The Optimist

May 25, 2012
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m an Optimist, and if I’m here and you’re here, not only is it OUR time, but also time once again for that big, fat fanfaronade that we like to call NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE.

Friends, we’ve got a whole lotta love in today’s Memorial Day Weekend column. And not only that, but we also have what we in the writing business call a “theme.”

You’ll see.

Today’s column is so loaded with crap that I say we completely do away with all the usual pleasantries and get right to why this day – May 25 – is heaped with historical significance.

You’re probably thinking it’s a big day because it marks the promulgation of the Argentine and Chilean constitutions in 1819 and 1833, respectively. Maybe it’s big because it commemorates the commencement of the Scopes Trial or Willie Mays’ major league debut or even THE Ohio State’s Jesse Owens shattering three world records at the Big Ten Track Championships in Ann Arbor.

You might think May 25 is big because it’s the birthday of one of my favorite authors, Raymond Carver, or the voice of Yoda, Frank Oz, or the man who wrote the book that inspired the film Field of Dreams – W.P. Kinsella.

HandsacrossIf I had to guess, I’d go with the 26th Anniversary of the unforgettable 80s event, Hands Across America.

I can remember it like it was yesterday – Clevelanders, hand-in-hand for as far as the eye could see. The event, which raised $34 million to fight hunger and homelessness, saw nearly seven million people join hands to form a line that stretched from Manhattan’s Battery Park to Long Beach, California – a distance of 4,152 miles.

The Buckeye State represented extremely well, as always. We had David Copperfield holding hands in Cleveland, Michael Jackson in Youngstown, Michael J. Fox in Columbus, Jamie Farr in Toledo and Chewbacca in Cincinnati. By comparison, the state of Pennsylvania went with Scott Baio and the Pittsburgh Pirates Parrot. Just shows how much they care about hunger and homelessness.

Irregardless!! All of those guesses would be incorrect.

Today is, of course, is the anniversary of the 1977 release of the seminal sci-fi blockbuster Star Wars. It is commemorated worldwide every May 25th as part of Geek Pride Day, (The date was co-opted by fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and some comic fantasy book series called Discworld.)

Geeks would probably correct me and say that that film is actually called Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I call bullcrap on that. I don’t care where the movies happened in George Lucas’ brain. As far as I’m concerned, Star Wars is C-3PO getting dismantled by Ewoks and the Luke and the whole gang getting stuck in the trash compactor and Darth Vader cutting down Obi Wan Kenobi with his light saber.

princessAfter that, I can roll with Princess Leia in the gold bikini and maybe some of the Yoda stuff. But you can keep everything else, including Jar-Jar Binks – whatever the hell that is.

Thirty-five years later, you can’t swing a cat in any area of pop culture without nailing a Star Wars reference. I made two in today’s column before I even got to the Star Wars part.

May the Force be with you on your special day, geeks! Have fun today, but not too much fun. If me and my jock buddies catch you hanging out after sundown, it’s on like Donkey Kong. We’re talking wedgies, atomic wedgies, frontal wedgies, Indian burns, swirlies, mervins, pantsing and purple nurples. It’s all on the table.

I hope the geeks are happy. Because all this Star Wars nonsense has put us way, way behind. We still have to discuss the NBA Lottery, not to mention our beloved Tribe and another bummer day for disco. We’re getting pinched from both ends.

That means we won’t have a chance to examine some pressing current events, like the tragedy that unfolded in Burbank, California when a 101-year-old man was struck and killed by a car driven by a 91-year-old woman.

The woman was stopped at the scene but not arrested or cited. Otto Jensen (b. 1911), who served as grand marshal of the city's centennial parade just last year, was not in the crosswalk but was crossing legally.

ottoNow, if you readers think there’s anything amusing about a nonagenarian running over a centenarian, you’re a sick dog and desperately need help.

That being said: There are worse ways to go than to be crushed by a little old lady. It’s way better than being eaten by a shark or getting rolled by some vato loco from East L.A.

My thoughts and prayers go out to both parties and their loved ones. But I’m sure Otto – especially knowing that the NBA Lottery is just days away – would’ve wanted us to go on with today’s News … Around … The … League.

And we will. We’ll do it for Otto …


NICK'S PICK – Cavalier fans’ heats are aflutter with anticipation as the 2012 NBA Lottery draws near – Wednesday night, May 30th at the Disney/ESPN Studios in Times Square, to be exact.

Most fans realize that the Cavaliers have a 13.8 percent chance of winning the top pick for the second straight season. But as we all know, some crazy things can happen in the Lottery. There’s tons of Math, and those countless statistical possibilities can be difficult to decipher – even for people from Parma.

To wit …


BortDear Optimist,

First off, let me say welcome back. I know we’ve had our differences in the past, but at the end of the day, we both bleed wine and gold. Rumor has it you were banned for the season for using OED’s (Optimism-Enhancing Drugs). I don’t believe that, I know you like to treat your body like a temple.

Now to the business at hand.

I realize that we only have a 13% chance of getting the number one pick again. But if we teamed up with Washington and Charlotte, our odds shoot up to 58%!! I remember when my buddies Eddie and Jimmy and I teamed up to buy raffle tickets for the K. of C. fundraiser some years back. We were trying to win us a bass boat. We didn’t win, but we had it all planned out – each of us would be able to use the boat 2 days a week and every third Sunday.

I’m sure the Wizards and Bobcats would go along – because 33% of something is better than 100% of nothing!! The Cavaliers get the No. 1 pick on Mondays and Wednesdays, the Bobcats on Tuesdays and Thursdays and so forth …

Please pass this idea on to GM Chris Grant in lieu of pay, and other things.


Bort Stein, Esq.
Parma, OH


Bort, thanks for reading and writing in. But once again, you’re hopelessly confused on how things operate.

For starters, the new CBA implicitly forbids teams from sharing a player three ways. And secondly, I’ll take our chances with the 13.8 percent and try to win the whole enchilada again. Nick Gilbert and Co. ain’t heading to the Big Apple to lose.

While Nick gears up for the big evening, the Cavaliers have launched as the location for all things NBA Lottery and Draft related, as well as to make donations to support the Children’s Tumor Foundation and Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation.

Last year, Nick served as the 2011 National Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) Ambassador and helped raise more than $50-large for the cause via his amazing haul at last year’s Lottery in Secaucus. His dad then matched all donations to bring the CTF fundraising total over the $100,000 mark.

It’s gonna be B.I.G. and I predict Nick is gonna bring home the bacon one more time.

OVERPOWERING – Since he’s taken on the role of closer with Cleveland, I’ve remarked how similar I felt Indians reliever Chris Perez is to former MLB and Mexican League closer, Kenny “Freaking” Powers.

PerezThis week, he came that much closer to bringing my analogy to fruition.

You have to hand it to the Tribe’s version of La Flama Blanca, he didn’t back down from his comments one bit. And he went out and put his money where his mouth was.

Perez wasn’t the Indians’ sole hero this week, but his outburst changed the temperature down at Progressive Field. Cleveland took three straight from the Motor City Kitties – with Perez saving each win – to extend their lead over third-place Detroit to 6.0 games.

Shin-Soo Choo is flourishing in the leadoff spot, Jason Kipnis is becoming the team’s emotional leader and Jeanmar Gomez has been almost unhittable. Pronk is rediscovering his power and Jose Lopez has done nothing but hit since taking over for an injured Happy Jack Hannahan.

The Tribe’s next-closest competition, the Chicago White Sox, trail the Tribe by 3.5 games and they host the Sons of the Cuyahoga this weekend.

SILENT BUT DEADLY – I was hoping with all my heart that the only celebrity death news we had this week would be to commemorate the passing of Charles Nelson Reilly.

But alas, one week after the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer, passed away, we mourn the loss of another disco giant – Robin Gibb.

GibbGibb, one of three brothers who made up the disco supergroup, the Bee Gee’s died this past Sunday at the age of 62. The Bee Gee’s were, of course, the driving force behind the iconic 1977 classic, “Saturday Night Fever.” With such hits as “Jive Talkin’,” “How Deep is Your Love?” and “Nights on Broadway,” the Bee Gees sold over 220 million albums and were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

I don’t know who or what is behind all these deaths in the world of disco, but I’m going to go ahead and blame the Boston Celtics. You can pin it on whoever you’d like. Either way, you know the drill: Cakeholes closed. Hats and hairpieces off.


Thank you.

Prepare ye for a rockin’ three-day weekend, meat-heads! As always, I’ll be heading down to the Rib Cook-Off. I saw that Michael Stanley and Todd Rundgren have reported for duty. I did not see mention of Donnie Iris nor of Southside Johnny or a single Asbury Juke. And I wonder: What gives?

NickAfter the weekend, the Wine and Gold go for the gusto on Wednesday night. Our young Jedi, Nick Gilbert, is headed directly to Uncle Dave’s Death Star in midtown Manhattan – and he’s looking to blow that bad boy to smithereens.

The Force is strong in that one.

Here endeth the lesson, friendoes. One Jedi Knight (Nick Gilbert) begins his legendary journey. Another (Otto Jensen) meets his demise. And as this Star Wars-themed column concludes, always remember, in the famous words of Obi Wan Kenobi, to “Live long and prosper.” And, if you can manage, remember my words which simply ask you to …

Keep the faith, Parma

One love,
The Optimist