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On the sideline (12-21): Random thoughts, resolutions and yuletide spirit

By Ryan Kaczmarski

Sam Rutigliano’s Superbowl team, where have you gone?

When I was a small child, Christmas time was the time to pull out my “12 Days of a Cleveland Browns Christmas” 45. (For those of you too young to know what a “45” is, it is a 7-inch vinyl record that plays at 45rpm on the turntable). Every Christmas since the 1980 “Kardiac Kids” Browns team captured the hearts of a downtrodden city, until Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore after the 1995 season, my father and I would spin that thing over and over while putting up the decorations in our house, and either talked about how the Browns would finish the season, or whom they would play in the first round of the playoffs. Now the team has been back in Cleveland for over 10 years. There has been only one playoff appearance, and there is no hope in sight (no matter what Mike Holmegren said) for another one.

“Brian Sipe a-passin’…”

The Browns organization owes the fans and the city of Cleveland a winner (whether it is their New Year’s resolution, or maybe next year’s Christmas present). It is obvious that the powers that be do not think Colt McCoy is the quarterback of the future. So what now? Do they draft another QB with an early pick, or do they trade for a veteran? There is a pretty good QB in Matt Flynn up in Green Bay, who only sees the field after the Packers are up by 20 or 30 in the third quarter. Maybe someone in Berea will get it right this time around. Then again, maybe they won’t.

Doug Dieken blocking …”

The Browns will need to address the need for another offensive lineman in either the draft or free agency.

“Both the Pruitts’ moves …”

They do have a stable of talented running backs on the roster. They just need to stay healthy. I’m not sure whether Peyton Hillis will be on the team next year, but Montario Hardesty will be — and he needs to play injury-free for a whole season to be effective. I’m going to wrap this up with the fact that the Browns need defensive secondary, linebacker and special teams help also, not to mention wide receivers. It should be an interesting offseason. Oh, wait, there are still a couple of games to play. OIC, only in Cleveland …

“12 days of a Cleveland Browns Christmas” Lyrics from Youtube

Does anybody care that the NBA is coming back?

The Cleveland Cavaliers will be starting the 2011-12 season at home on Dec. 26 against the Toronto Raptors. I am both excited and curious to see overall first pick Kyrie Irving and fourth overall pick Tristan Thompson get on the floor. I think the shortened season will be a long review process of the players for head coach Byron Scott and the rest of the Cavaliers brass, and don’t expect them to make a run to the playoffs. They could be a lottery team again at the end of the season, but if that gives them a chance to get a 7-footer to play center, that’s good with me.

Go out and watch some great high school sports over the holidays.

Just because the kids are out of school, doesn’t mean they aren’t playing games. MAGNIFICAT gymnastics will be holding its alumni night tonight, with many former Blue Streaks in attendance as visiting coaches. There are holiday tournaments for girls and boys basketball, swimming, wrestling and hockey teams going on between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Also, the game between St. Ignatius and St. Edward is being played at Progressive Field on Jan. 5.

My resolution …

This marks the end of my first calendar year covering high school sports. I hope that everyone has enjoyed the sports pages of West Life. I have learned so many things over the last year (like what a libero is), but I will never be content with my content. I will always strive to be a better reporter and writer. I thank all of you for your readership. Were it not for you, the readers and subscribers, I would not have this job that I love so dearly. I am always open for critiques and comments to make your experience of reading our newspaper a better one, so don’t be shy.

In closing…

I just want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year! Remember, there will be no West Life issue for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. We will be back on Jan. 4 with the 2011-in-review issue. If you have a sports story that you think we should cover, or you would like to submit a photo to print in West Life, please contact me at or call me at 440-871-2214, ext.105.



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