Good afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! Optimist, here – urging you Cavallieros to cannonball into the weekly healing waters we like to call News … Around … The … League.
We might have too much column today. You may need a doggy bag.
Just to get it out in the open, take a look at today’s bloated Table of Contents …
I. (no time for) Today-in-History
III. (no space for) Current Events
IV. Summer League
V. Summer Olympics
VI. Browns Sold
VII. Tribe Road Trip
VIII. Moment of Silence
IX. Punch Out, Wash Up
This cargo is several tons overweight. But I’m going do what any former Teamster worth his weight would do – go hammer-down the whole way home – racking up tons of phantom overtime pay in the process.
It’s actually a good thing that we don’t have time for today’s Today-in-History. It’s a total bummer.
I’m going to spare you guys the agony of defeat that marks July 27 – a day historically marred by ships sinking, race riots, the escalation of the Vietnam War and Vincent Van Gogh shooting hisself through the chest. It also marks the day that the inventor of the Zamboni – Frank Zamboni – cruised slowly towards that big ice rink in the sky.
There aren’t any huge celebrity birthdays on July 27, either – unless you count legendary Australian comedian Yahoo Serious, nerd icon Gary Gygax, still-foxy former Olympian Peggy Fleming, 23-time WWE champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley or British soccer midfielder, Max Power.
And I’m certainly not going to get bogged down in the week’s current events.
So if you tuned in hoping to read about Tori, the orangutan in Jakarta who’s been smoking cigarettes for over a decade, or about Leba, the Polish beach town that’s offering to give its sand away for free, or about the 34-year-old man in northeast Kentucky who ran out of a hospital naked, through a corn field and into the great state of Ohio to steal some clothes – you’re out of luck.
We just don’t have the space.
And as for you, Kentucky: We don’t want your naked people! At least not your naked dudes. Please don’t make us put up that electrical fence we talked about.
We don’t have time for silliness like naked, smoking Polish orangutans at the beach today. It’s a big sports weekend and we’ve got a long way to go and short time to get there. And we gonna do what they say can’t be done.
So prepare ye for another installment of News … Around … The … League …
Summer Lovin’ – We’re almost a week removed from 2012 Vegas Summer League, so I won’t dwell on it at length.
The Cavaliers went 3-2, pistol-whipping a woeful Knicks squad to wrap up the week on Friday. Rookie Tyler Zeller was the Wine and Gold’s best player, from a consistency standpoint. The freshman center flashed all the tools that made pundits predict he’d be a solid NBA big man for a dozen years.
Dion Waiters didn’t have the week he would have liked and missed the final two contests with a sore left knee. He led the Cavaliers in scoring, but only shot 30 percent from the floor – even worse from long-distance.
But Summer League play has to be taken for what it is. And, above all, it’s impossible to gauge the squad – and especially Waiters – without the presence of Kyrie Irving.
Like Irving and Tristan Thompson, Waiters is very young and would just be entering his junior year of college. Wait until Coach Byron Scott gets his hands on Mr. Waiters for an entire Training Camp. If anyone can get the best out of the young man, it’s Coach Scott. He’s like Yoda, Morpheus and Mr. Myagi all wrapped in one.
Let the Games Begin – As most of you know, Friday night tips off the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Over 10,000 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees are expected to participate in the Summer games.
From a basketball perspective, much of the talk has been about whether the 2012 USA men’s team could beat the famed Dream Team from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
I can’t say either way. But it does pose a conundrum that a close friend of mine is having as the games get underway.
Let’s call this friend of mine “Bill X.” He’s a good, God-fearing, red-meat-eating American man – just like me. And he wants the US of A to win as many medals as they can carry out of the United Kingdom. But he’s not sure if he’s going to root for Team USA in Men’s basketball.
He doesn’t want them to get embarrassed like they did in Athens in 2004. But maybe my friend is tired of watching LeBron and Kobe preening in the winner’s circle. Maybe he’s rooting for the underdog. Maybe figures if there aren’t any Cavaliers or Cavalier coaches on the Olympic squad. He thinks it’d more fun to watch Manu Ginobili or Anderson Varejao claw their way to the gold medal than watch Carmelo and Chris Paul glide their way to it.
Personally, I think Bill X is a commie pinko scumbag who should be sentenced to deportation by catapult. I don’t think he appreciates that Team USA is overseas right now, fighting for the very freedom that allows him to criticize them.
Love For Sale – Originally, I had planned to celebrate our beloved Brownies’ triumphant return to the gridiron as Training Camp tipped off.
Instead, just when you thought the Univision soap opera that is the Cleveland Browns had finally run its course – Que lastima! -- it starts all over again. This time: straight from the top.
On Friday, the city awoke to the news that Tennessee businessman, Pilot Travel Centers CEO (and minority owner of the filthy Pittsburgh Stillers) – Jimmy Haslam – was in the process of purchasing the Cleveland Browns.
As of this writing, I understand that the sale will contain a provision that the team doesn’t leave Cleveland. That’s all I really care about. I didn’t mind Randy Lerner, but I’m all for an upgrade.
Don’t get me wrong. Randy Lerner’s not even in the same league as the all-knowing, all-powerful Dan Gilbert – nor will the new Browns guy be. But I had no beef with him as owner. He spent money – although not always wisely. And he was hands off – although sometimes too much so.
I don’t know if Jimmy Haslam will roll into Berea like Al Czervik and Wang – buying up everything from the orange balls to the naked lady tees. But I do enjoy his truck stops – where I’ve faxed many an Optimist column from the road and (again, as a former Teamster) took many a nap to pad my hours.
And I welcome him with open arms if he’s the guy to guide my Pumpkinheads to the Promised Land.
Warpath – On Friday night, the Sons of the Cuyahoga embark on their most important road trip of the season. There’s no other way to put it. It’s put-up or shut-up time, where the rubber meets the road and we separate the boys from the men and the wheat from the chaff, where the cream rises to the top and you go big or go home.
The Tribe hits the road for nine straight – all within the Central Division. And while they don’t face the front-running White Sox in that stretch, they do draw the Tigers in Motown after stops in Minnesota and Kansas City.
Manny Acta has once again done a masterful job with the Indians and should be in the early discussion of Manager of the Year. Shin Soo-Choo, Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis is a formidable trio at the top of the lineup. But the key the Tribe’s second half success is their droopy-eyed catcher from the Dominican Republic.
If Carlos Santana heats up in the homestretch, the Indians can make a run at this thing. They have the Tigers’ number and have the White Sox in the final week of the season.
Santana warmed up to end the homestand. If he gets hot, he takes the Tribe with him.
Silent, But Deadly – Everything was going pretty smoothly. The weeks were rolling by and celebrities were living full, happy lives without fear of the Grim Reaper's deadly grip.
But this past week, in El Paso, Texas, the great Sherman Hemsley passed away from natural causes at the age of 74.
Back in the 1970s, Hemsley rose from modest beginnings in Queens – moving to a deluxe apartment in Manhattan with his wife, Louise, and his son, Lionel. From that point forward, he became a dry cleaning magnate, hired a wisecracking housekeeper, (sort of) befriended an interracial couple and slammed the door in Harry Bentley’s silly grill.
We’ll miss you, Sherman Hemsley. And in your honor, we closeth our cakeholes and removeth our hats and/or hairpieces for this Moment of Silence™ …
That about wraps up today’s column. If you were man enough (or woman enough, whichever you prefer) I’m glad you made it through the entire payload. And I hope you enjoyed today’s trucker theme as we celebrate the Browns potential new ownership.
Go in peace, Cavalier fans. And remember the two most important lessons of the summer offseason – One – No shirt, no shoes, NO DICE! And Two …
Keep the faith, Cleveland
Vive la revolution,