The Optimist

November 16, 2012

Anderson VarejaoGood evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m an Optimist – welcoming you faithful Cavalier fans to that sexy sports machine we like to call NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE.

It sure is nice to be back in sunny Cleveland, Ohio. I’ve missed you Junior Optimists terribly. And my, how you’ve grown!

Our beloved Cavaliers are recharging their batteries after their fourth straight loss – a 114-101 tattooing on Tuesday in Brooklyn.

The Wine and Gold squandered jaw-dropping performances by Anderson Varejao (35 points, 18 boards) and Kyrie Irving (34 points, eight assists) to fall to 2-6 on the young season.

In the Cavs’ defense, the last two stops of a difficult roadie were against an NBA heavyweight and light-heavyweight, respectively. And neither arena is an easy place to play for a young team – although OKC and Brooklyn, as you might imagine, are two completely different experiences.

In OKC, fans yell for Andy to “get a haircut.” In Brooklyn, they cheered when Reggie Evans decked him. (Although neither Net nor conventional weapons could’ve stopped the Wild Thing that night.)

Jay ZAt the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, they love to say the word “Brooklyn,” and even though the Brooklyn Nets’ majority owner is elongated Russian, Mikhail Dmitrievitch Prokhorov, all they play is the music of Brooklyn native, Jay-Z. There’s nary a Russian folksong to be heard at Brooklyn’s palatial new gym. And you can’t tell me that “Polyushko Poyle” (O, Field, My Field!) wouldn’t be a damn cool song to introduce Brooklyn’s pro basketball team to.

Yes, the Kid Cavaliers had a road trip that Coach Byron Scott labeled “terrible.” But at least we made it back to our loved ones in one piece. And that credit, as always, goes to the Team Bus’ long-time driver and big toe – Big Mo.

Big Mo has been commandeering the Team Bus since as long as I can remember. And whether it was clearing space in the luggage compartment under the bus for Martynas Andriuskevicius to sleep away a trip through the Rockies or taking a detour so Joe Tait could stock up at the “Big Bear House of Jerky” in Big Bear, California – he’s always been there for the Cavaliers.

Big MoAnd at least once a season, I like to give Big Mo what the kids call “a shout-out” for delivering the goods through this great land of ours – including the perilous upward-backward ramp in Boston.

You might wonder why the Cavaliers don’t fly around the country on a plane – like I suppose most NBA teams do. But just look at Big Mo (pictured, right). I love him like a brother; he’s one of my favorite dudes in the world. But do you think Dan Gilbert would trust him to fly an airplane?! Please.

On Wednesday morning, Big Mo pulled us safely into The Q’s underground garage, where the maintenance guys who hose down the elephants during Circus week do the same to the Team Bus’ interior. And it’ll be sparkling when the Cavaliers mount it after Saturday’s victory over the Mavericks.

A win over the Dirk-less Mavs – who the Cavaliers have dropped in three of their last four trips to The Q – would get everything back on track for Byron Scott’s tenderfoots, who travel to Philadelphia for a Sunday evening affair.

Before they do, I’ll bet – to a man – that they’re curious about who’s celebrating a Birthday, what happened Today-in-History and what’s going on in today’s Current Events.

Good thing they’ve got me.

OksanaThey’d be happy to know – just in case they wanted to get a card or gift – that it’s the birthday of injured Cleveland Brown Chris Gocong, uninjured New York Knick Amar’e Stoudemire, brilliant “Simpsons” writer John Swartzwelder, foxy Ukranian figure skater Oksana Baiul, and the guy whose name my uncle calls former Cavalier, Drew Gooden – Dwight Gooden.

I don’t want to upset the team before a back-to-back by telling them that Today-in-History is filled with Nazi evil-doing and bloody Napoleonic War atrocities. We’ll stick to the wonderful world of Science, where – on this date in 1938 – chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland. Hours later, he discovered that his hands were, like, twice the size of his entire body and when he looked deeply through the lens of his microscope he could totally see through time.

I’m sure Coach Scott – or at least assistant Joe Prunty – also has the boys following the world’s Current Events. I hope they saw this one – as today’s update could serve as a cautionary tale that may one day save their lives.

The story comes from the home of angry turkeys – Farmington, Connecticut – where law-abiding citizen Marcos Carreras’ car was attacked for the second time this month by an angry wild turkey he calls “Frankenturkey” – with the furious fowl running up to the driver’s side window and actually pecking on the door.

Now, I know you readers are probably laughing to yourselves, thinking: ‘What’s that guy so afraid of? It’s just some stupid, slow turkey.’

Well let me tell you readers: I’ve witnessed an angry wild turkey up-close-and-personal – and it was right in the parking of the Cavaliers practice facility, the Cleveland Clinic Courts!

WagnerActually, I was lucky enough to avoid the turkey’s wrath. WOIO/Channel 19 cameraman, Dan Wagner, was not so lucky.

Wagner, the News-Herald’s Bob Finnan and I were minding our business, having a nice conversation when the angry beast darted from the woods.

Finnan and I immediately scrambled and ran for cover. Dan Wagner, already in his news van, rolled up the window and took off. But the turkey chased after the van, with Dan driving away screaming like a little girl!

I witnessed the attack, first-hand. And I have to admit, I don’t blame Dan for speeding away like a cowardly, gutless pantywaist.

Don’t be such sore losers, turkeys!! It’s not our fault you’re so delicious or that we have guns and you don’t. Dan and Bob and I will have the last laugh this Thursday, anyway. We’ll be taking naps at halftime of the Cowboys game with you in our fat bellies.

Speaking of the Cowboys, we’ve got plenty of sports to discuss. So let’s tarry no longer and talk some real turkey – taking our weekly trip through News … Around … The … League

How Bout Them Cowboys – It’s been so long since the Cowboys were “America’s Team,” I’m not even sure they’re “America’s Team” anymore.

Jerry JonesAnd I don’t think our Brownies will be intimidated by them when they roll into “JerryWorld” or “Palace in Dallas” – or whatever the cuss it’s called – for a Sunday afternoon inter-conference tilt.

Like our Cavaliers, the Browns – who are coming off their bye-week – should be equal parts rested and full of P and V.

I can remember some classic Browns-Cowboys contests in my day, like the matchup in 1994 that ended with Eric Turner stuffing Jay Novacek on the goaline to preserve the 19-14 win over the reigning Super Bowl Champs. Or my personal favorite: a Monday night in 1979, when Brian Sipe and the 3-0 Kardiac Kids trounced Dallas at old Browns Stadium, 26-7. Cowboys’ wideout Drew Pearson was so disgusted with the loss, he barfed on national TV.

I don’t see any of today’s Cowboys barfing on national TV, but I do see the Browns handing Dallas another stomach-churning loss.

Josh CribbsJosh Cribbs combines for 277 combined yards, Brandon Weeden completes all but six pass attempts and Trent Richardson breaks the century mark once again. But it’s the defense that saves the day, picking off Tony Romo on Dallas’ final possession, preserving the 21-20 victory behind Phil Dawson’s seven field goals.

Thanksgiving Memories – Alright, this isn’t a straight sports story. But it does involve the Cavaliers and their all-knowing, all-powerful owner, Dan Gilbert. That should settle you down.

Since Thanksgiving is this coming Thursday, I thought I’d tell you a nice Cavaliers holiday story.

It was back in 2009 and the squad was just coming off a 98-88 win over the Pistons on the night before Thanksgiving. Our next game was in Charlotte and NBA rules stipulate that a team must be in the visiting city on the night before the game. That meant that we wouldn’t be able to stop home between games to have Thanksgiving with our families.

Dan GilbertSo what did our owner, Dan Gilbert do? He opened the doors of his house to the entire team and traveling caravan, taking us all in like wayward little orphans – me, Jamario Moon, Big Mo, Gloria James. Everyone.

Dan’s house is obviously magnificent. But it wasn’t like you might expect. It’s not a big, scary mansion with a monstrously long table and suits of armor everywhere. It was filled with cool artwork mixed in with a few Fatheads™. Little kids ran around, like any holiday get-together. It was so comfortable that my beloved boss, Tad Carper, kicked up his dogs after dinner and crashed out on the couch during the Cowboys-Raiders game. (The man’s got no shame in his game.)

It was a sweet feast and everyone was truly thankful – from billionaires like Dan to millionaires like Shaq to guys who clear just a few hundred grand a year, like me – that we didn’t have to spend that Thanksgiving eating vending machine snacks in our Team Motel room.

I thanked Dan then and I’m thanking him again now. I’m thankful for all he’s done, for me and the city. I’m thankful he believes in us both. And I’m even thankful to have this valuable internet space to kiss his butt.

ThanksgivingAs for you butterballs out there, gird those loins for a big weekend of Cavaliers action. We need to get this thing back in the right direction. And that starts this Saturday night against the Dallas Mavericks. The Wine and Gold can use the home cooking, and it’ll be nice to get Tyler Zeller back.

If I don’t see you on Saturday or Tuesday at The Q – Happy Thanksgiving, friendos!

We’ll reconvene on our nation’s traditional day of terror – Black Friday. In the meantime, please remember: Don’t mess with turkeys until after they’ve been killed.

And also to …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

One love,
The Optimist