o-Rama restrictions set forth on 12/23/2007

2. Searching for dead bodies with change in their pockets at Mentor Headlands is, in fact, the OBR's 2008 business plan.

- BDMc



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