Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cleveland's Three Stooges 

I attended my share of news conferences in Cleveland while working in The Plain Dealer sports department and in Cleveland radio more years ago than I care to admit.

I heard thousands of questions directed at various sports personalities – athletes, coaches, managers and front-office types – in that time. Most of them, including a few too many from yours truly, were of the softball variety.

They were lobbed with amazing regularity in an effort to avoid antagonizing those at whom they were directed. It was much easier to cultivate a source by asking soft questions.

And while many questions directed at Jimmy Haslam III and Joe Banner during Monday’s news conference announcing the firing of Rob Chudzinski arrived with a hard-than-usual edge, one in particular stood out for its brazenness.

Never before have I heard such a blatantly direct question asked of any Cleveland sports personality in a news conference. It had a pin attached to it and was lobbed right at Haslam.

Dan DeRoos from WOIO Channel 19 pulled that pin. DeRoos introduced himself as a news reporter, not a sports reporter, about 12 minutes into the conference and asked his question following the preamble:

“This is a small, small sampling from our Facebook page, which, as you can imagine, blew up (after the Chudzinski firing was announced late Sunday night),” DeRoos began and then read several posts.

“ ‘This team remains an embarrassment not only to the NFL, but the fans as well. We deserve better.’

“ ‘Who really cares anymore?’

“ ‘They have lost their fans trying to outsmart the rest of the league and frankly, they’ve encouraged apathy instead of hope.’

“ ‘Totally done with anything Browns. Haslam (and these are their words, interjected DeRoos) Haslam and his stooges Banner and (Mike) Lombardi can pack up and get out of Cleveland.' "

Then DeRoos dropped the bomb. “Jimmy, can you assure the fans – their words, not mine – that you don’t have the Three Stooges running this operation?”

During the 45 seconds it took DeRoos to frame his question, Haslam winced a couple of times and dropped his head another time before gathering himself to answer. He did not look pleased at all.

“Listen, I feel really confident we have the right people to take this organization where we need go, OK?” he began. “I think what the fans need to understand is –and you all have heard me say this on numerous occasions – we have the best fans in the world, OK? And I’ve said our fans deserve better.

“What I want our fans to hear is nobody cares more about winning or is going to work any harder to get us there than the people you’re looking at right now (Haslam and Banner sat side by side), particularly the owner, OK? We take this extremely seriously.”

Nowhere in that answer did he answer the original question. He obviously chose to ignore the Three Stooges reference.

When you have nowhere else to go, mention the greatest fans in the world. It works more often than it doesn’t.

Bottom line is DeRoos needs to get out of news pronto and into sports at Channel 19 so he can attend more news conferences and ask more feet-to-the-fire questions like this.

It’s time those who run the Browns be held accountable. There are a couple in the Cleveland media who do. It's not nearly enough.


  1. As usual, Rich, you hit your topic's point dead on. Alas, as you pointed out, we all know no mainstream sports reporters will ever ask the questions that are the ones fans really want to hear asked and answered - such as asking management to explain their moves, etc. That's why I don't read MKC anymore, and stick to the kids who aren't afraid to tell the emperor he has no clothes, such as yourself and the cleveland reboot guy, etc. If the Browns ever start winning, then I won't mind reading the mainstream cheerleading, but until then, I'd rather read someone who knows that a pig by any other PR campaign is still a pig (and that a career marginal journeyman QB is not 'elite' - Holy Eye Rolls, Batman!). My only beef with you is that you don't write on a daily basis! Thanks!


  2. Hi DW,

    Thanx for the post and the kind words.

    As for other beat people in Cleveland, try reading Steve Doerschuk in the Canton Repository. I believe he and Tony Grossi are the best of the Cleveland media.

    Both have keen insight as to what's really happening with that team. The others are nothing more than glorified mouthpieces. They're nice people, but . . .

    As for writing every day, that would give me less time to enjoy my retirement. And I definitely am enjoying it.

    Thanx again and don't be a stranger even if we don't agree.


    1. Got you covered on those two - I read Grossi daily, been a fan of his since the 80's. espncleveland is my first net stop every night after I see if you have anything new out. I used to read Doerschuk regularly, like him a lot too, but then that site started limiting reading to one or two articles a month without a subscription, so I don't catch him too much anymore. I also like the guy who writes under the jim kanicki byline - exceptional analyst, and a great read in the offseason, but he spends most of the season itself writing about some fantasy league he's in, which isn't my bag, so I don't spent much time there in-season. I moved to Atlanta some years ago and the net's the only way I keep up with the Brownies, so it's a major plus when I find discriminating writers such as yourself and those few. Glad you're enjoying your retirement, and even gladder that you're still keeping your hand in from time to time!


  3. it was nice to laugh at a press conference instead of just shake my head in disbelief.

    Re: columnists/bloggers,
    Kanick is pretty good too, no BS.

    Don't mind Pat Mcmanamon, either. Anyone who's photo (used to) show him hoisting a glass of Guinness is okay in my book. he recently had some info on Norv speaking out at the recent meeting with coaches after Chud was fired. good for Norv.

  4. Hi Strummer,

    Kanicki is extremely good. Doesn't mess around. Not afraid to criticize. But he is not an everyday kind of guy. Pat Mac, on the other hand, is and you are right. He, too, is not averse on putting on the gloves and dishing it out. He was that way at the ABJ, too.

    The Cleveland media needs more of that type, especially to expose the arrogance of the front office. Only problem there is that F.O. has nothing about which to be arrogant.

    I don't like arrogance to begin with. There is nothing wrong with at least a touch of humility. People who are arrogant are easy targets for writers and bloggers like me.

    Some snake oil salesmen hide themselves very well. Others expose themselves sooner or later. Right now, Banner & Co. are headed in that direction and it will not be tolerated at least in this tiny corner.

    Thanx for the comment and Happy New Year.


  5. Thanks Rich. Happy New Year to you as well.
    Keep up the good work!