The Optimist

December 21, 2012

Santa 2Happy Holidays, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m an Optimist, and if these are our last moments on Earth, I’m glad you chose to spend them with me and the final episode of NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE. I’ll try to make it good.

As you’ve read, well, pretty much everywhere, the ancient Mayans have called for today – December 21, 2012 – to be the end of civilization as we know it.

But while some of you preppers think this is the day that mankind crashes and burns in a big ol’ Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay orgy of global destruction, or maybe a nice zombie apocalypse, I don’t’ see it going down that way at all. And I don’t think the Mayans did either.

I think the Mayan peoples – roughly 3,100 years ago – saw this date as a new beginning. The end of one “calendar” and the beginning of a new one.

I don’t think we have anything to worry about today. In fact, I think a new golden era could be upon us – (possibly embodied by the pending Cleveland Sports Renaissance). Either way, God would never blow up the world this close to little baby Jesus’ birthday.

A new golden era would be just what the doctor ordered for a Kid Cavaliers squad that’s played hard recently, but hasn’t gotten the W’s to show for it.

On Tuesday, Toronto’s second unit did a number on the Wine and Gold. And the following night in Boston, Byron Scott’s young team spotted the (hated) Celtics 20 points before mounting a major comeback. Cleveland got to within a deuce before they ran out of steam. Habitual Cav-Killer Paul Pierce scored the last seven of his 40 points in the final four minutes to seal the deal.

Kyrie IrvingDespite the losses, Kyrie Irving has been sensational – exspecially last Saturday night at the Garden. Dion Waiters is starting to shake off the rust. C.J. Miles is still stroking it. And rookie Tyler Zeller, unfettered by the protective mask, was impressive in his first start, dropping 20 points and doing a nice job on All-Nemesis Team fixture, Kevin Garnett.

But if ever there were a weekend for the Mayans to bust off this “new golden era” I’ve been reading so much about, it’s this one.

The Cavaliers have struggled against Central Division foes of late. They’ve dropped nine of their last ten against Indy – who comes to town on Friday – and nine straight to the Bucks – who host Cleveland on Saturday.

The Wine and Gold hope to be at full strength this weekend. And it’s a perfect time to reverse some recent fortunes. They simply need to put TWO good halves together against the Pacemakers at The Q and get the game out of reach of the fourth-quarter clock operators in Milwaukee.

It’ll be tougher than it sounds. But, with the snow finally falling, I can feel change in the air. And assuming the sun doesn’t deplete its hydrogen core and expand to engulf the Earth this Friday, we’ve still got our weekly chores to tend to – starting with beaucoup Birthdays.

We’re absolutely loaded today, so don’t plan on getting a big slice of cake.

Santa 4We’ve got the actor whose movies have grossed more than anyone in film history, Samuel L. Jackson. We’ve got notorious pirate, Calico Jack Rackham, who invented the Jolly Roger flag, and we’ve got breeder Jack Russell, who invented Jack Russell terriers. There’s Joe Paterno, whose first 82 years were really great. And there’s John Avildsen, who directed “Rocky” and “The Karate Kid,” but was famously booted mid-production from helming other blockbusters like “Saturday Night Fever,” “Serpico,” and “Rocky vs. the Karate Kid.”

There’s Adam Schefter, Florence Griffith Joyner, Ray Romano, Chris Evert, Keifer Sutherland, St. Ed’s grad Phil Donahue and Jane Fonda, who’s remembered for so many other things besides how mind-blowingly foxy she was in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

From a Cavaliers perspective, today we celebrate Mike Gansey’s 30th birthday. Gansey, as many of you know, starred at Olmsted Falls and West Virginia as well as overseas and in the D-League. He’s now our Director of Development League Operations.

And finally, I have to celebrate a personal favorite: the late, great Frank Zappa.

ZappaZappa would’ve been 72 today, and he’ll always be remembered as one of rock’s true pioneers. Some songs from his massive discography include Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow, Dancin’ Fool, Baked Bean Boogie, Big Leg Emma, Let’s Move to Cleveland, Charlie’s Enormous Mouth, Joe’s Garage, Chunga’s Revenge, Jumbo Go Away, Debra Cadabra, My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama, the Illinois Enema Bandit, Kenny’s Booger Story and several other song titles so profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here.

Zappa is survived by his four children: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.

Speaking of late-greats, and as long as it’s Doomsday and all, I decided to replace Today-in-History with a quick installment of Dead-Today-Still-Dead – an honor that goes to seminal American author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, who croaked of a massive heart attack on this day in 1940 whilst eating a candy bar.

All those Birthdays – plus F. Scott Fitzgerald’s rough day – have put the trains way behind schedule.

Santa 3We’ve still got Current Events to cover, and I was going to go with the heart-warming story of hopeless romantic and former middleweight champ, Jake “The Bronx Bull” LaMotta, who recently tied the knot for the seventh time. But last week I promised you readers a Current Events story about a little monkey. And a story about little monkey it shall be.

By now, many of you have heard the tale of a monkey named Darwin, who was spotted wandering around an IKEA parking lot in Toronto earlier this month – clad in a smart, fleece-lined shearling coat (and a diaper).

IKEA staffers cornered the monkey until officials from the city’s Animal Services Department arrived on the scene and took the tiny, 7-month-old primate to a sanctuary for questioning. Darwin will remain there through the holidays despite his owner, Yasmin Nakhuda’s protests to have Darwin – her “child” – returned to her.

I thought Canadians were supposed to be a civilized, tolerant people. But now you’re telling me a well-dressed monkey in a diaper can’t go get hisself some Kvarnvik cookware or a nice Jonsbo Barby table lamp without ending up in the hoosegow?! Someone at the Toronto A.S.D. will probably swipe Darwin’s sweet coat and give it to their toddler for Christmas or Boxing Day or whatever they celebrate up there.

monkeyI’ll take American freedoms, thank you very much. We let our little monkeys shop wherever they damn well please.

I’ll keep you readers posted on Darwin’s quest for freedom in future installments. Right now, while the rest of us celebrate the holidays, the poor little guy is probably just sitting there in the joint, staring up at his big poster of Raquel Welch.

He’d want us to go on with our lives and cover some sports to cover before Armageddon hits. So let’s proceed, shall we?

Head For the Mountains – Actually, we only have one sport to cover today.

We’re still in college bowl limbo and the Tribe still hasn’t bagged that big free agent yet.

ManningThat leaves us with our beloved, beleaguered Brownies – who head west to face off against Peyton Manning, Von Miller and the white-hot Denver Broncos. The Broncos are looking to secure playoff positioning while Pat Shurmur’s squad is simply trying to end the season off strong.

Among the questions that’ll be asked over these next two weeks will be whether or not Brandon Weeden is the guy at quarterback, whether or not the coaching staff is fit to continue and whether or not Phil Dawson and Josh Cribbs will be playing their final games in a Browns uniform.

The Browns aren’t there yet, but there’s something I like about them that’s similar to what I like about this young group of Cavaliers.


Not ownership in the same way Jumpin’ Jimmy Haslam and Dan Gilbert own their respective teams. This refers to the young players; players who now have a stake in the team and the city’s success. Kyrie Irving, Joe Haden, Dion Waiters, Trent Richardson, Tyler Zeller, Phil Taylor from Baylor, Tristan Thompson, T.J. Ward.

Santa 6These guys are your Cavs and your Browns. They don’t know nothing about the “Curse of Colavito” or “O.I.C.” or any of that other bullbarsh. They’re here. They love Cleveland. They want to get it right. And when they get there, after we’d invested in each other, that’s when hometown sports are at their best.

I’m hoping we’ll see some of that youthful enthusiasm tonight at The Q and tomorrow in Mil-ee-wah-que. What better day to turn this thing around than the last day of our lives?

Personally, I don’t buy it. I think this whole doomsday thing was just a way to incite panic, like yelling “FIRE!” in a movie theater or throwing a Baby Ruth into a swimming pool.

Santa 1I’d rather mark this day as what it truly is, the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year, the first day of winter. The sun stays up a little longer tomorrow and the day after and the day after that.

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukah, nothing or all of the above, I wish you a safe and healthy holidays!

If we’re still around in seven days, I’ll check back with you guys to make sure Santa got you everything you wanted. In the meantime, set out the milk and cookies, get in your footie-pajamas and get ready to …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

Feliz Navidad,
The Optimist