The Optimist

December 14, 2012
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

Good afternoon Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! Through thick and thin, I am an Optimist. And if it’s Friday, that must mean it’s time for another episode of NEWS … AROUND … THE …LEAGUE. (And maybe a nice fish fry – time permitting.)

Ok, knuckaheads. Let’s recap.

CJ MilesAfter a tough weekend in Minnesota and back home at The Q against Detroit, our beloved Cavaliers girded up good and proper for Kobe Bryant and the LakeShow on Tuesday – stoot-slapping Mike D’Antoni’s struggling Angelenos. Sure, the Black Mamba went off for 42, but a rejuvenated C.J. Miles along with Kyrie Irving – in his triumphant return – combined to give Cleveland the 100-94 win.

(Of course, there were plenty of Lakers fans in the house, which has always flummoxed me – dating back to my Richfield Coliseum days, watching Clevelanders come root for the Bulls or Celtics. If you’re not from L.A., why are you wearing Lakers gear and rooting against your hometown team?! I mean, we’re glad that you paid to attend and buy concessions. The more the merrier. But I gotta ask: Where’s the pride in being a turncoat frontrunner?)

On Wednesday, the Wine and Gold – still basking in the glow of Tuesday’s win – suffered a second-half hangover in Indiana and fell to the Pacemakers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, or whatever the cuss it’s called these days.

The Cavaliers look to recapture the positive mojo from the Lakers victory on Friday night when Scott Skiles’ Bucks roll into town. Byron Scott’s squad will definitely remember their controversial Nov. 3 meeting in Suds City.

In that early-season matchup, the Cavaliers staged a furious rally, led by Kyrie Irving – running off seven straight points in the final 1:37 to tie the game at 102-102 with 0.4 remaining.

What followed was a shamockery of the highest order, as Brandon Jennings took the in-bounds pass, dribbled back-and-forth between his legs, tweeted about hitting the game-winning three-pointer then hit the game-winning three-pointer as time elapsed.

I was in an unhappy Cavaliers’ locker room that night, and I can guarantee they won’t forget about that loss when we tip off on Friday.

After the victory, the Cavaliers mount the Team Bus, bound for the Big Apple and a matchup with the East-leading Knicks who may or may not have Carmelo Anthony. The Wine and Gold have had the Knicks’ number in Cleveland since the Joe Lapchick Era, but it’s a different story at the Garden. Irregardless, I still feel very confident about a W – Melo or no Melo.

With all this winning we have planned for the weekend, we’d better get our N.A.T.L. housecleaning items out of the way quickly.

Because we’re in a rush, it’s good that today – December 14 – doesn’t have a boatload of awesome Birthdays.

Sure, there’s the Elmira Express – Ernie Davis – who, in 1962, became the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy and be drafted No. 1 overall. Refusing to sign with the Redskins and their notoriously racist owner, George Preston Marshall, he was traded to Cleveland. But Davis was diagnosed with leukemia and tragically passed away before ever playing a regular season down for the Browns.

Aside from the late, great Ernie Davis, other birthdays include some Polish soccer players, a couple adult film stars and bodacious Thai-American pop singer, Tata Young.

BushAs for Today-in-History, it’s a biggie. And not for the reason that most of you are thinking: the fourth-anniversary of George W. Bush’s narrow escape from the heinous shoe attack of Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi at a press conference in Baghdad. Our 43rd President ducked not one, but both of al-Zaidi’s shoes.

As totally awesome as that day probably was to the subject(s) of Today-in-History, the actual day December 14 commemorates was also one that will live in infamy for them both.

The subjects are former Cavalier and 12-year NBA veteran, Ricky Davis, and young Cavaliers PR intern, Mike Clark.

On this day in 2003, the Wine and Gold dealt Ricardo Tyree Davis – along with Chris Mihms, Yogi Stewart and a second-round pick to the (hated) Celtics in exchange for Tony Battie, Kedrick Brown and Eric Williams.

The trade worked out pretty well. Eric Williams was a good Cavalier and Kedrick Brown had his moments. Tony Battie did too, but the best part his acquisition was flipping him for Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejao from the Orlando Magic.

Ricky Davis bounced around the league for a few more years and was out of the NBA by 2010.

The Day That Ricky Davis Was Traded, as we have been informed at length, crushed a young Mike Clark. He missed three days of work. The poor kid was sick to his stomach.

Ricky DavisHe is, you see, the foremost authority on the (approximately) 1998-99 to 2002-03 era Cavaliers. In the PR department, in fact, they’ve agreed to unofficially dub it the Mike Clark Era.

If you want to know Dajuan Wagner’s career-high or Bimbo Coles’ favorite color or what Bobby Sura’s up to these days, Mike Clark is your man. He’ll talk some Andrew DeClercq or Michael Doleac or Smush Parker.

Mike Clark is a great young guy. He’s engaged. He drives almost an hour-and-a-half to work from Canton. He has a renovated Browns van. He loves to talk. And he’s prone to yell “COME ON, OLD BOYS!!! YOU’RE MOVIN’ LIKE MOLASSES!!!” if we’re too lethargic on game night.

I don’t think he even knows the Bucks are in town or that the last game had a controversial ending. I think he just works here to steal the old media guides.

Normally, Mike knows that this would be the spot where we’d discuss Current Events.

There was so much going on in the world this week. America continues to dangle perilously off the Fiscal Cliff™. Kim Jong Un is shooting stuff into space. Susan Rice withdrew her nomination for Secretary of State. An Ohio guy named “Oates” bit his buddy – a guy named “Hall” – in the face.

And I had one of my favorite stories of all-time all set for release.

But any lighthearted interpretation of Current Events would be irresponsible because, as I write this weekend’s column, the nation is forced to grieve over another tragic school shooting – this time in Connecticut.

What’s even more tragic about this is that I have to modify it as being “another” shooting.

This column is not the pulpit for what I have to say about this recent horror – or any of the previous ones. I’m bound to cheese off at least half of you. I guess all we can really do is pray for the children and adults that were senselessly injured or murdered. And, more than anything, pray that there isn’t another one in the future.

My Current Events story will seem even better next week. Give it some time to unfold, gather all our facts. I’ll even give you guys a hint: It’s about a little monkey.

That’s what we in the business call “a teaser.” You have seven days and sleepless nights to think about it.

As for right now, let’s get to steppin’ with this week’s installment of News …Around … The …League

’Skins Game – I can’t recall the last time there was this amount of Browns hysteria gripping the city of Cleveland.

Just the fact that Browns fans are allowed to utter the “P-word” without automatically flying into a Jim Mora seizure is a success unto itself. No, our little Pumpkinhead cousins on the Lake aren’t going to make the playoffs. But in Week 13, it’s more fun to dream about the Postseason than the Draft.

JacksonMike Brown taught me to take it one game at a time. So I’m not going to fantasize about all kinds of win-loss combinations and focus directly on Robert Griffith III or Kirk Cousins or whichever rookie Washington wants to get mauled on Sunday.

I see the home finale being a wild one. Lots of scoring. Lots of drama.

RGIII starts the game but doesn’t finish. It’s not one big hit, but a series of knockdowns that provide the knockout.

For the Browns part – T-Rich has hisself a field day, breaking the Browns rookie rushing record in style with a 152-yard effort. Flash Gordon and Ben Watson nab a TD pass apiece and D’Qwell Jackson hits Alfred Morris so hard, his backup, Evan Royster, has to be carted into the locker room.

The Browns draw ever closer to the coveted .500 mark – slipping past the ‘Skins, 30-27.

See Choo Later – We had been talking so much Cavaliers and Browns and college football and NASCAR and soccer that N.A.T.L. has totally neglected the Tribe.

But this week, little Chief Wahoo – with his feather and his big stupid grin – said, “Don’t forget about me!” And the Indians pulled off the first big trade of the Terry Francona Era, shipping Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds in a three-team, nine-player deal.

ChooI’m not a baseball aficionado, but as I understand it, the Tribe gets outfielder Drew Stubbs from the Reds and three pitchers from the D-Backs – right-handers Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw. Arizona gets Didi Gregorius from Cincy and Tony Sipp and Lars Anderson from the Tribe. And the Reds get Choo, Jason Donald and $3.5 billion in unmarked bills from the Indians.

I’m betting news of this deal made Chris Perez cuss up a blue streak – though that doesn’t necessitate that he’s against it.

If nothing else, I’m glad that the Tribe is being proactive.

I may have been a few years off in my prediction of the Cleveland Sports Renaissance. But it’s coming. Cavaliers. Indians. Browns. I can feel it in my bone. Woof. Woof.

That’s all I’ve got for today. There are only two things on the Remember List for the weekend.

The first is to pray for the families and people involved in the Connecticut. They’re going to have a difficult holiday season. Be thankful for what you have.

If you’re not a praying person, just think positive thoughts. It’s pretty much the same thing.

The second applies to you Cavalier fans – and maybe you Browns fans – but definitely not you Laker fans. And that, is simply to remember to …

Keep the Faith, Cleveland

Sincerely yours,
The Optimist