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The AFL Exchange: Cleveland Takes a Trip to the Basement

Brian Beaudry
Thursday June 6, 2013

 First, the numbers:


For those of us who are able to see things better visually, I started graphing teams’ EXCH+ a few weeks ago and seeing where the teams went from there. The league basically has separated itself into three bands: In the first, there is Arizona and Spokane. At the bottom, Orlando, Pittsburgh, New Orleans have a four-way battle going on wherein the best team will get a playoff spot, the worst team will be the worst in the league, and the two in the middle will be largely forgotten.

Between those two extremes are eight teams that have a lot of movement in the rankings between them, though they never seem to crack the other two groups no matter how well or poorly they do.

Congratulations, Cleveland, you pulled off the most complete game of the season. Unfortunately, it was by having the worst offensive and defensive performances in the league in the same game. In fact, the performance was so awful, it earned the Gladiators the basement position in the AFL, something which it seemed the VooDoo were destined to control for the rest of the season after their debacle against Iowa.
Week 11 Top OFF+: Spokane
Bottom OFF+: Cleveland
Week 11 Top DEF+: Arizona
Bottom DEF+: Cleveland
Week 11 Top TOT+: Spokane
Bottom TOT+: Cleveland
This past week I went to Cooperstown and Springfield, Mass. to check out the baseball and basketball Halls of Fame, since it turns out they’re relatively nearby. It was a trip of ups, downs, summer road construction, and obnoxious truck drivers. With us in the middle of the trip that is the AFL regular season, I’m going to compare each game to an aspect of the trip.

Iowa at Cleveland
:  Because hotels in Cooperstown like to start gouging customers in summer because that’s when everyone comes to visit, we planned on starting Monday in Cooperstown, which meant we had to wake up a little before 6 a.m. in order to get there before they opened at nine. Then we’d spend the late afternoon/evening driving to Springfield, where we had a hotel, and would go to the Basketball Hall of Fame the next day. For Cleveland fans, I have to imagine this season has been pretty much like that 5:55 alarm, as they bury their heads in their hands and think, “Why did I agree to do this again?” I’m picking the Barnstormers to win this comfortably.

Utah at Chicago
: When we got to our hotel room Monday night, as we were pulling into the parking space, I felt the power steering go out. After a few expletives, I googled the location of the nearest auto parts store so I could get some power steering fluid. Since it was less than a mile away, I ran there instead of trying to break out the U-turns somewhere I’ve never been. Anyway, I finally got the fluid, filled up the car, and tested it out in the parking lot…and watched it all go directly through to the ground. Similarly, the Blaze lost the steering on their offense early this season and haven’t been able to fix the damage, as they continue to lose games against lesser opponents. Maybe they sat around for eight hours this week and get it fixed. I’ll hope they did and pick them again even though I probably shouldn’t.

New Orleans at Philadelphia
: New Orleans season had nothing going for it. Everything had sucked…until Cleveland came to town and they just had a great time, putting points on points on points. Similarly, after the car had to go in for repairs, we had to wait a couple hours to see if they could fit us in (they had been booked for the day with appointments). My phone battery started dying. And then…they fit us in. While we were waiting, though, we realized the Hall was down the street. And restaurants were all over the area. And when we got to the Hall, it was nearly empty because it was a Tuesday and it was only open for a couple more hours. Everything broke back our way and it felt like the VooDoo felt last week. Can they continue it against Philly? Philly did, after all, lose to the Gladiators. Probably not. The Soul win this one…but at least the VooDoo will always have last week.

Orlando at Tampa Bay
: Every single rest stop/service area/whatever they want to call it on I-90 in NY or MA seems to have a McDonald’s and some other restaurant that isn’t a direct competitor of McDonald’s. First of all, I’m hoping the states are getting their fair share from these exclusive contracts (there aren’t many exits from these highways). Secondly, the War on I-4, like McDonald’s, is to national broadcasts what McDonald’s is to fast food – it’s not all that great and no one’s really excited about it, but at least people recognize it and know it won’t kill them.

This matchup, however, could be one of those good bad games, where two teams that aren’t great produce an exciting game by countering averageness with averageness and ending up with a single-play-to-win-it situation.  I’m taking Tampa Bay.

Arizona at San Antonio
: This game is going to be like the Basketball Hall of Fame – features a lot of greats, but ultimately no one in town is even going to care that it’s there. Oddly enough, the reason San Antonio won’t care at all about this game is because, well, their basketball team is in the Finals. And that’s a little bit bigger of a deal than watching your team become the next team to get run over by the Rattlers.

Jacksonville at Spokane
: This one reminds me more of the Baseball Hall of Fame – it’s in Spokane, where the fans seem to be more dedicated than they are in other cities, and while people might like to act as though it’s not big time enough for them, no one really leaves town disappointed. Well, except maybe Sharks fans, because the Shock win this one.

Pittsburgh at San Jose
: Hey, this game is going to happen too! San Jose wins because they don’t suck.

Last week:  4-3. Season total: 16-12.

Brian Beaudry has been both an intern and a Director of Communications within the AFL and occasionally provides analysis of the league and the Portland Thunder as an Oregon resident. He maintains a blog, Wrong Way Sports, and you can reach him with research or graphic design suggestions on Twitter at @BeaudryPDX.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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