Browns game will have festive mood

Coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that the Steelers are preparing for both Browns quarterbacks, Brian Hoyer and Manziel, for the season opener.

The theory makes sense. The Browns are probably designing some plays specifically for Manziel’s skill set. After a bland preseason, teams always like to unveil some new wrinkles for the regular season.

As Tomlin said, Cleveland didn’t draft him on the first round to keep him on the sideline.

If Manziel gets in the game, it should make for a festive atmosphere. Manziel isn’t the best quarterback to come out of college in recent years, but he might be the best known. He has a knack for calling attention to himself, and Steelers fans will undoubtedly respond if he comes into the game.

While the Manziel angle may be fun, the real personnel concern is on the Steelers’ side. The defense is new, and it remains to be seen if it’s improved.

The preseason was rocky but that’s just the preseason. Now the games count.

If the Steelers are going anywhere this season, they need to be much better on defense than they were last year.

That starts Sunday against the Browns, no matter who Cleveland has at quarterback.

Added help

The September call-ups have been made, and that again renews the debate about expanding the baseball rosters in September.

As of Sept. 1, teams can have as many as 40 players on the active roster. That obviously changes the way games are managed.

There are extra pinch hitters available, there are pinch running specialists, and the bullpen has another three or four options.

The roster expansion won’t be going away. The Players Association loves it because the players who are added get major league service time and major league pay. A player who spends the entire month in the major leagues will get about $81,000. That’s a nice bonus for someone who’s spent the season in the minors.

There has been sentiment for going to a hockey-like system where teams are still limited in designating players who are eligible for each game. Certain players would be scratched each day.

But would that really make much of a difference? Teams would start by scratching the four starting pitchers who weren’t going to work anyway. That would immediately open up some spots. Beyond that, they could scratch a reliever who’s been working frequently and wouldn’t pitch in that night’s game.

It would limit the roster expansion a little bit, but not enough to have an impact.

Out of control

Speaking of Cleveland, the high school football season opened last Friday with an eventful game.

Collinwood played Garfield Heights, and the game included a late hit on a player. That prompted a fight on the field that caused the benches to empty. Then people started coming out of the stands, and a near riot was underway.

When things had settled down, five people were arrested and three others were on their way to the hospital.

All from a high school football game.

Mehno can be reached at