On the Davenport: Cleveland Sports Talk With Guys Who Do it for a Living

With restaurants forced to close their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ole’ blog is taking a respite from restaurant reviews. I have a few in the hopper, and my fingers are crossed that those establishments—as well as businesses everywhere—can reopen once the ban on public gatherings is lifted.

In the meantime, we’re going to focus on interviews. I’ve talked with a lot of interesting people in the area lately. They have worthwhile stories to share. I’ll be posting them in the coming weeks.

Today’s post/interview will focus on one of life’s great escapes—sports. We could all use a break from the coronavirus. What do you say we talk Baker, Browns, Lindor, Indians, Cavs (and much more) with the guys who do it for a living?

The event took place when public gatherings were still permitted.

As part of my job as digital content coordinator for Elk and Elk, I attended Cleveland Jewish News‘ (CJN) “Les is More” event earlier this month at Buffalo Wild Wings in Warrensville Heights. Moderated by CJN sports columnist Les Levine, the event featured a panel discussion with notable Cleveland sports personalities.

• Andy Baskin, co-host of Baskin & Phelps on 92.3 The Fan

• Adam “the Bull” Gerstenhaber, co-host of Bull & Fox on 92.3 The Fan

• Aaron Goldhammer, co-host of The Really Big Show on 850 ESPN Cleveland

• Jonathan Peterlin, weekend host and anchor at 92.3 The Fan

From left to right: Adam “the Bull,” Andy Baskin, Aaron Goldhammer and Jonathan Peterlin

Much of the morning’s discussion centered on baseball and the Indians, with a healthy sampling of Browns and Cavs talk mixed in. Here’s what the Cleveland media personalities had to say about various sports topics:

The Houston Astros’ cheating scandal
Gerstenhaber: “I hate [what they did] as a baseball fan, but I don’t think it’s a big problem [for the sport]. The Astros being hated across the country— though a disgrace to the game—isn’t a big problem.”

Ways to grow baseball’s popularity
Goldhammer: “Improve technology—let highlights be distributed outside of the Major League Baseball (MLB) app.”

Gerstenhaber: “Mic up the players. Spring training has been great since they’ve done it.”

Problems that baseball needs to overcome
Goldhammer: “When I was growing up, Ken Griffey Jr., Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson were the biggest stars in sports. They all had unique and different personalities. I think baseball has a serious star and marketability problem that is the number one factor.”

Gerstenhaber: “MLB’s efforts—while some are positive—to speed up the game are pointless. There’s no rule you can make in baseball that would significantly change the [length] of the game.”

Peterlin: “[MLB commissioner] Rob Manfriend is a used car salesman.”

Goldhammer: “It doesn’t help that Opening Day is on March 26.”
*Author’s note: To reiterate, this conversation occurred in early March.

Why don’t the Indians get more attention?
Gerstenhaber: “Young people have no attention span. Football and basketball are action movies. Baseball is a drama.”

Peterlin: “[In other sports] we keep the conversation going when the games aren’t going.”

Francisco Lindor is under contract with the Indians for two more seasons.

Francisco Lindor and the payroll
Gerstenhaber: “[Paul] Dolan is a good owner. The Indians should absolutely sign Francisco Lindor. We shouldn’t accept [the Indians’] $90-million payroll. The only debate is does it make sense to sign a guy to a 10-year, $300-million deal. Lindor is a once-in-a-generation player.”

Baskin: “There’s no way the Indians will pay to keep him. They should but they won’t.”

Gerstenhaber: “Cleveland as a small-market town is a bogus narrative. The Indians are lucky to have Chris Antonetti, Mike Chernoff and Terry Francona. Nobody can convince me that [the Dolans] can’t afford a $150-million payroll. To prove it, open your books.”

Levine: “Dolan paid $300 million for the team. He can sell it for $1.2 billion.”

Baseball in Cleveland
Baskin: “The interest is there. The TV and radio numbers [are great].”

Gerstenhaber: “I don’t traditionally think [Cleveland] is a baseball town. I hate to say that, especially [here] you probably think we are, but if you go look at the attendance numbers in the years the Indians are outside the playoffs, the numbers are horrible.”

Baskin: “Baseball is so regional. I don’t traditionally think [Cleveland] is a baseball town. Every football game is an event.”

The Corey Kluber trade
Peterlin: “[Kluber] will be lucky to have an ERA near four in Texas.”

Gerstenhaber: “[Emmanuel Clase] could become Aroldis Chapman. I think the best of Kluber is behind us.”

Yasiel Puig
Gerstenhaber: “[Puig still being unsigned] doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Goldhammer: “I think [the Indians] are conscious of clubhouse issues.”

Gerstenhaber: “I had heard that he was fine here … The past couple of years, it’s been a bad offseason for baseball.”

How will the Indians finish in the Central Division?
Gerstenhaber: “The Indians’ margin for error is slimmer than its been. [Mike] Clevinger, [Carlos] Carrasco and [Shane] Bieber are the three best pitchers in the division. I would predict Twins, Indians, White Sox.”

Goldhammer: “The Indians have the best pitcher in the division, the best player in the division and the best manager in the division – when you have those three things you should win the division.”

The Cavs
Gerstenhaber: “I wouldn’t watch the NBA at all if I didn’t [talk sports] for a living.”

Baskin: “[Cavs owner] Dan Gilbert spends money like it’s crazy. He went all in and we won a championship.”

While they’ve lacked stability, the Cavs and owner Dan Gilbert brought a championship to Cleveland.

Goldhammer: “Four coaches in a year and a half.”

Gerstenhaber: “The Cavs are a terrible team. It feels hopeless. You can’t trust the owner.

Goldhammer: “My hope is that Bronny James gets drafted by the Cavs and LeBron comes back.”

Browns fans, the move and Art Modell
Peterlin: “I’ve never seen a football fanbase like this.”

Gerstenhaber: “It’s inconceivable to me that the team could have been moved in 1995. Art Modell to the Hall of Fame should have never been a conversation.”

Baskin (on the team moving in 1995): “We thought we won just by keeping the name and colors.”

Levine (Sarcasm): “Modell deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because he fired Bill Belichick and Paul Brown.”  

It’s an important year for Baker Mayfield.

Outlook on Baker Mayfield and the Browns
Goldhammer: “The organization declared Baker as the second coming of the greatest quarterback we have ever seen.”

Baskin: “[Mayfield] needs to be pushed. Baker has work to do.”  

Gerstenhaber: “I should have never given [Freddie Kitchens] the benefit of the doubt. The problem is that you don’t know if you can trust some of the biggest stars on the team. Baker and Odell have to prove they can grow up. Baker talks like he has everything figured out. He has nothing figured out.”

Goldhammer: “I don’t get the sense that Baker worked hard on his craft between year one and year two.”

Peterlin: “I have optimism about Baker. Baker was right in believing he knew more than Hue Jackson and Freddie Kitchens. He never had a chance from jump street.”  

Goldhammer: My fear is that Baker is a six-foot quarterback without great physical traits.

Myles Garrett 
Goldhammer: “He’ll be the most scrutinized player in the league.”  

Peterlin: “Something changed with Myles. He’ll be [officiated] very hard.”  

Gerstenhaber: “I don’t think he’ll be [officiated] differently. If we have another incident this year, that’s going to change it.”

The NFL replay system
Goldhammer: “Video replay should only be used when there is an egregious mistake.”

Peterlin: “If you go down that road [where everything is reviewable under four minutes], you run the risk of turning into the NBA where in the final two minutes, it takes you two hours to get the game done.”

Gerstenhaber: “Everything should be reviewable. If it’s an obvious error, correct it. If you can’t tell in 15 seconds, move on.”

How to be a good owner in sports
Gerstenhaber: “It’s what Dolan is, but spending more money. Be involved but not too involved. Trust the people you hire until they prove to you that you can’t. If the owner thinks he is a general manager, [your team] is probably going to fail.”

Goldhammer: “Trust that the people you hire are going to do their jobs.”

Coming soon: We have interviews lined up—Travis Howe, the chief cookie officer of Fat T’s Cookies; Scott O’Con of Tours of Cleveland; Northeast Ohio insiders the CLE girls; and Stephanie Sutton of Easy Codes for Kids.

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