The Optimist

August 31, 2012
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

Good afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m an Optimist, and you lucky sons of a pup have stumbled upon a little something the makers of like to call NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE.

And as you meatheads know, the minute you’re done reading today’s column, Labor Day Weekend begins!!

That’s worthy of a double-exclamation point, although I’ve always found Labor Day Weekend a little bittersweet. Sure, it’s a three-day weekend and it signals the start of football. But it also means time to get back to work or back to work at school. Work is hard.

Jerry LewisIn my Optimist Calendar, summer officially gave way to autumn when Jerry Lewis finished singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at the end of the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. But as we all know, after 50 faithful years of service, Jerry was given the unceremonious boot by the MDA last year.

Now my life-calendar is a total cluster-cuss! Now, summer will end when I say it ends. I might just be one of those Cleveland guidos who rocks the shorts into late November.

In the past few weeks of N.A.T.L. – what with no real Cavaliers basketball news – we’ve been all over the place. Last week, we even dipped into the world of professional cycling. Before I started writing that column, I never knew such a thing existed!

We’ve been spreading ourselves too thin, in my opinion. So this weekend, I’m not going to bother with any off-brand sporting events, like the U.S. Open. I don’t know what’s going on in the world of tennis and I’m not going to pretend to. And I don’t have anything nice to write about the poor, poor Cleveland Indians, so I’m not going to write anything at all.

We’re streamlining today, guys. Today, we’re going to stick with precisely two – (2) – simple topics; topics that everyone can always agree on: Cleveland Browns football and American politics.

CoughlinThat means no time for birthday cake and/or spankings for comedians Buddy Hackett and Chris Tucker, political activist Eldridge Cleaver, former Tribe skipper Frank Robinson, former MTV foxes Julie Brown and Debbie Gibson, rock and roll icons Van Morrison, Itzhak Perlman and Rudolf Schenker, Buddhist, officer and gentleman, Richard Gere, and New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, who – while with the Jacksonville Jaguars – got cheesed at my beloved boss, Tad Carper, and made him drop and give him 20!

And if I’m not going to slow this thing down to spank Julie Brown and Debbie Gibson, you can bet that we’re not stopping for any Today-in-History bullcrap.

So I sure hope you didn’t tune in to read about Lewis & Clark leaving from Pittsburgh or Independence Day in Trinidad and Tobago or Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin inventing the navigable balloon or the maiden voyage of the Aero Spacelines Super Guppy. If you did, you’re totally screwed.

We don’t have a ton of time for Current Events, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t follow up on a story from a previous installment.

On Thursday afternoon Roger Pion – the man who got in a 15-ton tractor and crushed seven police cruisers – was released from a Vermont correctional facility. And he walked out with a smile on his face.

On August 2, angry over being busted with the ol’ left-handed tobacco, Pion is accused of smushing police vehicles parked outside the Orleans County Sheriff's Department with his dad's tractor. He received worldwide support after his arrest and many contributed money to help him cover his $50,000 bail.

On Thursday, Pion thanked his supporters. He says he has no regrets.

PionNow that’s a dude with a truly intoxicating lust for life! I can’t quite call Roger Pion an American hero – because he mashed cop cars and they need those to solve crimes and so forth – but you gotta admire the grapes on this guy. Just look at him! Anybody who’s shirtless in their booking photo has probably just done something bat-shart crazy – and this guy took the gold medal!

His story inspires me to move ahead with our two topics and the remainder of today’s installment of News … Around … The ... League.

Join me, won’t you?


Back It Up – Let’s cut right to the chase: Preseason football blows.

There’s no need to run down the litany of reasons why it blows. The best guys don’t play – or play very sparingly. The results don’t matter. That about sums it up.

BrownsThe only drama that unfolded on Thursday night at Browns Stadium was that none of the backup quarterbacks separated themselves as the last round of cuts looms on Friday night. By the time the clock strikes midnight, we will know the answer to the question that’s been nagging Clevelanders for weeks (and, in many ways, years).

Colt McCoy was just south of turrible. I watched it with my own eyes. Seneca Wallace looked much better last night, but he hasn’t this preseason. And Thaddeus Lewis is Thaddeus Lewis.

I’d like to say that it doesn’t matter who wins the gig, but it does. Quarterbacks in today’s NFL rarely play 16 games, and a lack of a backup can sink a season. I don’t have a preference between Colt and Seneca. I just hope the Browns make the right decision. The second string QB, after all, is the most popular player on the team.

The Browns brain trust went against my wishes by cutting Carlton Mitchell earlier this preseason. But as a newly-minted season ticket holder, I have to trust their judgment moving forward.

Make My Day – I know the proper etiquette is to never discuss politics or religion, but I’m a non-partisan kinda guy. Like a vast majority of Americans, I don’t care which side wins, as long as they do the best for our country.

Whichever side you’re on, there’s no denying that the Republican and Democratic National Conventions make for great theater.

This week, the Republicans took the stage down in Tampa, Florida.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie came blustering in like Blutarsky, VP candidate Paul Ryan fired up the right wing’s base and, on Thursday night, Mitt Romney accepted the nomination by promising to put Americans back to work.

RNCBut it was the Man With No Name who stole the show on the final night of the Convention. Actually, he has a name and it’s Clint Eastwood.

Clint had grown Republicans screaming like schoolgirls at the Beatles when he took the stage. And he put on a performance for the ages -- talking to an “invisible Obama” in a chair he placed next to the podium. He told the chair it should step aside as President and asked it if remembered if he fired six shots or only five?

The only thing that would’ve been more entertaining might’ve been arch-Conservative Ted Nugent jumping on stage on firing about five arrows from his crossbow into that stupid chair.

But I don’t want to be greedy. And, because the Left supposedly has Hollywood in its pocket, I expect an even crazier speech from an even older celebrity to an even better piece of furniture at the Democratic National Convention next week in Charlotte.

We’ll have plenty of time to discuss that next week. For now, that’s a wrap on this week’s News … Around … The … League.

Whether you’re cooking with friends and family or taking in the Cleveland Air Show or just relaxing on the couch with some college football, have yourselves a merry little Labor Day Weekend.

Breaking BadI might do a little bit of all three. And without the great Jerry Lewis to put an end to my summer, I think I’ll set my body-clock with the much-anticipated half-season finale of “Breaking Bad” – perhaps the best show that TV’s ever seen.

As for you guys, enjoy your weekend, appoint a designated driver, always double-down on 11 and please remember to …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

Su hermano,
The Optimist