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Published: Wednesday, 10/28/2009

Cleveland hopes Acta will be big shot for Tribe

Prior to Cleveland's search for a new baseball manager, many Indian fans had never heard of Manny Acta.

Currently, most Browns fans wish they had never heard of Eric Mangini.

Mangini was hired after being fired as coach of the New York Jets. Acta was hired this week after being fired by the Washington Nationals, which are baseball's laughing-stock version of the Browns.

So, the lack of a ticker-tape parade by fans to welcome Acta to town is understandable.

As he pointed out, though, when it was mentioned his credentials (158-252 as a major league manager) may not make him an instant celebrity: "The big shots weren't always big shots."

It takes a few big shots of 80-proof sour mash to watch an entire Browns game these days and, just seven weeks into the regular season, some have already seen enough. And we're not just talking about those Browns who appear to have lost confidence in a coach who was not popular in the locker room from day one.

One columnist, a respected one, on the other side of the state, says it's already time for Browns' owner Randy Lerner to admit his mistake in hiring Mangini and to rectify it by un-hiring him.

Pat McManamon of the Akron Beacon Journal wrote that Mangini "has done nothing with this team except make it worse … It's not overly beaten up and it's not an expansion team, yet it's the worst Browns team since the jubilant return in 1999."

McManamon pointed out that this is Mangini's team using his approach with his coaching staff and with his roster - 23 new players on opening day and, now, a total of 10 ex-Jets on the team.

The Browns hit rock bottom, if there is indeed such a place for them, on Sunday with a 31-3 loss at home to the Packers to drop to 1-6. The one win was by three points at Buffalo on a day quarterback Derek Anderson completed two passes. There's the 2009 highlight film for you.

Against the Packers, Anderson was 12-of-29 for 99 yards, one interception and two fumbles. He has completed 33 percent of his passes for 244 yards in the last three games.

Yet, Mangini said it never crossed his mind to yank Anderson for one-time starter and current backup Brady Quinn during Sunday's game. And, after watching the tape, he offered an emphatic "no" when asked if he'd be making a quarterback change for this Sunday's game in Chicago.

What tape was he watching?

Mangini said Anderson "gives us the best chance right now to move the ball." Considering that looks like no chance to the rest of us, it must be an indication of just how firmly Quinn is backed against the far wall in the coach's doghouse. We can only hope he isn't claustrophobic.

Other than as an insurance policy against injury, the former first-round draft pick from Notre Dame is apparently of little or no use, at present or future, to Mangini.

When asked if his team needed a talent upgrade, Mangini said, "I think we can perform a lot better with the group of players and coachesthat we have."

That, of course, is a non-answer to a no-win question for a coach. Admitting you need a talent upgrade won't exactly endear you to the current talent.

Acta, however, will face that exact prospect with the Indians, who operate as a small-market team on even their biggest of days. Recent history says he will have until the All-Star break to win with what talent he has, healthy or otherwise, before the annual fire sale begins.

Fans who watch tonight's first game of the World Series will note that former Indians Cy Young winner CC Sabathia will start for the Yankees against Cliff Lee, a former Indians Cy Young winner now with the Phillies. And the Philadelphia manager is Charlie Manuel, who was a small shot while managing the Indians, but is a big shot now.

Maybe Acta will become a big shot, too. Maybe it will even happen in Cleveland.

Heck, maybe he'll even know when it's time to change quarterbacks.

Contact Blade sports columnist

Dave Hackenberg

at: dhack@theblade.com

or 419-724-6398.

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