The Optimist

November 30, 2012
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m the Optimist; you are Cavalier fans. Relax, get comfortable, kick up your dogs and settle in for a carb-loaded installment of NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE.

Before we get too far, please wipe that sour look off your faces, or we’ll stop this column right now, turn this thing around and go home.

You don’t have to tell me that the Wine and Gold have dropped four straight and 10 of 11.

I’ve lived it!

Kevin JonesBut I’m wired only one way – and I’d always rather light a candle than curse the darkness. Good things are coming for our Kid Cavaliers. Kevin Jones’ call-up is the start of it. And when it starts to percolate for Byron Scott’s squad this season, you’ll remember where you were when you read this column. (I hope it’s not while you’re parked on the loo, although each installment is written for that exact time span.)

I know where I was when I was writing it. It was here in the ATL, where our Wine and Golders look to right the ship against the new-look Hawks – engineered by our old friend, and Atlanta’s new GM, Dan Ferry.

Despite having one of the most illustrious college careers in the history of hoops, despite playing with two very successful teams under Hall of Fame coaches, reaching the Finals as a player and General Manager and, above all, being a terrific family man, there is really one thing that Ferry cherishes above all else.

And that was his spot as the 4th-ranked three-point shooter in Cavaliers franchise history. A mark Daniel Gibson eclipsed this past week in Memphis.

FerryIt probably eats Danny up inside that Boobie – the fresh-faced 20-year-old he drafted – is now ahead of him in the Cavaliers record books. And it might even cross Ferry’s mind, with Kyrie there watching, to activate himself, just to splash down a couple treys and show how Dukies get buckets. But I don’t see it happening tonight. Records are made to be broken. Danny’s a class act. He knows that.

More than anything, he’d like his Hawks to get their 10th win of the season against his former club. And the Wine and Gold are looking to get back into the win column.

After they do, the Cavaliers return to The Q for a (probable) Saturday night victory over impressive rookie Damien Lillard, former Cavalier J.J. Hickson and the Portland TrailBlazers, who’ll be on the fifth game of an East Coast swing.

As a Man of Letters, if J.J. were still around, he’d understand that before we return to the banal world of sports, there are some historical and cultural milestones to celebrate – this being November 30th and all.

Being vastly interested in extraterrestrial mineralogy, J.J. would be glad to know that on this date, in 1954, a 31-year-old Sylacauga, Alabama woman by the name of Ann Elizabeth Hodges was taking herself a nice afternoon siesta when a grapefruit-sized meteorite done crashed through the roof, bounced off a large wooden console radio and struck her in the side.

Hodges was bruised, but walked away from the incident under her own power.

It was the first recorded instance of an object from space injuring a person in the States.

ChiuauaA kid from Uganda was struck and uninjured and supposably, a meteorite killed a Milanese friar in Tortona, Italy in 1677. But that was probably just God. Usually, by the time a meteor travels through the atmosphere and reaches Earth, it’s no bigger than a Chihuahua's head

Between the Hodges, the Hodges’ landlord (Bertie Guy), and the U.S. Air Force, there was a lengthy battle for possession of the meteorite. It finally wound up in the rightful hands of the Alabama Museum of Natural History, where they use it to drive nails in the loose molding by the gift shop.

In recent weeks, we’ve had some substandard Birthdays. But today, we’re absolutely loaded with luminaries, including (*deep breath*) Mark Twain, Billy Idol, Bo Jackson, Dick Clark, G. Gordon Liddy, Bill Walsh, Ridley Scott, Terrence Malick, David Mamet, Pudge Rodriguez, Robert Guillaume, Abbie Hoffman, Elisha Cuthbert, Sir Winston Churchill and Richard Crenna, who once said: “You’re gonna need one thing: A good supply of bodybags.”

And almost as impressive as the people born on this great day – November 30 – are those who died because of it: like Evil Knievel and Tiny Tim.

Evil KnievelEvil Knievel is man who broke every bone in his body on national television. A man who jumped both the Grand Canyon and the Snake River Canyon. A man who – with both arms still in casts – flew to California and beat the snot out of his former promoter with an aluminum baseball bat.

But on this day in 2007, the man do did all that, succumbed to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and the long-term effects of breaking every bone in his body on national television.

Tiny Tim, the goofy and somewhat frightening one-hit wonder from the ‘70s also bought the farm on this day, but he did so in a surprisingly heroic way.

Tiny Tim, who actually worked with Camper Van Beethoven and released several albums in the ‘90s, had a heart attack before performing at a ukulele festival in Montague, Massachusetts. He was hospitalized for three weeks, discharged and warned strongly not to perform again due to health reasons. But Tiny Tim ignored the advice and – on this date in 1996 – performed a benefit for The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis, had a another heart attack and died.

Tiny TimSome of you sickos might snicker at the idea of Tiny Tim buying it like that. But remember: Jim Morrison died in the bathtub, Elvis died on the toilet and Mama Cass choked on a ham sandwich. T.T. went down with his ukulele on.

I was going to do Current Events, but all I had was a story of some little miniature horse ringing the Salvation Army bell in Wisconsin.

You guys know I love little tiny (or extra huge or angry) animals, but there’s not a horse itty-bitty enough to overshadow the images of Tiny Tim’s heroic demise or the thought of Evil Knievel in two casts beating a guy with an aluminum baseball bat.

So let’s proceed directly to the wide, wide, world of sports, and see if there’s any News … Around … The … League ….

Stick This in Your Black Hole – Let’s be honest with each other. With Ohio State, undefeated and in the clubhouse for the season and college hoops still less than captivating, we locals are interested in two things this weekend: Cavaliers basketball and Browns football.

Sure, the SEC Championship will decide Notre Dame’s foe in the National Championship and Kent State vies for the MAC title against Northern Illinois. I love Kent State and I've spent many, many memorable nights down there.

But from my angle this sports weekend is about Cavaliers basketball on Friday and Saturday night – and Browns on Sunday.

BrownsAfter starting the 2012 season 0-5, the Brownies gave gone 3-3 over their next six. And they’ve been in every game this year. Their growth is not that different from our young Cavaliers squad.

On Sunday, they travel to the once-feared “Black Hole” to take on the Raiders. But these Raiders are more bark than they are bite. They still have the scary uniforms and theme song and fans, but their team stinks and their coach looks like a grad assistant. These aren’t the intimidating old Raiders of Jack Tatum and George Atkinson and Otis Sistrunk.

The Browns do well in Oakland. Even Charlie Frye dumped the Raiders out in California. And by my estimation, Brandon Weeden is way better at football than Charlie Frye. It’s no secret that Trent Richardson is finding his stride, but I see Montario Hardesty having a surprisingly good game.

Unlike their usual M.O., I see the Browns trailing early and mounting themselves a comeback. Greg Little snags a touchdown and Hardesty runs for one. The final nail in Oakland’s coffin comes when my man, Buster Skrine, picks Carson Palmer and goes the distance – icing the 33-24 thriller.

After the Cavaliers take the first two contests of the weekend, the surging Brownies hand the homeland a sweet trifecta.

A Letter – OK. A couple weeks ago, I asked you guys for some letters. Know what I got?

This …

BuieHey Optimist,

If you guys would like, I could start streaming the games from Hong Kong for you. I get them 11 hours early.


J. Cornelius Buie III
Hong Kong

J. Cornelius Buie III, first of all, thanks for reading and writing in. You’ve got a lot more initiative than the rest of my shiftless readers. But what the cuss am I supposed to do with streamed games from Hong Kong?! That might have helped me when we were talking time travel on the West Coast trip. But I’m in Atlanta now and we’re on the same clock as Cleveland.

Still, I always love an international letter. And naturally I love someone who’s even more confused and disoriented than I am.

I’m making progress. But I still want a better letter – (no offense, J. Cornelius). CLICK HERE and send me something, even if it’s a holiday wish you’d like broadcasted. I also do bar and bat mitzvahs.

CrennaThat’s enough pandering for one episode of News … Around … The … League. Let’s get into Victory Formation™ and call this a column.

Until we reconvene in exactly seven days, please remember the following things: 1. Gird up. 2. Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut. 3. A good supply of bodybags. 3. Call a cab or get a designated driver if you’re plowed on Christmas Ale or any other form of delicious alcohol, and as always – but most importantly – to …

Keep the faith, Hong Kong

Shine On,
The Optimist