The Optimist

March 15, 2013
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

Good afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. American and all the ships at sea! I’m an Optimist. You’re Cavalier fans. And this here is another half-cocked chapter in the ongoing saga we like to call NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE.

This weekend, the Team Bus is making its way across the Lone Star State.

On Friday, the Cavaliers will take on the once-mighty Mavs, who famously vanquished the Miami Heats in the Finals, but have recently fallen on tough times. On Saturday, the Wine and Gold look for a measure of revenge against the San Antonio Spurs, who stole a pre-All-Star victory from the Cavs at The Q.

Kyrie Irving injured his left shoulder last Saturday, but the squad found themselves in the capable hands of Shaun Livingston on Wednesday. Going 6-for-9 from the floor with a team-high six helpers, the lithe veteran guard topped his old team, which heartlessly released him during the holidays. The Cavaliers took him in out of the cold on Christmas Day, and he’s been clutch ever since.

Without their All-Star guard, the Wine and Gold will be tested this weekend and into next week, with the Pacers and aforementioned Heat rolling into Quicken Loans Arena. I just hope the gym is suitable for hosting pro basketball by then. As you know, the M.A.C. Tournament is going down there this weekend.

From my knowledge of them, Kent State’s students alone are enough to trash all 750,000 square feet of the place. God forbid they get their hands on the flaming scoreboard.

They’ll be going ape-S on Friday night, as their beloved Golden Flashes look to upset Keith Dambrot’s top-seeded Akron Zips. In the late contest, the second-seeded OU Bobcats look to drop Western Michigan so everyone can get the game they want on Saturday night. I’m sorry, but not that many people in Ohio care about Western Michigan, despite its proud list of alumni, including Campy Russell’s brother, Walker, comedian and TV star Tim Allen and Luther Vandross, the black Pavarotti.

Hopefully, the student body will be well-behaved – (but not too well-behaved) – down at the corner of Huron and Ontario this weekend. I LOVE the M.A.C. Tournament and am slightly saddened that I’m not back in Cleveland to enjoy it. But I swore an oath to God, country and Cavaliers – and duty calls in Dallas.

Part of that weekly detail is getting through our weekly housecleaning items, beginning as always with a little Today-in-History.

March 15, as many of you know, is sometimes referred to as the “Ides of March.”

On this date in 44 B.C., Roman emperor Julius Caesar was shanked on his way to a meeting by his buddies, Brutus and Cassius (along with a bunch of other double-crossing senators like that rat, Gaius Trebonius and his buddy Lucius Cassius Longinus as well as greaseballs like Rubrius Ruga and his flunky, Publius Sextius Naso, who nobody trusted anyway.)

Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, had a foreboding premonition about the Ides of March and even his doctor warned him not to go out that day. But he could not be swayed. Twenty-three stab wounds later, the dictator was dead and the decline of the Roman Empire had begun. His close friend, Marc Antony, had also tried to prevent the assassination. But after his pal got jacked, he wound up marrying Caesar’s old squeeze, Cleopatra. So things worked out pretty well in the end for him.

Unlike last week’s turrible Birthdays, this week we’re loaded for bear – dotted with luminaries like Sly Stone, the Iron Sheik, former Indian Bobby Bonds, defrocked televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, Browns legend Clay Matthews, Terence Trent D’Arby, Bret Michaels, Eva Longoria and probably the greatest pound-for-pound competitive eater on the planet – 5-8, 128-lb. Takeru Kobayashi – who once ate 14 Twinkies in one minute, 41 lobster rolls in five minutes, 58 bratwurst sausages in ten minutes, 17.7 pounds of cow brains in 15 minutes, 20 pounds of rice balls in 30 minutes and 337 chicken wings in his Wing Bowl debut, topping his next-closest competitor – “El Wingador” – by over almost 70 wings.

I wasn’t sure which lead to pursue in terms of Current Events.

I’m not big enough to tackle the papal drama in Vatican City, although I was interested in Dennis Rodman’s predictions on the next pontiff.

Rodman followed up his peacekeeping mission to North Korea by traveling to Rom e to promote Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson as the first black pope. But apparently, he hadn’t been debriefed before his arrival in Italy. When reporters asked the Hall of Fame forward about Turkson, he responded: “From Africa, right?”

Rodman’s lack of preparation leaves us in a lurch. I don’t even have an extra-fat animal to write about. Just some 13-year-old Jack Russell in Manhattan named “Jack” who recently swallowed 111 pennies and had to have emergency surgery to remove them.

That’s no way to make the Current Events pages of News …Around … The … League, boy. This column prefers its animals morbidly obese. Get back to us when you’re ready to scarf down 111 bratwurst sausages or 111 pounds of cow brains.

While Jack gets busy building up his stomach capacity, let’s wade into the wide, wide world of sports – shall we?

Getting Defensive – For those of you stricken with Indian Fever, please see if you can hold your mud until next week when I bust off an official N.A.T.L. 2013 Tribe Preview. In the meantime, get some rest and drink plenty of liquids. If your doctor prescribes penicillin, you have a different type of fever.

And for my Cleveland buddy currently living in Perth, Australia –NO, we are not discussing Australian Rules Football League’s 2013 NBA Cup Grand Final. (Carlton fell to the Brisbane Lions, 109-69.)

I admittedly have a soft spot of Australian Rules Football, especially the way referees signal scoring plays. But we just don’t have time for sports on another hemisphere when Cleveland Browns football dominates this hemisphere so thoroughly.

This week, our beloved Brownies wasted no time cracking the free agent market. I wanted them to spend cash like a poet on payday, and they did exactly that – inking outside linebackers Paul Krueger and Quentin Groves and defensive tackle Desmond Bryant.

I’m all for the Browns bolstering the defensive side of the ball and wouldn’t mind if they stuck with that theme in April’s Draft. The way to win in the Browns division is to be like the teams in said division. I want my Browns to be fast and physical and mean.

Krueger and Bryant were prime FA targets for the new regime and they got their men.

I must admit that I was a little concerned when I saw Bryant’s epic mugshot, especially knowing that he went to Harvard. I mean, they taught us to do better mugshots than that at Cleveland State! But by all accounts, Byrant was truly remorseful for what happened that night and vowed to turn in a much better mugshot the next time he’s booked.

Of course, the Browns aren’t done spending yet. And I feel like I’m hoping against hope, but I still believe letting kicker Phil Dawson walk would be a big mistake. He’s a proven cold-weather kicker. And if the Browns plan to start winning, he’ll be the difference in close games. Teams that think they can find just any kicker have failed and learned a hard lesson doing so. I don’t want that to happen to Cleveland.

As long as they’re throwing dough around, I’d prefer for them to throw some of it at Phil Dawson – probably the greatest Browns player since their return in 1999. He’s earned it. He deserves it. And he’ll pay it off in wins.

That’s just one man’s opinion.

And that one man is calling it a column for the weekend.

Enjoy the M.A.C. Tournament on Friday and Saturday nights and have yourself a merry St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday. I realize that St. Pat’s on a Sunday kinda blows. If you call off sick with a tummy-ache on Monday, your boss will definitely bust you on it.

I say go ahead and do it anyway. You’ve earned that sick time, and as a close friend always reminds me: They can’t repossess the good times.


Enjoy the weekend, but remember to call a cab or designate a driver if you plan on washing down your green beer with regular beer. St. Patrick’s Day is also the one day of the year when it’s acceptable to get drunk and take a bus. Normally, I’d consider that inadvisable.

Save something in the tank for our Cavaliers. And no matter what drunken activity your partaking in this weekend, that doesn’t excuse you from remembering to ….

Keep the Faith, Cleveland

Shine On,
The Optimist