Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m an Optimist, penning today’s installment of NEWS … AROUND … THE …LEAGUE from the heart of glorious Maricopa County, Arizona.
This might be my first-ever “Good morning” salutation, and this column might be my first N.A.T.L. from out on the open road. Certainly from west of the Mississippi River. The mighty Mississip. The Ole Miss … The Old Man …
The reason I’m wishing y’uns a good morning is because I’m pretty sure you guys back in Cleveland are two hours into the future. Or is it three hours? Either way, if you’re reading this after tonight’s Cavalier victory over the Suns, it’ll be tomorrow for you, but still tonight for me and the Cavs.
I apologize for the confusion. But we’ve been weaving in and out of time-zones like crew members of the U.S.S. Enterprise – and it’s messing with my head.
I used to love west coast Cavs games when I was a kid. It was an excuse to stay up late to watch your team in a sunny place that seemed a million miles away. And your folks had to give you permission. It’s not your fault America wraps around the globe.
If you stayed up to watch our Kid Cavaliers this week, you saw three thrilling affairs. The Wine and Gold got just one win, but it’s obvious something very special is percolating.
Do they need to work out some defensive kinks and improve their free throw shooting? Yes. But we’re also seeing vast improvements in areas that were weak a season ago.
Kyrie Irving is playing as well as any guard in the East, and his backcourt mate, Dion Waiters, is the second-leading rookie scorer and brings an edge the Cavaliers haven’t had in years. Tristan Thompson is growing into a routine double-double guy at age 21 and Anderson Varejao is just beginning his reign of terror.
This weekend, the Good Guys have a pair of tough challenges.
On Friday, it’s a matchup with Michael Beasley, Marcin Gortat and the Suns. The Cavs topped Phoenix, 101-90, here last January. (Although the Suns avenged that loss at The Q in March.)
On Sunday evening, the Cavaliers face off against the Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder – who they also upset on their home floor one season ago, snapping Kevin Durant and Co.’s 14-game home winning streak.
Cleveland comes into the weekend with the league’s fourth-leading scorer (Irving) and second-leading rebounder (Varejao). I personally don’t see how the Suns or Thunder can possibly beat the Cavaliers. But the NBA is crazy and anything can happen.
Before we get to another pertinent NBA story, we’ve got our housekeeping chores to work through.
Since you guys are reading this in the future, I was hoping you’d be cool if go with November 10th for today’s Today-in-History – because November 9th is filled with the usual unspeakable Nazi cruelty and escalation of the war in Vietnam. I can’t think of a pair of topics that’ll kill a weekend buzz faster than those two.
On November 10th, however, an event took place that was so awesome, it inspired one of the biggest folk-rock songs of all time: the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald in the frigid waters of a big lake they call “Gitche Gumee.”
The “Big Fitz” – at 730 feet in length the largest freighter on the Great Lakes – had a very successful run after its christening in 1958, setting shipping records as the workhorse of seasonal iron ore hauling.
The freighter even had a “DJ captain” – Captain Peter Pulcer – who charmed boat-watchers by piping Gordon Lightfoot songs and other music over the ship’s intercom system as it passed through the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, entertaining spectators at the Soo Lock’s.
But on November 10, 1975 – with Captain Peter cranking out “Jackie Blue” by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils – a massive winter storm fell upon Lake Superior, with hurricane-force winds and waves up to 35 feet. Shortly after 7 p.m., the Fitzgerald suddenly sank in Canadian waters 530 feet deep, about 17 miles from the entrance to Whitefish Bay.
OK, that might not be a great weekend story for Today-in-History. It’s still better than the other two options, but not as much fun as celebrating Birthdays, like those of Hedy Lamarr, rapper Big Pun, former U.S. President Spiro Agnew, recently re-elected Ohio senator Lou Ferigno and the former bodybuilder who played “The Incredible Hulk” – Sherrod Brown. It’s also the birthday of Benny Mardones, who recorded “Into the Night” – perhaps the greatest one-hit wonder since “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot.
That stupid sinking boat is cramping my style, and it’s putting us way behind schedule. So far so that I have no choice but to skip today’s Current Events. And if you think you’re cheese off about that, how do you I think I feel? I was all set to cover one of my favorite topics: a grotesquely obese member of the animal kingdom.
That’s too bad for “Skinny” – the 37-pound stray cat that was found in Dallas.
I’m sure Skinny would love it I wrote about her four-pound weight loss in an attempt to get adopted. According to her veterinarian, Skinny needs to drop around 30 more pounds before she’s eligible to leave the North Texas shelter – where they’ve weaned her off a diet of homeless puppies and have her on a program of specialized food and exercise.
That bloated boat may have overshadowed this bloated cat, but it’s not going to sink the rest of this column. So let’s move on to the wide, wide world of sports – shall we?
Brown Out – Speculation had been spreading that if the superstar-laden Lakers couldn’t turn around their season, it could be curtains for former Cavalier head coach – and all-around great guy – Mike Brown.
And on Friday morning, with the LakeShow sitting at an anemic 1-4, Coach Brown was sacked barely into his second season.
Sure, Coach Brown didn’t know Mo Williams could dunk and admitted on numerous occasions that his head was made of wood. Nobody’s perfect. But he’s a brilliant defensive mind and had great teeth and was working with a disparate collection of superstars that wasn’t even allowed time to gel.
Could he bend a fork using only his sheer will like Zen Master, Phil Jackson? No, he couldn’t. But Mike Brown was a good man who deserved better. Now, the Cavs are gonna have to stoot-slap Kobe Bryant and his buddies twice this year – just on principal alone.
The Sweet Bye and Bye – Since our beloved Brownies are in their bye-week, I thought I’d just fill this space with a sweet picture of Trent Richardson looking like he’s ready to bust some Steeler in the mouth.
We’ll talk Browns v. Cowboys next week.
Barry Oh! – After several grueling months of campaigning, the American people spoke on Tuesday – and rather convincingly re-elected Barack Obama as King of America.
The campaign didn’t get as ugly as it has in the past, and now that Barry O’s been re-elected, everyone’s pretty much ready to move on with their lives – except in Mississippi.
If it wasn’t somewhat of a cautionary tale, I probably wouldn’t tell you readers which candidate I voted for on Tuesday. But several of my politically-savvy friends warned me that voting for Peace and Freedom Party Candidate Roseanne Barr was just throwing my vote away, and now I’m starting to think they were right. The networks didn’t even show her concession speech.
As of this writing, Florida is still undecided. We’ll get back to them in 2016.
While we wait, Barry O is running the show and hopefully we can put aside the bi-partisan squabbling or at least used our differences to cauterize the divide that’s only grown over the past few years.
If only the country could get along as well as we Cavalier fans do, America would be a truly utopian society.
It’s still pretty good. And we’re working our way back East across this great land through the weekend and on Tuesday in Brooklyn.
In the meantime, enjoy your weekend in the future, Cleveland. I don’t want to spoil my return on Wednesday, but at least give me a hint: Have we solved the Sam Shepherd Case or has the Tribe signed any free agents?
Maybe I’ll just wait until we return to find out.
While we’re away, please feel free to complete your weekly checklist: 1. Call a cab or find a designated driver if you’re looped. 2. Always keep your mouth shut and never rat on your friends. 3. Don’t make the first or third out at third base. And, most importantly, 4 …
Keep the faith, Cleveland