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The Cleveland Browns newfound relevance will bring different challenges -- Bud Shaw's Sports Spin

The Browns open training camp next week with predictions abounding that they will end a long postseason drought. How can that be bad?
Credit: Ron Schwane
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) talks with Odell Beckham Jr (13) during practice at the team's training facility in Berea, Ohio on Thursday, June 6, 2019.

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns finally matter.

Twenty years and 11 head coaches later.

Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Terry Robiskie, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine, Hue Jackson, Gregg Williams, Freddie Kitchens.

We count the interim head coaches here, too, for a couple reasons.

One, therapists say a full unburdening is the quickest path to healing.

Two, Gregg Williams might come looking for me if I didn’t.

This newfound Browns relevancy is not only reflected in the prime-time schedule, though that’s as good a place as any to start.

They play only four 1 p.m. games in their first 10. Monday night against the Jets and Niners. Sunday night against the Rams. 

RELATED: WKYC Channel 3 is primetime home of Browns through 2021

Late afternoon spotlights fall on Browns-Broncos and Browns-Patriots. Then a Thursday nighter against the Steelers.

The challenge for a young team with an even newer head coach is obvious.

But the clinching proof of relevance might just be the reaction to Colin Cowherd’s take that the Browns season path is a predictable one.

That they will have a rough start in the first eight games, hit their stride late but then — being such a young team — “crash hard” in the playoffs.

If that take upsets you, or you think it’s a critical evaluation, please show your work in coming to this conclusion.

Assuming that work includes the numbers 0-16, 1-15 and 7-8-1, the better conclusion to draw is that going to the playoffs and losing short of the Super Bowl is a high compliment in most any city let alone in one that last saw the playoffs in 2002.

Doesn’t matter if the postseason for the Browns is football’s answer to the Hindenburg.

  • Kids, if you don’t want to take the time to Google the Hindenburg, no need really. Just watch Rory McIlroy’s first hole in front of his countrymen at Royal Portrush Thursday.
  • A snowman in golf is a 8. Given the weather in Northern Ireland, where a snowman is often a snowman, we felt the need to clarify.
  • David Duval, who plays part-time these days and does far better work in the broadcast booth, scored a 14 on No. 7 at Royal Portrush after hitting two provisionals off the tee and misidentifying the proper one to play.

Golf rule of thumb: It’s never good when a golfer has put more balls in the air than a juggler.

  • When the Indians catch the Twins — a strong probability by the looks of it — what then?

Being a division winner a year ago didn’t result in an October run. Do you have any more faith in this roster than last year’s?

Talk amongst yourselves. 

  • Unless the Indians are going to add to this roster (beyond the return of Corey Kluber) —  not subtract or stand pat — I don’t see the advantage of turning down a significant trade package for Trevor Bauer. 
  • I still think Bauer gets dealt before the deadline. He’s the best available pitcher. The Indians don’t want to pay him the $18 million or so he’s likely to get in arbitration next year. And as we’ve mentioned numerous times he doesn’t want to sign long term here or anywhere.

He’s spelled out his terms of engagement with the Indians and any other suitor as clearly as he’s spelled out his dating rules.

  • Bauer is 5-1 in his last seven starts.

The only glitch is when he allowed five home runs in a stretch of five at-bats to the Twins Max Kepler.

Finally, someone who has completely figured out Trevor Bauer.

  • John Elway says the Broncos “finally feel pretty good” about their quarterback situation. It’s odd when a VP of football doesn’t know in July that his team signed Joe Flacco.
  • The Nets say Kevin Durant chose them in free agency because he liked how hard they played this past season and wanted to be part of their system.

Durant made his choice without taking a meeting with the team. GM Sean Marks says he has “no concern” about that.

So Durant comes to town with an Achilles injury that will keep him out for the season and without ever meeting face-to-face with the team.

What could go wrong?

  • The Atlantic League is experimenting with a rule change that allows stealing first base.

Before Manny Ramirez starts telling people he was a man way ahead of his time, tell him they mean from home plate and not from second base.

  • Hue Jackson is getting ripped for saying he did his “best work” as Cleveland Browns head coach despite records of 1-15 and 0-16 in his two full seasons.

In an unrelated matter, I guess You Said It qualifies as my best work then.

  • Anthony Davis says he will put the Lakers roster “up against anyone.”

Which I think is the way the NBA season works.

Since there’s no other alternative, so will the Cavs.

  • The Lakers should be good with Davis and LeBron James for sure. But if that’s the best roster in the NBA, I’m Idris Elba and JR Smith deserves to get this jersey retired.
  • The Lakers won’t comment on a report that LeBron James will play point guard.

Imagine. James expected to always have the ball in his hands in the point guard role as opposed to always having the ball in his hands in the role of LeBron James.

  • The NBA has approved a Coach’s Challenge once per game for goaltending, out of bounds calls and for fouls called against one’s team.

NBA players will continue to challenge every other call made in the game.

  • Browns tight end David Njoku calls Odell Beckham Jr. a “phenomenal” fit.

Could we at least show some restraint and wait to make that pronouncement at a more appropriate time.

 Like the first snap of training camp?

  • Beckham could actually be a phenomenal fit but, one mini camp aside,  mostly he’s been fitting in by fitting out (to borrow a LeBron phrase) of team activities since the trade.
  • Phillies reliever Hector Neris directed a F-bomb at the Dodgers dugout after getting the final out.

The Dodgers were upset with Neris antics until it was later explained to them that the F bomb in Philly is the equivalent of saying, “Have a good one.”

  • Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected after a rant at home plate in which he called his players “savages” for how hard they make opposing pitchers work.

Boone was protesting a Brett Gardner strikeout on what he considered a pitch outside the  zone.

So Boone was referencing that and not the fact that Gardner banged his bat on the ground numerous times in the dugout before repeatedly banging it on the underside of the dugout roof.

  • Tiger Woods never looked loose or fluid in shooting a 78 in the first round of the British Open.

Woods chalked it up to age and injuries suffered over the years.

“Standing on the range hitting balls off four or five hours, go play 36, come back, run four or five miles and then go to the gym — those days are gone,” said Woods.

It’s almost, but not quite, like he never had time to fool around.

  • Have a weekend.