October winds kick up surprises

Just when you think you've got the sporting world figured out, October winds swirl. To wit:
UIn their third season as an expansion team, the Cleveland Browns are 4-2 and in second place in the AFC Central standings.
UThe only team ahead of the Browns six weeks into the NFL season are the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1), who have already played half of their road schedule. The Steelers' remaining trips are to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tennessee and Baltimore.
UThe Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans already have three losses apiece. Their chances of securing home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs are evaporating.
UBrowns coach Butch Davis could be the NFL's Coach of the Year. Unless Steelers coach Bill Cowher gets it for winning with a team that can't pass successfully.
We admit it -- we thought it was unfair when Browns president Carmen Policy fired Chris Palmer last January after a 5-27 mark.
We were wrong. Paying Davis $3 million per year to clean house was a brilliant move. Policy could win another NFL Executive of the Year honor.
UAfter winning the 2000 Division IV state championship with a 14-1 record, the Ursuline High football team will finish at the bottom of the Steel Valley Conference standings with a 1-3 mark. The forfeit to Cardinal Mooney means the Irish and Cardinals will likely tie for the bottom. When is the last time that happened?
UJust four years after their creation, the Arizona Diamondbacks will play in the World Series. The National League champions won the pennant faster than any expansion team, but to be fair, free-agency barely existed when the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays were created 25 seasons ago.
And it didn't exist when the Kansas City Royals, Washington Senators 2 (now the Texas Rangers), California Angels, Montreal Expos, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers) and San Diego Padres came into existence.
For the record, the Diamondbacks eclipsed the record of the 1997 Florida Marlins by one year.
UWe admit we scoffed when the Diamondbacks hired Fox television analyst Bob Brenly as manager last November. Brenly, who could pass as Cowher's older brother, calmed the veteran Arizona clubhouse and deserves to be National League Manager of the Year.
Of course, if you're going to be a rookie manager, having Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson in your rotation helps.
ULook who's playing in the World Series this year: Former Indians third baseman Matt Williams (Diamondbacks); former Indians left fielder/designated hitter David Justice (Yankees); former Indians and Pirates utility infielder Enrique Wilson (Yankees); former Pirates infielder Tony Womack (Diamondbacks shortstop); former Indians pitchers Brian Anderson, Albie Lopez and Greg Swindell (all Diamondbacks); former Indians and Pirates shortstop Jay Bell (Diamondbacks); former Pirates outfielder Midre Cummings (Diamondbacks); and former Pirates pitching prospect Miguel Batista (Diamondbacks).
UDespite an uncertain economy, the Washington Capitals wasted no time extending Jaromir Jagr's contract by seven years for $77 million. Guaranteed. That's a lot more dollars than most NFL players get with unguaranteed contracts. Score one for Jagr's agent in securing that deal.
UBoston Bruins forward Jason Allison is unhappy because he says the Boston Bruins blamed a lowball contract extension offer on the economy in the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Hey Jason, check out the empty seats in the arenas and stadiums across the country, then ask yourself where the cash for ridiculous contracts will come from if the fans stay away.
Score one for the Bruins.
UThe New York Yankees win the World Series ... oh wait, these are supposed to be surprises.
XTom Williams is a sportswriter for The Vindicator. Write him at williams@vindy.com.