The Optimist

October 26, 2012

Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! Me, I’m an Optimist. By the looks of you people, you’re Cleveland Cavalier fans. Let’s convene for another rock’em-sock’em installment of a little number entitled NEWS … AROUND …THE … LEAGUE -- shall we?

So … how do you nerds plan to spend your last weekend off? I’ve got plenty of suggestions, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

This Tuesday evening, our beloved Cavaliers officially put an end to this preseason bullbarsh and tip-off the regular season for real when they welcome Washington Wizards to The Q.

Tyler ZellerThe Wine and Gold closed out their preseason with a bit of a thud this past week – dropping a 100-82 decision to the Eastern Conference light-heavyweight Indiana Pacemakers. On the positive side, rookie Tyler Zeller got his first start and was rock-solid, finishing with 13 points, 7 boards and pair of assists. On the negative side, the Cavaliers lost by 18 points.

But preseason wins and losses will be a distant memory, come Tuesday night. By the time the popcorn starts popping and Randy Wittman’s Wizards roll in on Tuesday, we’re well past the point of no return.

So my recommendation to you is get your money’s worth this weekend. And if you want, you can get your pipes loosened up for the Cavs Opener right here at Quicken Loans Arena.

On Friday night, our 4-2 Lake Erie Monsters put on the foil for the first of back-to-back meetings against the filthy Abbotsford Heat in a big Western Conference twin-bill. (In fact, as I write this very column, I’m sitting here watching the visitors taint our home ice during morning skate-around.)

The Heat come to the North Coast without a loss, but they’re aboot to take a pair back to Abbotsford – wherever the cuss that is.

On Sunday night, the legendary Canadian rock supergroup, Rush, comes to The Q. They jam – I know they jam! And you better believe I’ll be on-hand, checking out the iconic triumvirate of Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart and Geddy Lee – who I haven’t seen live since a buddy and I snuck through a side-door during an usher’s smoke-break at the Richfield Coliseum.

And for you cynical fans out there thinking I’m just shilling tickets for the upper-level muckety-mucks – you’re dead wrong! All I get is maybe a congratulatory crack on the buttocks when Dan Gilbert is around the offices. Other than that, I promote events at The Q because events at The Q are pretty sweet.

I’d love to just pull this column over and let you listen to a rad Neil Peart drum solo, but we’re already way behind schedule.

BootsySo let’s briefly celebrate the birth of my fellow Librans, such as the Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson, the King of Wheel of Fortune, Pat Sajak, “Family Guy” creator Seth McFarlane, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, palindromic former Tribe third baseman Toby Harrah and P-Funk bassist Bootsy Collins – who wrote this totally awesome Cavaliers song for the 2008-09 playoffs.

Dead on this day and still dead is my one-time contemporary and competitor, Paul the World Cup-predicting Octopus.

As for Today-in-History, we’ve got a good one that doesn’t involve any saints but does involve dudes shooting one another!

Yes, on this day – October 26 – way back in 1881, residents of Tombstone, Arizona witnessed the fabled Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – the most famous gunfight in a country that definitely loves its gunfights.

Back on this day, at approximately 3 p.m., the renegade Cowboys – led by Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers, Tom and Frank – took on lawmen Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, along with their pal, Doc Holliday. (Back then, the term “Cowboys” was synonymous with outlaw. Cowboys, as they’re known now, were called “ranchers.”)

The fierce gun battle, which began with both groups just six feet apart after Doc Holiday said something about being somebody’s huckleberry, lasted only about 30 seconds. Accounts of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral varied, and there have been dozens of fictional portrayals since.

TombstoneWhat we do know is that Wyatt Earp is the only cat to come out of the bloody firefight unscathed. And we know that he and his crew busted several caps in the Cowboys’ arse, killing Clanton and both McLaury boys.

Two months after shutting out the Cowboys, 3-0, Virgil Earp was maimed in an assassination attempt by the surviving outlaws and three months after that, they successfully assassinated Morgan Earp. This, naturally, led to the infamous Earp Vendetta Ride of 1882 – and you can imagine what kind of party that was.

I wish I got to go on a Vendetta Ride. But I’ve still got Current Events to report. I’ll be brief.

I fear sharks above all else. They’re the most horrifying creatures the good Lord ever created. And this week, proving my theory that they are, in fact, the constant threat I believe they are – a two-pound leopard shark fell from the sky onto a golf course in San Juan Capistrano, California.

Marine Biologists believe a predatory bird dropped the shark on the links. I don’t know if I would have run screaming like a little girl or bashed its evil brains out with my 3-wood.

sharkBut one of the course’s marshals did something else. When he found the small shark, he raced it back to the clubhouse and threw it in a bucket of saltwater. He then drove it back to the sea, where it swam off and will one day kill him while he’s swimming with his grandkids.

That’s just another great reason to love the Cavaliers Youth Fund Golf Classic. Yes, you have to watch Zydrunas Ilgauskas swing a golf club. But at least you don’t have sharks falling out the sky!

The sooner we get off the terrifying topics of sharks and Z’s golf swing, the better. Let’s make this N.A.T.L. all OK and talk some sports …

Holy Moley! – I know I said that I would never cover high school sports, based on the premise that I’m not into rooting for athletes that still live with their parents. But this weekend, I have to mention what people around these parts call “The Holy War” – the annual battle between perennial powerhouses, St. Ed’s and St. Ignatius.

Holy WarI have several buddies that attended both high schools and this year, I have a buddy with a kid on one of the squads. (Aaron Buynak – TE, Ignatius) My pal, Dave, can barely sit still or hold a thought in his head – and he’s still has to think about hosting his pregame Oktoberfest-themed tailgate!

The Holy War will be held at Byars Field in Parma, the site of many of my own high school football exploits as a two-way star for the Garbage Heights Bulldogs, including several of the losses in our glorious 0-9-1 senior season.

It’s just one of the many Cavaliers pre-season festivities I’ll be taking part in during our last weekend off. Stop by. We’ll save you a brew and potato pancake.

Flash!! Ahhhhh-Ahhhh! – I’m not sure I’ve ever referred to a Browns game as a “festivity.” And that’s pretty spot-on.

This Sunday’s battle against the Chargers is another pre-season activity I’ll be attending this weekend, including our own tailgate-themed tailgate. And I’m expecting a battle royale!

The Chargers are coming to Cleveland cheesed off after getting they pants pulled down by Payton Manning on Monday night. And the Browns are simply a desperate, wounded young team that’s got nothing to lose.

(Plus, it’s game at the Stadium on the Sunday before Halloween and the weather’s supposed to suck.)

GordonThis week, Mike Holmgren continued the Browns’ off-field transition. On the field, the big question is whether Trent Richardson is healthy enough to play and how good he’ll be if he does.

What I’m seeing is the Josh “Flash” Gordon Redemption – with the rookie making ameds for last week’s drop and hitting endzone paydirt not once, not twice but … thrice!

Browns upset the Chargers in a Sunday thriller at the Stadium, 30-28. Game balls go to Josh Gordon, Phil Dawson and Buster Skrine.

Say Uncle – I knew this day was coming. But now there’s an actual timetable.

Uncle Dave announced this week that he will be stepping down in February 1, 2014 – exactly 30 years after he took the mantle.

As you readers know, I love Uncle Dave as much as I hate sharks. I worked under his careful tutelage at NBA Headquarters in New York and New Jersey after he found my basket floating in the reeds near Secaucus. I waxed his cars. I painted his fences. He caught flies with chopsticks.

Uncle Dave has been the steadiest and successful current commissioner of the four major sports and will go down as an all-time great when he wraps up his three-decade tenure in 2014.

He helped make the NBA a global game. He never disciplined players arbitrarily and he salvaged seasons that looked to be ruined by labor strife. Uncle Dave wasn’t without his critics, but those same critics might be careful what they wish for once Adam Silver’s reign of terror takes over.

What am I saying? Adam Silver’s going to be fine. Maybe even better than Uncle Dave!

Stern 2But I don’t see Adam Silver having the swagger and panache of Uncle Dave. Can he walk through the streets of Manhattan’s Upper East Side with a showgirl on each arm like Uncle Dave? (pictured, left)

I don’t know. But we’ll all find out in the second half of the 2014 season.

Mazel tov on a great run, Uncle Dave! We’ll have plenty of time to catch up before you leave.


I can’t think of a better segue than that to call this a column.

Alright guys. This is your last weekend off until after the Playoffs. So I recommend you leave it all on the floor. You can use Monday as a recovery day. Tell your boss I said it’s cool. And come Tuesday, I expect each and every one of you to be geared up to gird up.

By the time we reconvene, the 2012-13 season will be well on its way and I’ll be boarding the Team Bus for Mil-ee-wah-que and points West. I’ll meet you back here.

In the meantime, don’t take any wooden nickels, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, call a cab if you’re pie-eyed and, above all, please remember to …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

All the best,
The Optimist