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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Marla Ridenour: Haslam heads to Pilot, Indians get serious and other quick thoughts

By Marla Ridenour Published: February 12, 2013

Quick thoughts:

I’m not totally surprised at Monday’s announcement that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is returning as CEO of Pilot Flying J. In the final episode of “NFL Road Tested” on the Travel Channel, Haslam is seen asking how much he would be needed in Berea in the off-season. Clearly he was already thinking of returning to his “first love” in Knoxville.

I expect the hard-working owner to keep a close eye on what’s going on at Browns’ headquarters, even from a few hours away. I assume major football decisions will require his approval. I can’t see Haslam becoming as much of a defacto owner as Randy Lerner; he seems too hard-wired for that to happen.
But Monday’s news did suck a little more air out of my balloon in terms of the Browns’ front office changes, especially when it comes to the energy Haslam brings to the building. Hopefully coach Rob Chudzinksi, offensive coordinator Norv Turner and defensive coordinator Ray Horton have enough to go around.
In Haslam’s absence, CEO Joe Banner and vice president of player personnel Mike Lombardi take on much bigger roles, bigger than they’ve ever held before in the NFL. The business side appears well taken care of, now with another addition in John Compton, the PepsiCo exec hired in September by Pilot Flying J, as a Browns advisor.
Meanwhile, note to Jimmy: Need a house-sitter in Bratenahl?

WITH THE ADDITION of outfielder Michael Bourn, the Indians have exceeded my expectations following the hiring of manager Terry Francona.

I had hoped Francona would be able to convince the Dolans what they needed to spend to compete in the AL Central. But the free agent signings of Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds and Brett Myers and trades for Drew Stubbs, Trevor Bauer and Mike Aviles have been the kind of moves fans have long been pushing for. (I’m discounting the signings of Jason Giambi, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Scott Kazmir as merely kicking the tires on old retreads who may have nothing left.)

Obviously, the Dolans’ sale of SportsTime Ohio to FOX gave them a much-needed cash infusion. But the talent infusion seems stunning, even if the rotation still needs help.

JUST WONDERING if the Akron Zips, owners of the nation’s longest winning streak, are capable of beating the offensively challenged Ohio State Buckeyes right now. Would love to see UA get the chance to find out in the NCAAs.

IF THE BROWNS land Ravens pass rusher Paul Kruger in free agency, he will join the list of players I featured as possible fits for the team coming into the draft. Eric Steinbach and LeCharles Bentley remain 1-2 in that personal category.

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