Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m an Optimist, and – unless you’re a Celtics fan – I’m proud to welcome you aboard this mighty steed we like to call NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE.
The lazy, whimsical days of summer are behind us. Labor Day has come and gone. It’s time to put away your whites. It’s time to put away childish things.
The 2012-13 NBA Season is breathing down our collective necks. And it’s time to get you nerds toughened up for the pending grind.
With that in mind, today’s pastiche will cover serious, challenging topics like life and death, Chris Perez, American politics, Cleveland Browns football and a highway to hell.
Throughout human history, mankind innately knows that it’s time to get busy after Labor Day.
Sure, this day still marks plenty of pillaging and plundering, but what do you expect on a Friday? But moreover, today’s date – September 7 – marks many positive accomplishments, like ESPN’s first broadcast, the first flight of the Consolidated B-32 Dominator, the first Miss America pageant and the opening of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. (More on that later.)
And some extremely productive babies were born on this day as well – including little 7-lb, 3-oz jazz legend Sonny Rollins as well as actor Peter Lawford, author Peggy Noonan, rocker Chrissy Hynde, rapper Eazy-E, runner Utta Pippig, baller Earl “The Goat” Manigault and total fox, Angie Everhart. It’s also the birthday of the greatest football mind ever born: Paul Brown. (More on him later.)
I think you meatheads know where I’m going with this. But we can’t get there until we slow this rig down for some Current Events.
I don’t know whether it’s the pulse of the nation, a coincidence of events or just how I’m feeling that particular week, but every offseason’s News … Around … The … League’s Current Events section seem to have a certain theme.
Two years ago, it was extremely fat people or extremely miniature people or the marriage of a little person to a great big fat person. Last summer and fall, it was the string of (seemingly) unrelated animal celebrity deaths.
This year, as I put the pattern together, the theme seems to be “Defiance of The Man.”
Just recently, we visited and re-visited the story of Vermont’s Roger Pion, who got fed up with the 5-0 and used a 15-ton tractor to squash seven police cruisers. Two weeks ago, a 1,200-pound black Angus cow rampaged through Billings, Montana – taking down a bicyclist, truck driver and a specialized team of rodeo clowns before the coppers put a bullet through her heart.
This week, the Blue Meanies took it easy on cows and stoners. But they were right back at it in New England – Epping, New Hampshire to be exact – where they harassed a 53-year-old woman, arresting her four times in a 26-hour period. And all she did was flout some noise ordinances and crack an immediate family member in the melon with a frying pan.
The first three arrests came throughout the afternoon and evening, as the po-po continued to prohibit Joyce Coffee from rocking out to the AC/DC classic, “Highway to Hell.” After the first bust, Coffee posted $500 bail. After the second, around 9:20 p.m., she posted $1,000 bail. The third one cost her $10-large.
Coffee got her money’s worth on the final arrest – this one for throwing a frying pan at her nephew, hitting him in the head for doing such a terrible Angus Young impression on the air guitar.
A local judge ordered Coffee to undergo a mental health evaluation. But, without reviewing the case files, I would think that’s unnecessary. I mean, look at her subsequent mug shots. She gets happier in every one! By the time she got done kicking out the jams and tightening up her nephew, she probably felt like a million bucks.
It’s something we call “Heavy Metal Therapy” – and it works. But I wouldn’t expect some snooty East Coast judge or his jackboot thugs to understand that.
Where’s Roger Pion and his cruiser-crushing tractor when you need him?!
Irregardless. We’ve got work to do here, people. And I don’t see no stops signs or speed limit. Nobody’s gonna slow us down. Like a wheel, we’re gonna spin. And nobody’s gonna mess us around.
So let’s kick today’s N.A.T.L. into gear, post haste …
Again With the Indians … – Trust me, readers: I wish I didn’t have to write about the poor, poor Cleveland Indians again this year. They went 5-24 in August and head into this weekend 16.5 games out of first place.
I was done. Out!
But I foolishly concluded my last two Tribe entries with the caveat stating that I will not write about the Sons of the Cuyahoga any more UNLESS reliever Chris Perez does something crazy or stupid or both.
And because my word is stronger than oak, we’re now forced to focus again on Kenny “Freaking” Perez and his over-active cakehole.
He’s already belittled Tribe fans and Cleveland as a free agent destination. Then he was filmed cursing out a rambunctious fan in Oakland, using some highly-anatomical language.
This week, Perez took to ripping his own bosses – including ownership and the front office. In comparing the Tribe to the Detroit Tigers, Perez said, “(The Tigers) are spending money. (Ilitch) wants to win. Even when the economy was down (in Detroit), he spent money. He's got a team to show for it. You get what you pay for in baseball. Sometimes you don't. But most of the time you do.”
Of course, Perez hasn’t been all wrong in many of his comments this year. He just has terrible timing. And after his mom washes his uniform when the season is over, methinks it’s unlikely that he’ll be donning Chief Wahoo-wear again.
Bring In the Lefty – Because I briefly covered the Republican National Convention in last week’s N.A.T.L., Section 315 of the 1934 Communications Act expressly states that I must give equal coverage to the Democrats hootenanny down in Charlotte.
I’m not sure exactly where to start.
I guess I should start by asking: Is it sexist to say that Sandra Fluke is kinda hot? Well too bad, because I already did.
The DNC had a little bit of everything and I must admit, it had more juice than the Republican Convention. The Left didn’t have the Outlaw Josey Wales yelling at a chair, but they did have Michelle Obama bringing it with both barrels. They had an obviously re-energized Commander-in-Chief as Barry O continued his oratory excellence on Thursday night.
But just as Clint Eastwood had done in Tampa, it was William Jefferson Clinton who stole the show in Charlotte.
I predicted some of the highlights. I knew he’d go long, biting his lower lip and feeling my pain. I knew he’d be awash in facts and folksy charm. But no one could have predicted the scores of women who threw their panties on the stage like it was some sort of Tom Jones concert.
But that’s Bubba for you. And whether you’re on the Left of the Right, you have to admit that the man always puts on a good show.
Silent, But Deadly – OK, we’ve ignored the elephant in the room for long enough.
On Thursday, some in the sports world mourned the passing of former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell, who passed away at the age of 87.
I’m sure there were some people in Cleveland that celebrated the news of Art Modell’s death; probably that dude who burned LeBron’s jersey.
I have no intention of celebrating another person’s passing. I follow Booker T. Washington’s theory: I will let no man drag me down so far as to make me hate him. But I must say my peace.
I don’t mind former players and coaches eulogizing Modell. And I’m not still angry about what he did – firing the greatest coach in NFL history and moving my beloved Browns out of Cleveland in 1996. I’ll even give him a Moment of Silence™ in the middle of my column.
But I will not – NOT! – accept that he’s worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
If you want to blame Cleveland’s politicians at the time for the relocation of the Browns, that’s fine. I’ll make sure to revolt against Mike White’s induction into the American Mayors Hall of Fame. And if you want to say that Art Modell was a great philanthropist and grandfather, that’s fine too. You can put him in the Philanthropist’s Hall of Fame or the Grandfather’s Hall of Fame.
But for the egregious crimes against the greatest football fans in the country, against one of the greatest traditions in pro football, Art does not deserve to be immortalized in Canton.
(And please don’t tell me he brought TV and pro football together. Like that wasn’t going to happen without Art Modell …)
I’ll give him his silence today, but if they try putting his posthumous bust in Canton, you better believe I’ll make the trip to Stark County to – in the words of Carl Spackler – bark like a dog through the entire induction speech.
Classless? Yes, it is. So was the he and his cronies crushed Cleveland.
So here’s your stupid Moment of Silence™, Art.
I’ll be at the Browns game on Sunday afternoon. And I guarantee that little pause between paragraphs is as much silence as Art’s going to get.
But what do I care? I’ve got season tickets for my Browns – and Cavs season is right around the corner. Right now, I find I’m so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head.
So let’s get into victory formation and call this a column.
We’ll reconvene again in exactly seven days. In the meantime, please remember to eat your greens, choose a designated driver, love the one you’re with and, above all …
Keep the faith, Cleveland