Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m the one they call “Optimist” – and by now, you nerds know full-well that an offseason Friday can only mean another delivery of that little bundle of joy we like to call NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE.
Sometimes, on a Friday, you can sense that the pending weekend is going to completely rock your socks off. And that’s the vibe I’m getting today.
The weather is beginning to turn. The Tribe is in first place. We’re square with Big Worm and Deebo. Life is good.
Today’s date, May 18, doesn’t have any particular historical significance upon first glance – unless you count the Siege of Malta in 1565 or the deportation of the Crimean Tatars by the Soviet Union in 1944. I do not.
There are some noteworthy birthdays being celebrated today, including former Cavalier great and current Maine Red Claws assistant, Donyell Marshall; Akron native, co-founder of the supergroup DEVO and current award-winning composer, Mark Mothersbaugh; and the first ECW heavyweight champion of the world, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this weekend also marks the birthday of my dad – the Poptimist. I won’t tell you readers what the old man’s odometer is reading these days, but put it this way: I’m starting to consider myself old. And he’s even older than me.
None of the dudes listed above – except Superfly Snuka – are cooler than my father.
But this column isn’t a history lesson or some stupid “shout-out” clearinghouse. I refuse to go another paragraph without focusing on the pride of the Wine and Gold – the 2011-12 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving.
On Tuesday morning, the league made official what every fan has known for months: the top overall pick was this year’s top overall freshman.
Irving put up numbers comparable to some of the all-time greats and, statistics aside, proved to be a cold-blooded killer in the clutch. Kyrie came up big in wins over the World Champs at The Q, the Thunder in OKC and the hated Celtics in Beantown. He vanquished the Pistons twice and was virtually perfect while wrapping up MVP honors at this year’s Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend in Orlando.
Always modest and unassuming, Kyrie thanked Coach Byron Scott and his teammates. He thanked Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and GM Chris Grant and the fans of Cleveland.
But his most touching – and telling – tributes were to his father, Drederick (“You told me anything is possible, and I’m living my dream. Without you, I don’t know where I’d be.”), his late mother, Elizabeth (“I wish she could be here to accept this award with me, but I know she’s right here in my heart.”) and his quintet of buddies from New Jersey (“They kept me normal, they keep me humble and they keep me grounded.”)
If not for three knucklehead writers in Denver, New York and San Antonio, Irving would have been the unanimous choice for this year’s R.O.Y. But he still collected three times as many first-place votes as his next closest competitor.
When the festivities wrapped up, I guess I only had one question about Kyrie Irving: Sure the Kid can win Rookie of the Year trophies, I thought. But can he act?
Luckily, the multi-talented 20-year-old shut me up with this absolute gem – click HERE to watch.
On Tuesday morning, Kyrie’s dad called his only son an “old soul.” Now I guess we know what he meant.
That video just shows how excessively talented the young man is, both on and off the court. And I think once this commercial hits the mainstream, “Massage my bunions!” will become the nation’s new catchphrase.
You guys can disseminate that new slogan over the weekend. Right now, we’re WAY behind schedule and will have to leave myriad current events stories on the cutting room floor.
So if you tuned in hoping to hear about the Connecticut teen who set off high school fire alarms by wearing an overabundance of Axe body spray or the Idaho man who robbed a coffee shop with underpants on his head or the Indiana couple who made a trip to the liquor store with their four kids strapped to the hood – I’m sorry, but you’re S.O.L.
We’re out of room.
On the plus side, that means it’s time to focus on the wide, wide world of sports (and beyond) in another episode of News … Around … The … League …
PLAYOFFS?!! – Yes, although our beloved Cavaliers are out of this year’s tournament, we’re still compelled to take note of the current postseason.
Last week, a member of the Eastern Indiana chapter of the Junior Optimists – young Andy Shepherd – suggested that we Cavalier fans adopt his Pacers squad as they took on the nefarious Miami Heat.
Personally, I was down with the postseason rental. And now I’m glad I was, because Frank Vogel’s squad has Miami not knowing whether to crap or wind their watch. Headed into the weekend, the Bosh-less Heat have failed to top the 75-point plateau in back-to-back ballgames. And they’re looking awfully flummoxed in the process. In Thursday night’s drubbing, Dwyane Wade was shown getting into a sideline catfight with Coach Eric Spoelestra. (“Mee-OW!”)
I’ll leave the X’s and O’s to the coaches. But I do know that the construction of the Miami Heat was – as the Moody Blues might say – “karmically unsound.” And perhaps the chickens are coming home to roost.
In other pertinent playoff news, an injustice was committed this past week in Texas when 12-year-old Patrick Gonzales was suspended for a day from Woodlake Hills Middle School for shaving the likeness of Matt Bonner – his favorite player and a fellow cheddar-head – into the back of his dome.
Instead of showing some local team pride – or simply moving the kid to the back of the class – the school made him shave his head before returning to class.
Texas has executed children for less, so I suppose Gonzales got off light. But aside from the ridiculous punishment is the fact that the haircut itself was awesome to the max!
I mean, look at that shave job!! It looks just like Matt Bonner!
Over the years, Boobie Gibson has shaved shapes into his coiffure – most notably the Houston Astros star. And who could forget Esquire scribe, Scott Raab, shaving “QUITNESS” in pink in the back of his head? But this artwork is truly exceptional!
When Bonner and the Spurs got word of the story, they sent Gonzalez and his family tickets to Thursday night’s game against the Clippers.
A day off, a shaved dome in the southern Texas heat and playoff ducats doesn’t sound like that bad of a deal for the kid. I guess it’s just the principal of the thing.
TRIBE TIME NOW – As previously mentioned, it’s Tribe time now. And as you know, our beloved Indians are in sole possession of first place heading into the first weekend of interleague play.
Whether you love interleague play or not, this weekend should be a barrel of fun. The new-look Miami Marlins are in town, and that not only means Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, but the Marlins new manager, Ozzie Guillen.
There’s no telling what Ozzie might come up with this weekend. He might call for a suicide squeeze with the bases loaded or profess his love for Joseph Stalin or Slobodan Milosevic in his postgame presser. You just don’t know what you’re going to get with that guy.
The Tribe might get Happy Jack Hannahan back this weekend, but if not, Jose Lopez has proven to be a more-than-adequate replacement. On Friday night, the Indians will shoot for their fifth straight win when the mercurial Carlos Zambrano takes on Justin Masterblasterson, who’s desperately in need of a strong outing.
The weather is supposed to be exceptional all weekend and Sunday is Joe Carter Bobble-Head Day at Progressive Field.
Get on the Tribe bandwagon before the train leaves the station, friendoes.
SILENT BUT DEADLY – I was really hoping to get to Saturday night’s Gladiators game against the Tampa Bay Storm in today’s column. But, more importantly, I was hoping to get through this week without a celebrity death.
Unfortunately, that was not the case as we learned of the passing of the Queen of Disco: Donna Summer.
The five-time Grammy Award winner reluctantly became the leading artist of the disco genre – recording hits like “Love to Love You, Baby,” “I Feel Love” and “She Works Hard for the Money.”
In her footsteps followed other disco divas. But for all the Maxine Nightengales, Gloria Gaynors and Evelyn “Champagne” Kings, there was only one Donna Summer.
And for those of us old enough to remember the disco era – and the way it scarred us emotionally in ways youngsters could never know – we remember that Donna Summer was also a stone-cold fox.
The Queen is gone but not forgotten. So let’s save the last dance for her. And let’s closeth our cake-holes and removeth our hats and/or hairpieces while we pause for this slightly-funky Moment of Silence™ ….
There you have it, sports fans and Cavalier faithful. Another installment of News … Around … The … League has come and gone.
It’s Friday, and whether you’re kickin’ in the front seat or sittin’ in the backseat, I hope you have a blast.
And remember to behave out there. It’s Marine Weekend here in Cleveland, and if any Leathernecks catch you guys displaying behavior unbecoming, they’ll stomp a mudhole in your arse. At the very least, you’ll be commanded to drop and give him 20.
As for me, I’m looking forward to celebrating mi padre’s birthday on Saturday and, afterward, going see one of my all-time favorite flicks, Dazed and Confused, in a way it was meant to be seen – on the big screen at a midnight movie.
Alright, alright, alright! I’ll catch up with you turkeys in exactly seven days. In the meantime, please remember to just keep livin’ – L-I-V-I-N. And, as always, remember to …
Keep the faith, Cleveland