The Optimist

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Friends, Romans, countrymen: lend me your ears …

My nom de plume is “Optimist” and as you can tell, I’m checking in from beautiful Detroit, Michigan – home of Tom Selleck, Xzibit, George Gervin, the White Stripes, Sonny Bono, Tim LaHaye, and the Beezer – John Vanbiesbrouck.

Normally, this is the part where I tell you about the harrowing life-and-death journey into Motown, with J.J. Hickson diligently manning the Urban Assault Vehicle’s flamethrower as Pistonistas pelt us with rocks and garbage.

But as you can tell by the almost-pastoral postcard to the right – this is a kinder, gentler Detroit when the Wine and Gold roll through town. We could have cruised up here in four
mini-vans.

There was a time where a trip to Auburn Hills gave our beloved Cavaliers nightmares. In preparation for the Pistons, every waking moment was a universe of terror; a marathon of fear. And through the first half of TheBron Era, they’d routinely beat Numeral 23 and Co. like they stole something from the A&P.

I can't even use this photo anymore.
But after Cleveland vanquished what was left of the Bad Boys 2.0 in last year’s First Round, it’s just not the same. Everyone loves Coach Kuester. It’s tough to root against Rodney Stuckey. And not only is Ben Wallace no longer someone to be feared, but Cavalier fans, including myself, find themselves loving the big lug.

It almost makes me miss the days of “Sheed Must Bleed.”

But before you go getting all soft on me, I’m not saying that the Palace has turned into a Shangri-La for visiting ballclubs. And I’m definitely not saying tonight’s game will be a cakewalk or that we’ll be greeted as liberators.

But these Pistons have been taking it on the chin of late – dropping a 13-point decision to Atlanta on Saturday and taking a 26-point beating from Boston last night, losing Tayshaun Prince in the process.

Our former nemeses to the north need some good news. And other than tonight’s loss to Cleveland – (and this Sunday evening’s, of course) – I hope Coach Q runs the table on the season. I never thought I’d be wishing the Pistons luck, but here I am.

Luck doesn’t do any good against TheBron. And that point is made abundantly clear when the reigning MVP deflates the Pistons with a 14-point first quarter. Sir Maurice Williams cans his first four three-pointers.

Will Bynum actually leads all scorers with 22 through three quarters, but by then, four Cavaliers are in double-digits – as is Cleveland’s lead.

I wish I could describe what I foresee as a dramatic fourth quarter, but instead, I see Antawn Jamison tormenting Jonas Jerebko along the baseline – throwing in one unorthodox shot after another: floaters, finger-rolls.

By the time Stretch-4 gets done with the young Swede, Mike Brown is pulling his starters and the Wine and Gold are ahead by three touchdowns. The Cavaliers go on to win their ninth game in ten tries – 106-89 – and, more importantly, reduce the all-important Magic Number for winning the Central Division to “1.”

Here endeth the lesson, meatheads.

I hope it’s a nice, calm sports-day back in C-Town and the Browns don’t trade or release any more quarterbacks. That way, you people can concentrate on St. Practice Day – the day when real drinkers strap it on 24 hours early in preparation for the real deal.

"Think you're better than me?"
You think John Daly or our International Junior Optimist friend in Belfast, Daniel Cosgrove, waits for the actual St. Patrick’s Day to start schlooking?!

Not bloody likely. At least one of them is at a Hooter’s at this very moment, breaking their livers in like a catcher’s mitt.

So if you consider yourself any kind of respectable partier, you’ll fire up a brew or two for tonight’s St. Practice Day matchup in Motown.

I’ll talk to the rest of you Lightweights tomorrow from the homeland. In the meantime, will you please …

Choose faith, Cleveland

Yours truly,
The Optimist