The Optimist

by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor
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OK, campers – Rise and Shine! And don't forget your booties ‘cause it's cooooold out there today. (It's cold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?)

Hello, y’uns. I’m the Optimist, and that annual greeting can mean only one thing: It’s Groundhog Day in Cleveland and around the Northern Hemisphere!

And you nerds know what happens on Groundhog Day? Every morning you wake up to the same cold, crappy day until you have some sort of moral or ethical epiphany. After that, you move on to tomorrow and everything goes back to normal.

The latter result is what we, as Cavalier fans, are desperately seeking against Indiana on Wednesday night at The Q.

It’d be more fun being stuck in the middle of the Human Centipede than being trapped in the Cavaliers’ current 21-game losing streak. After dropping 31 of 32, the Wine and Gold finds themselves mired in the Mother of All Slumps and in the headlines for the wrong reasons. In the Middle East, millions of cheesed-off Egyptians have taken to the streets, demanding a Cavaliers’ victory.

But like Groundhog Day, every game after December 15 has seen the same sad scenario play itself out. And it hasn’t played out good.


So it got me to thinkin’ … maybe it’s time for a moral epiphany of my own. In previous years, in this very column, I’ve lashed out against Punxsutawney Phil – going on record with threats to hit him with a stick or kick him repeatedly in the face if he predicted more winter.

What kind of way is that to behave? Threatening a prized creature like this with physical violence?! I find my own thoughts and actions deplorable.

So, from one hirsute prognosticator to another, I vow from this day forward to try to understand the herbivorous burrower.

Earlier this season, I bonded posthumously with Germany’s Paul the World Cup Predicting Octopus – bless his slimy little soul. And I’ve now realized – maybe through the humility that only comes with a 21-game losing streak – that creatures with prolific psychic skills such as Paul, Punxsutawney Phil and myself shouldn’t be harangued, but instead studied, appreciated, and perhaps worshiped.

So here we are: on Groundhog Day, with our beloved Cavaliers staring at the business end of a 21-game skein.

It’s lucky for us that tonight just so happens to be Slump-Buster Wednesday Night™ at Quicken Loans Arena.

Would the Cavaliers love to clean the pipes against a sexy team like the Lakers or Knicks or versus a hot superstar like Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade? Sure, who wouldn’t! But sometimes – (and we’ve all been here) – you just gotta bust that slump.

(As you can see, I’ve decorated today’s column with some perfect candidates. Of course, I never judge a person by their appearance. Even the goofballs you see here have some redeeming qualities a partner might find attractive – except for maybe that chick that looks like John Travolta in drag.)

At 18-27 and with an interim coach, the Pacers aren’t butt-fugly, but they’ll do for a much-needed victory in the dog days of winter. Indiana has the league’s second-coolest uni’s. They’ve got Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison. And they’re only a game out of the playoff picture in the East.

So the Cavaliers can still beat the Pacers on Wednesday night and tell their buddies about it the next day.

We’ll examine this evening’s victory right after we hear from a buddy of our own …

Dear Optimystical One,

Oh, for January.

O-FOR-JANUARY!?!? I know why I'm 0-for-January. I'm 0-for-January because the average temperature is lower than my shoe size, and I track slush into the house from the garage. The Wife wants to kill me! When I track slush into the house, it’s Sofa City, sweetheart.

How can the Cavaliers go 0-for-January, the one month where we need them the most!??! Now February is here, and I don't know whether to root for ping-pong balls or victories. And everybody knows February is the one month where we need them the most.

But there is one thing on this day I can tell you. Like the mighty Thor, the Cavaliers vengeance will blow through the corridors of The Q like the gust of a thousand winds!! And whoever is found in its path: be they Pacers, or Pistons (or at least Wizards, right?) shall be summarily smote!

(Won't they?)

Bort Stein, Esq.
Parma, OH

Bort, the short answer to your question is Yes. The long answer is that winning is the ultimate aphrodisiac, And after the Wine and Gold finish off the Pacers on Wednesday night, the Wife’ll be hotter than a firecracker.

Slush or no slush, she’ll be on you like ugly on an ape – figuratively speaking, of course.

Of course, the Cavaliers have to do their part in all this. They have to string together 48 minutes of quality basketball. And how do they do that on Wednesday? By focusing on the first 12.

In order to bust out of their Groundhog Day-like slump, the Cavaliers need to do something they haven’t done in a while: Come out hungry like the wolf in the first quarter.

Manny Harris is the man for the job in the early going, and I see the young triumvirate of he, Christian Eyenga and the Baby Bull getting the Wine and Gold out in front by seven after one period.

Former Pacer and current Cavs coach, Lord Byron Scott, calls timeout with 3.3 seconds to go before half to draw up a last-second play – just to show his team how much this game means. They respond by running it to perfection.

Coach Scott’s gameplan doesn’t all go so smoothly. (It is, after all, Slump-Buster Night.) But I see a hungry, angry squad coming out of the locker room in the second half. And behind another strong outing from Manny, plus the veteran leadership of Antawn Jamison, I see the Wine and Gold closing this one out strong.

The crowd is almost at a playoff pitch when the Cavaliers wrap up their first win in a month-and-half. Even the Pope of March Madness – Clark Kellogg, who’ll be in the gym hosting Black Pioneer's Night – will have no choice but to go all-in for the Cavaliers. “Ich bin ein Cavalier!” he’ll shout as gold confetti falls like snowflakes on he and his fellow Clevelanders.

Pretty sweet, huh?

A much-needed interdivisional victory! Black Pioneer's Night! Slump-Buster Groundhog Wednesday™!!

And on top of that, the Cavs are also giving out these awesome-to-the-max winter stocking caps to keep your cabecita warm during the wacky winter months on the North Coast.

So get your arses down to The Q – or tune in to Freddy and A.C. or Snyds and Chones.

But with or without you, we’re busting slumps tonight, baby.

On this Groundhog Day 2011, I’m a changed man! And you will be, too, after dipping thyself in the healing waters of victory on Wednesday night.

Peace be with you, knuckaheads. And please don’t forget to …

Keep the faith, Parma

Your esteemed colleague,
The Optimist