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After a lackluster season, the Cleveland Cavaliers continued onward, prepping for the future and on Thursday night, they drafted three young, talented pieces in Darius Garland, Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr. Pairing the trio with last season’s number eight pick, Collin Sexton, allows the Cavaliers to develop young talent; it’s something they haven’t done in what seems like a lifetime. When you throw in fan favorites Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic, the Cavaliers have amassed a nucleus of talent. The eldest of the group being Nance at age 26. That means that as a fan base, there must be an understanding that player development is key to the turnaround of the franchise. Patience is a virtue.

Without the allure of LeBron James, the organization will have to rely on building a contender primarily through the draft. Think the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics. Although they can acquire talent via trade, they currently don’t possess the cap space to do so.

However, in the 2020-21 season, only four players will be owed guaranteed money (Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., Collin Sexton, and Ante Zizic) totaling $51,831,442 meaning, at the very least, they can attempt to lure higher profile players with the promise of a max contract.

But don’t count on it.

That’s where trading for talent would come in, making the blueprint to success (more like the Toronto Raptors than the teams mentioned above).

The future could very well be bright, but it all starts with this upcoming season. With a roster full of shooters and playmakers, this year’s team should be more of what every Cavs fan hoped last years team would be. Point guard Collin Sexton has a full NBA season under his belt. A season that saw an abysmal start, but an outstanding post-All-Star Break where he averaged 20 points per game and shot 44.8% from behind the arc. The addition of Darius Garland may very well lead them to be the Portland Trailblazers of the East with two miniature guards who can shoot, move the ball and play off the ball. Players like Larry Nance Jr. and Dylan Windler could play well off of one another, similar to Nance and Jordan Clarkson last season. 

While there are many holes in the roster, new coaches John Beilein, Lindsay Gottlieb, J.B. Bickerstaff and Antonio Lang must learn to make do with what they currently have; to develop the young core, build its confidence and create a system that will ensure the Cleveland Cavaliers won’t be a bottom-tier team for much longer.

Until then, Cavalier fans can look forward to watching the newly acquired talent learn and grow together, shooting the ball at a ridiculous rate along the way, which should make up for the rocky, but an entertaining road that lies ahead. 

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With former head coach John Madden parting ways with the Cleveland Monsters, the team was in need of a new bench boss. It didn’t take long for the Blue Jackets to find a new leader for their top farm team. The Jackets recently announced the addition of new head coach Mike Eaves to Cleveland.

Eaves, an Ontario native, played for the University of Wisconsin – Madison in the mid to late 70’s where he was a member of their championship team in 1977. From the late-70s up to the mid-80s, Eaves played for the Minnesota North Stars and later the Calgary Flames. Eventually, the former NHLer held a number of college coaching positions, most recently the University of Wisconsin where he led the team to a national title in 2006.

Eaves’ resumé speaks for itself. He has experience at the collegiate, professional and international level as either a player and/or coach. Granted, he is somewhat at the mercy of the Blue Jackets when it comes to the roster the team is fed, but the Monsters landed one of the best possible options they could to coach this team. Here is hoping Coach Eaves can bring a second Calder Cup to Monsters’ franchise.

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The reality is that, for the vast majority of us, we were never going to be shooting three-pointers for the Cavs, pitching curveballs for the Indians or sacking quarterbacks for the Browns. We simply weren’t born with the natural ability, nor grew into the physical dimensions, required to become a professional athlete.

And so ‘sports of the mind’ are where many people find their niche, and that perhaps helps to explain the continued rise in popularity of poker, both online and in the various clubs and games rooms that Cleveland has to offer.

There’s a good reason for that, too. For the most part, we can improve our abilities on the poker table – we’re not going to grow an extra six inches overnight to play point guard for the Cavs, or suddenly be able to run the 100m in 10 seconds flat and find ourselves as the running back for the Browns!

We can’t all be LeBron James, after all…

‘LeBron James’ – Keith Allison via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) – The King in his Cavs heyday

For the many, mind sports like poker offer the adrenaline release that athletes get out on the turf or court. They enable us to use our inherent skills – problem-solving, intuition and, for some, deception – in order to profit, whether that’s simply by beating friends and family in a home
game or winning real cash prizes in tournament and sit-and-go play.

You may be a complete newcomer to poker, however, who feels a little unsure about how or where to get started. No problem! This article gives you the skinny on everything you need to know about the game, whether you plan on playing online, at home with friends or at one of Cleveland’s dedicated poker clubs.

Soon enough you should have the confidence and the competence to take your opponents down!

Poker in Cleveland

There are a number of different ways to enjoy poker in Cleveland. For those who want to play online via laptops, smartphones or tablets, there are myriad sites and apps you can enjoy in your own time and on the move.

But if you really want to immerse yourself in the physicality of poker – the tells, the bluffs, the clinking of the chips as they are stacked your way (or not!), there’s no substitute for playing in a licensed premise designed for the game.

Poker buffs in Cleveland have two main options. First up is the JACK Cleveland Casino, formerly known as ‘the Horseshoe’, in Public Square. This venue offers tournaments throughout the week and cash games, with a rewards program and comps at $1 per hour ensuring that those who are loyal to the brand are well rewarded.

In addition, poker players at JACK’s can enjoy food delivered to their table, discount rates for hotel suites and a range of complimentary services including massages. There are 30 tables in all, with tournament buy-ins ranging from $60 to $300 and prize pools up to $30k.

‘Cleveland Public Square’ by Erik Drost (CC BY-SA 2.0) – Public Square in Cleveland

And then across the state of Ohio in Ontario, there’s the Mansfield Gemini Poker Club. This is open four evenings per week and features eight different tables, with a 100% rake free promise ensuring that all prizes won are yours to keep in full. There are both cash games and tournament play at the Mansfield Gemini, with food and drinks brought to your table. There is a phone in list for tournaments which guarantees your seat.

Heading Online

When it comes to online poker in Ohio, it’s worth noting that the game has not been officially legalized in the state. While this means US-based firms can’t set up residence in Ohio and offer their games to poker buffs on state soil, Clevelanders can access poker platforms operating from an off-shore jurisdiction – so you should have no fear in enjoying the game online with one of these providers.

The differences between online and land-based poker are evident, but there are plenty who enjoy both elements of the game and many who actually prefer playing online.

Yes, it is harder to tell when somebody is bluffing or giving yourself an edge by reading your opponents’ body language, but there are numerous benefits to online poker – particularly for those who are new to the game.

The main advantage is the sheer variety of tournaments that you can play. These tend to be available around the clock, so no matter when you find yourself with some spare time to enjoy a leisurely game you will no doubt be able to join a table or participate in cash play.

This proliferation of available games lends itself to players of all budgets too. Buy-ins vary wildly from the conservative to the extravagant, so you can at least be comfortable in knowing that the poker game you are playing is affordable to you.

Indeed, you can even find freerolls and fun games, where the emphasis is on simply playing for the love of poker. If you are completely new to the sport, these are an excellent way of learning the ropes without having to invest any of your own hard-earned cash.

If you are an absolute newbie to poker, there are plenty of resources that you can explore. There are countless guides and poker tips for beginners out there. It has to be said that some are more useful than others. We always prefer those written by people who have been there, done it and got the t-shirt: this one, for example, was written by Chad Holloway who is a World Series of Poker bracelet winner – so when he teaches you about the psychology and the strategy of poker it is well worth taking heed.

From simply relaxing with friends to the ultimate endorphin rush of winning a tournament, poker offers so much to everyone regardless of their motives for playing. With numerous opportunities to play and improve your game in Cleveland, there has never been a better time to get involved!

Ohio’s Most Famous Poker Sons

Our state has a rich heritage in producing winning poker players.

Should you need any inspiration to start playing poker, look no further than Toledo’s David Peters. He taught himself how to play the game back in 2004 – fast forward 15 years and he’s banked nearly $4 million in prize money! He has won bracelets and rings on the World Series of Poker and has ‘cashed’ more than 50 times in tournament play across the US and Europe.

Kevin Stammen learned his craft in the poker clubs of Ohio as a young man and he put that tuition to good use by winning a WSOP bracelet back in 2009, beating off competition from the likes of Phil Ivey and Roland De Wolfe.

Byron Kaverman was born and raised in Fort Jennings and he has gone on to pocket more than $15 million in prize money from tournaments around the world. He’s a WSOP bracelet winner with 34 career cashes and numerous Main Event appearances, so it goes without saying that the psychology degree earned at Tiffin University has come in rather handy at the table.

And now, sadly no longer with us, the final word must go to David ‘Chip’ Reese, who was widely regarded as one of the finest cash players on the planet. The Centerville player was famous for being admitted to Stanford Law School, but just a week before his studies were supposed to begin he won $60k in a cash game and decided to become a poker pro instead.

In the end, he accumulated more than $1.5 million in winnings, with no less a judge than Doyle Brunson calling Reese ‘the best poker player that ever lived.’

Who knows? Maybe you can take the poker world by storm and rep Cleveland alongside these other Ohio greats.

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What an overtime finish! 23-20 Browns win in 2OT!

#4: Jets vs. Browns 1986 AFC Divisional Round Double OT | Top 10 Overtime Finishes of All Time | NFL - YouTube
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Nashville and New Jersey made a trade. Big deal, right? Well, yeah, it kind of was. The Predators sent three-time all-star P.K. Subban to the Devils for defensemen Steve Santini and Jeremy Davies along with their 2019 and 2020 second round picks. In addition, the Devils take on the full brunt of Subban’s $9 million a year contract.

So Subban is back in the East and the Devils instantly got better on defense. While that in and of itself is not imposing upon the Blue Jackets, what has been left open on Nashville’s end does. Columbus has a convoy of unrestricted free agents about to leave the building this summer. Bobrovsky is definitely gone. Panarin is almost definitely gone, although there is a glimmer of hope there that he’ll stay (that’s a grain of sand-sized glimmer). Then there is the curious case of Matt Duchene.

Nashville has their wallet open and they most definitely have their crosshairs on Duchene to put him in a mustard jersey next season. Personally, I believe the more Cup-ready team of the two is Columbus. Unless there is some underlying issue in the Blue Jackets locker room, I would think they hockey-loving, competitive side of Duchene’s brain will want to stay put. However, there is always that pro athlete “what I’m worth” mentality that can override the competitive choice.

Duchene came over at the trade deadline in a deal with Ottawa and his offensive talents will be in big demand this summer. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has always been big on Duchene since Kekalainen was a scout and Duchene was a prospect. Needless to say, Kekalainen was most likely elated when he landed the skilled forward this past season. That might have been one very brief stay though.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that we will not see Duchene in a navy sweater next season. Perhaps that is just the pessimist in me. The Jackets need his goal-scoring prowess, but at the same rate, they need to be cautious to not overpay on his services just for the sake of retaining him. At the end of the day, this is still a business and Columbus will need to re-sign other skilled players in-house in a few years, namely standouts like Zach Werenski and Pierre Luc-Dubois.

Duchene raked in $6 million this past season.  If we start talking $11 million a year for him, it may be time for Kekalainen to reveal his hand and walk away from the table on this deal.

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The Indians called up 1B Bobby Bradley from Triple-A Columbus. This is an exciting move for Cleveland fans that are keen for that next big bopper to join the MLB Lineup!

When Leonys Martin got the DFA slip, fans knew it was time…

From cleveland.com:

“Bradley, 23, hit .292 (75-for-257) including 17 doubles, 24 homers and 55 RBI for the Clippers with a .997 OPS.“

Holy smokes. What took so long?

Well, he had some struggles with losing too much weight which made him feel “weak.” Then, he sprained his right shoulder and missed more time during spring training.

From Fox 8:

“He is hitting .316 (24-for-76) in June with 9 homers and 16 RBI over 19 games and for the year has hit .319 (30-for-94) with 9 HR off left-handed pitching.

His 24 home runs are the fourth-highest total in all of Minor League Baseball to date.”

Despite the fact that the Indians are beginning to play better baseball, this move just makes sense. Truly, they could use more power in a lineup that yearns for it since losing the likes of Edwin Encarnacion and others…

The Tribe ranks 21st in all of baseball when it comes to total team batting. For a squad that is looking to make the playoffs, that’s not very good.

Hopefully, Bradley will be able to help spark the offense that certainly needs it moving into the summer months!

Best of luck, Mr. Bradley, and welcome to THE SHOW!

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With the NBA draft behind us, we can now turn our focus to free agency. While it’s no secret that the Cavaliers are in the middle of a rebuild, an offensive heavy draft class means the Cavs are in desperate need for some defense. While the current roster is 13 deep (including a JR Smith that may or may not still be on the payroll by the time the season rolls around), space before entering the luxury tax, it is imperative that they sign one or more good “3 and D” options this season, due to the thin 2020 free agent draft class. Here are some of the best potentially affordable options for the Cavaliers to pursue this offseason.  

Dorian Finney-Smith

While Dorian’s defensive stats have been lackluster, the fact that he’s been on a subpar Mavericks team that is in the same boat as Cleveland can allow that to be somewhat excusable. At only 26 years old and three seasons into his career, Dorian is an option that is young enough that he could be around for the long haul with the team as well. His shooting has improved steadily over the course of his career thus far. While also super athletic, Finney-Smith has the ability to learn how to work within a better defense, as he showed flashes of it back in college, where he had an average of 4.7 defensive plus-minus while at Florida. 

Noah Vonleh

At 6’ 9, Noah is the tallest of the free agents on the list. He has shown spurts of giving high levels of energy on the defensive end throughout the year, most notably in spurts against Giannis two days after Christmas. Vonleh shows moments of having high energy to play hard on defense, and run hard in transition on both sides of the ball. He also has a decent enough post game to play inside when needed. 

Bojan Bogdanovic

This is probably the longest stretch for the Cavs to sign due to Bojan having the best season of his career thus far. He averaged a career-best in points (18.0), three-point percentage (42.5) and net rating (2.7) to name a few. Bojan is probably in for a sizeable payday, which is why it may not be economically possible for the Cavaliers to sign Bojan. Regardless, Bojan is exactly the type of “3 and D” player that the team needs. A small lineup of Sexton, Garland, Osman, Bogdanovic and Love would be able to compete with most mid-level teams’ small lineups. In the middle of a rebuild, you cannot ask for much better than that. 

All three of these options have the ability to space the floor in order to give the Sexton/Garland back courtroom to operate. Finney-Smith and Vonleh would give the team the best opportunity to get out and run as well. The priority this offseason should most definitely be finding defensive talent that can help space the floor and knock down their open shots. These types of players will be crucial to helping Collin and Darius develop. 

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Remember this classic comeback?

2014/10/5 - FINAL SCORE: CLEVELAND BROWNS 29 ,TENNESSEE TITANS 28 - GREATEST NFL COMEBACK IN HISTORY - YouTube
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Sick people (or formerly sick) are faced with a difficult dilemma. We want support from kind and caring people, but at the same time want to be judged and characterized like everyone else.

I am sick, not with a life-threatening bacterial infection, but none-the-less I can sort of relate in being a part of the sick community like Leonys Martin was last year.

That is why I decided to write this…

Martin hit .199 with 9 HR and 19 RBI this season for the Indians. Those are pretty pedestrian numbers here in late-June.

Of course, we are all thankful he recovered from his illness and is even alive (let alone able to play). However, baseball is a bottom-line business. One has to perform to stay in the big leagues regardless of the circumstances.

I’ll speak for Leonys in saying that I bet he wants to be judged on how he’s performing on the field and not kept on the roster out of sympathy due to the illness he sustained last season.

Thus, don’t feel guilty. Just hope he gets another opportunity elsewhere and be thankful he survived and is back to himself.

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Kevin Love RIDICULOUS 34 Point Quarter l 11.23.16 - YouTube
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