The Optimist

November 2, 2012

Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m the Optimist. This is NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE. Let’s talk some sports …

On Tuesday night, our beloved Cavaliers pulled away from the Wizards for a double-digit win in the home opener. There was no shortage of heroes – including Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Boobie Gibson, Kyrie Irving and the initial subject of today’s chalk-talk: Anderson Varejao.

The Chicago Bulls come to town on Friday night before the Cavs depart on a six-game, three-time-zone roadie. The Bulls most skilled player – when healthy – is former MVP, Derrick Rose. But the team’s heart and soul is Joakim Noah.

I wrote many years ago about Noah being Andy’s doppelganger, but I certainly wasn’t the first. The two have been linked since Noah entered the league – with their reckless, passionate playing styles and recognizable manes.

Joakim NoahBut in my opinion, that’s where the comparison ends. Noah is brash and nasty and during the 2009 Playoffs, he came to Cleveland and called us names. He barks at officials and opponents. Even his free throw shooting motion is angry.

Andy, by contrast, is everyone’s buddy. Everybody loves Andy and Andy loves everybody back – doling out man-hugs with the same frequency he rebounds a basketball. Andy’s a guy our marketing team can ask to pose in a Snuggie™. He’s the Cavs’ Big Brazilian -- personally groomed in social graces by the Large Lithuanian.

You can almost gauge their personalities by the differences in their famous hair. Andy’s curls are floppy and fun. Who among us doesn’t love to slap on a nice Anderson Varejao wig?! By contrast, Joakim Noah’s got hair busting out all over his head – all mean and menacing, like some snarling loup-garou.

Anderson VarejaoLove them or hate them, every NBA coach would love to have either Andy or Noah on their squad. They’re unique talents, and Friday’s matchup promises to be a low-post donnybrook of epic proportions.

Following the victory, the Wine and Gold board the Team Bus – commanded, as always, by long-time driver, Big Mo – bound for Mil-ee-wah-que (which, of course, is Algonquin for “the good land”) and points west. We’ll get to the trip before we wash up and punch out. First, we’ve got our housekeeping to take care of.

November 2nd has some slim pickins in the way of Birthdays. There’s k.d. lang, Maxine Nightingale, Nelly and Daniel Boone, who wore a coonskin cap, among other things.

And in terms of Today-in-History, that’s almost a wash too. Luckily, some sun-baked crackpots from Texas bailed us out, recording possibly the greatest UFO sighting in our nation’s long, proud history of UFO sightings: The Levelland UFO Case of 1957 in which at least 15 people – including the town’s sheriff – saw, in separate instances that night, a glowing blue orb that landed in the road in front of them and killed power in their vehicles.

(Apparently, none of the witnesses were abducted and probed. Even extraterrestrials know not to pull that crap in Texas.)

An Air Force research group called Project Blue Book was created to investigate the events and after speaking with several eyewitnesses and collecting reams of data found that there was “nothing to see here.”

I wonder what Project Blue Book would make of the subject of today’s Current Events segment: Beaky, the foul-mouthed British parrot.

I know there are plenty of Current Events going down right here in America, like the Presidential Election and Frankenstorm. But this story is about a bird that says “#%&@!!”

Parrot1Beaky the cursing parrot – or as they call it in England: “lory” – is currently looking for a home. The problem is that the bird is prone to calling its owner a “flaming #%@&*#&”and isn’t shy about telling its owner to “&#%&@” its “&%#” or to “#%@&” its “#%&@!”

And worst of all, Beaky’s got no problem breaking out the ONE word that’ll either get you slapped by your woman or punched in the throat by a dude –even in an English accent: “#&%%.

Also – he bites!!

Parrot2Beaky is seeking a good home along with another parrot – a beautiful, well-mannered crimson rosella named Captain Scarlet who, according to the Animal Care Centre’s spokeswoman, “loves to whistle.”

Tonight, when you’re taking in some fabulous Cavaliers action, take a moment to think of Beaky and his doppelganger, Captain Scarlet, in terms of their Cleveland-Chicago hoops counterparts. One is an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, surly old cuss. And the other one is Anderson Varejao.

OK, meatheads. Let us tarry no longer. We’ve talked some sports. Let’s talk a little more in this weekend’s edition of News … Around … The … League

Dirty Birds – Speaking of ill-tempered birds, on Sunday afternoon, the mangy Baltimore Ravens come to Cleveland.

I’m not alone in thinking that the Browns are beginning to see the light. There’s a confidence brewing on both sides of the ball. With Joe Haden back, the defense is looking lean and mean and it gets Phil Taylor from Baylor back this week. Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden are starting to hit their stride on O.

That quartet is the Browns’ core – the team’s best players. And all four were on-hand for Tuesday night’s Cavaliers-Wizards home opener. That makes me happy.

Jimmy HaslamThe Brownies are supporting us; I’m going to support them.

The Ravens aren’t so tough without Ray Lewis. His absence changes their whole identity. And Terrell Suggs looks like he’s been training with little chocolate donuts.

Weather won’t be a factor this Sunday and T-Rich will have his way with Baltimore’s D – rumbling for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jabaal Sheard gets a pair of sacks, Buster Skrine gets a pick-6 and the Browns get their third win in four games – a convincing 27-17 victory that has Jimmy Haslam chest-bumping with his boys in the owner’s suite.

Rock the Vote! – Do the kids still say that? Probably not.

Barack ObamaI have great friends (although, tellingly, no relatives) who proudly vote for each political party. And in my heart of hearts I think both Democrats and Republican parties have good and bad within them – but both want the best for ‘Merica.

Let’s be honest: Politics is a form of sports. Otherwise dudes just wouldn’t be that interested in it. And the stakes don’t get any higher than in Tuesday’s battle royale between the reigning champ, Barry O, and his right-wing contender, Mitt Romney.

It’s been a relatively clean campaign – no dirty tricks or name-calling or October surprises. And according to most polls, it’s a dead-heat heading into Election Day.

Mitt RomneyI don’t care which way you vote on Tuesday, but I do care that you do vote. It’s your privilege as a red-blooded American – plus it just makes you feel good. And it makes the cute little septuagenarians at the voting station feel good, too.

A Letter!! – I’m just going to come out and say it. We’ve had massive layoffs in the Optimist Mailroom.

I guess it’s my fault. I haven’t given you readers a good place to write me. I’ve asked before. But you guys were too busy Tweeting @cavs_dan about a possible cup-holder malfunction.

So, to show you how it’s done, one day I got this rogue letter.

It’s obviously in reference to last week’s column where I wrote about a heart-wrenching Christmas story in which I asked my folks for a toy machine gun/w tripod and instead received a book about Catholic Saints. (Today, by the way, is the feast day of both St Quadragesimus, who rose a guy from the dead and St. St. Demetrius of Thessalonica, who was run through with spears in around 306 AD.)

bricDear Optimist,

My grandmother -- who never missed daily mass, even on the day she broke her hip in the parking lot and had to crawl in to the church then crawl up the aisle to get communion -- gave my brother a junior Priest outfit, complete with Monsignor cap with fuzzy ball on top. It was the greatest Christmas gift ever. I was happy for my brother, and my mother urged me to see what was in my box. She thought I might have received a priest outfit in a bigger size. However, my grandmother had given each of us what we most desired as a gift. Bobby had received the priest outfit, and as I opened my gift I discovered a shining, silvery plastic pair of cowboy hand guns.

No, I didn't grow up to be a cowboy and Bob didn't become a priest either, but it was a memorable holiday.

Thanks for the greatest writing on sports since Jim Murray was writing in my childhood.

Dublin, OH


Bric, thank you SO MUCH for reading and writing in. You’re almost certainly more incoherent and disoriented than me. And there’s nothing I respect more than that.

I have to be honest, Bric. I’ve always thought the priest’s uniform was pretty cool. Not as cool as handguns, obviously.

That’s how it’s done, people. Drop me a line by CLICKING HERE. Like both Barry O and Mittens, I’d like to put America back to work.

And with that patriotic segue, I’m going to get in Victory Formation™ and call this a column.

You guys are free to go. By the time you knuckaheads and I talk again, the Cavaliers will have likely topped the Bulls, Bucks, Clippers and Warriors in succession. But maybe not. I suppose anything can happen in the NBA.

GhoulI might check in before next Friday’s N.A.T.L.. Like I said: anything can happen in the NBA. But I know that once I get on that Bus, it’s pretty much a crap-shoot until I get home after the Brooklyn win.

If I were in Cleveland, I’d definitely hit up the Big Chuck & Lil’ John Ghoulardifest at the UAW Hall on Chevrolet Boulevard. But I can’t. I’ll be on the open road with 15 Cavaliers – good and true – on our first extended roadie of the young season.

I hope you guys can catch it all. There will be some late-night affairs so you might have to catch a mid-morning nap at your desk or lathe. Your boss will totally understand. It’s the Cavaliers! And it’s time to …

Keep the Faith, Dublin

Su hermano,
The Optimist