Good afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m an Optimist. You must be the Cleveland sports fans I’ve read so much about. Together, let’s work harmoniously towards the completion of another action-packed installment of NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE– shall we?
As a fellow Cleveland sports fan, before I begin each column, I get to thinkin’: What are we really talking about here? What’s the essence of what we’re talking about?
I’ll spell it out if I have to.
Zeitgeist. We can say it. We’re big kids now.
Sometimes it’s better if you break a word down. “Zeit” – from the German word for “time” and “geist” – German for “spirit.” Zeitgeist, therefore, is “the spirit of the times.”
On September 14, 2012, I’m wondering: What is the passion of the common Cleveland sports fan? What is the pathos?!
Because it’s mid-September (and Chris Perez had a quiet week) we’ve been freed from the shackles of Cleveland Indians coverage. The pennant race and double-wildcard system is now just an obscure theory to Tribe fans.
The Brownies dropped another opener this past Sunday – once again in dramatic, comedic fashion. And once-hopeful Browns fans aren’t sure how or what to feel. But we’ll try to figure it out in a few paragraphs.
That leaves our wonderful Cavaliers, who likely completed their preseason puzzle by inking Alonzo Gee earlier in the week.
The 6-6, 220-pound Gee is the team’s most athletic, photogenic and inspirational player.
Undrafted out of Alabama, Alonzo Gee was cut by two NBA teams, worked his way through the D-League and on to the Cavaliers roster two seasons ago. In order to improve his outside shot and fit in better with Clevelanders, Gee did a stint in the Polish League during last year’s NBA Lockout and returned to post career highs in points (10.6), rebounding (5.1), assists (1.8), steals (1.3) and free throw percentage (.788).
In his 31 starts, Gee improved his averages to 11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 31.7 minutes per contest.
One number I forgot to mention was 25 – Alonzo Gee’s age.
Heading into Training Camp, the Cavaliers now have 14 players on the roster that are 26 years of age or younger. Gee’s backup, Omri Casspi, is only 24. Kyrie Irving, the league’s top rookie, is still younger than the two players (Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller) drafted this past June. C.J. Miles is entering his eighth year and he’s just 25. Tristan Thompson won’t be 22 until March.
Even Anderson Varejao – the team’s senior citizen – is only 30 years old. And you’ve all seen the Wild Thing play. He’s like an 11-year-old hopped up on Mountain Dew and Mike & Ike’s.
The zeitgeist surrounding the Kid Cavaliers is one of hope and youth. A new beginning. Or as my omnipotent boss Tad Carper would call it: “internal growth.”
There’s a feeling that the Cavaliers are brewing something special down at The Q. And this is when a team is most fun to root for – when it’s young, full of promise and potential and P&V. The future is wide open. The world is the Wine and Gold’s oyster.
And these wide-eyed pups are about to be shaped up for the season as the feared “Camp Scott” tips off in just over two weeks.
Before building them back up before the opener against Washington, Byron Scott – following in the footsteps of former Cavs head coach and Marine drill instructor, Bill Fitch – will break the young recruits down, barking that they’re nothing but unorganized grabasstic pieces of amphibian crap. He’ll inform them that because he is hard, they will not like him. But the more they hate him, the more they will learn: he is hard, but he is fair. Here, they are all equally worthless. And his orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve with his beloved Cavaliers.
Coach Scott will run the young Cavaliers ragged when Camp commences. But he’ll have them ready to rumble when the regular season tips off later that month. And those young legs will come in handy when the Playoff push rolls around after the All-Star break.
So if I’m a little bit high on life over my Cavaliers, you’ll have to forgive me. The promise of our upcoming halcyon days has left me unfocused on our normal N.A.T.L. affairs like Today-in-History, Birthdays and, naturally, Current Events.
Lucky for us, I’ve checked the history of September 14th, and nothing has ever happened on this day – unless you count the 1984 voyage of Joe Kittenger, who became the first person to fly a gas balloon across the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t.
And if you’re hoping for a bunch of cool birthdays, that’s too bad, because there aren’t any. The only birthday worth mentioning was Amy Winehouse’s, and she’s not even around to get drunk and/or stoned enough to celebrate it.
Fortunately – or, unfortunately – the world is literally exploding with Current Events, none bigger than the news from India, where a trio of smugglers was apprehended in an international bust with global repercussions.
Security guards at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport noticed a moving bulge in a passenger’s pants during a security checkpoint and uncovered a loris monkey – a nocturnal, carnivorous primate. When pressed by security, the men confessed that they threw another of the loris monkeys – which measure about seven inches and weigh 150 grams, however much that is – in an airport garbage can.
The smugglers made it from a Bangkok airport with the loris monkeys in their skivvies, but couldn’t fool the Dehli fuzz.
Bangkok security is notoriously lax and travelers are almost encouraged to travel with rare or dangerous animals in their underwear. Earlier this year, a smuggler traveling from Bangkok was busted at the Mumbai airport with ten turtles hidden in his shorts. His accomplices were nabbed with Persian cats, tarantulas and 11 bird eggs.
It’s amazing to what lengths people will go to. Sure loris monkeys are totally adorable, with their big, buggy eyes and furry little mitts. But I don’t want a pair of them crawling around in my underpants!
(Or do I?)
I digress. This is a professional basketball website. And we’re not going to get anywhere near the wide, wide world of sports talking about little monkeys.
With that in mind ….
Let’s Try This Again – As I once wrote, this is a professional basketball website.
But if you want to understand Cavalier fans, you must understand the zeitgeist of the Cleveland sports fan. And if the Browns don’t shape the “spirit of the times” for the city of Cleveland, then I don’t know my business.
Cavaliers basketball and Browns football go hand-in-hand. Cavaliers basketball helps Clevelanders get through the week with their marbles intact. A Wednesday win over the Lakers or Heat washes away a Sunday debacle on the Lake. If Browns were all we had, folks would be lining up at Shooter’s to leap into the cool, cool water and end it all.
Last Sunday, our valiant Pumpkinheads took Michael Vick and the Eagles to the wire, but L.J. Fort’s dropped interception on the goal line and Brandon Weeden’s fourth on the final possession sealed the deal for Philly. The defense played well. But, aside from Trent Richardson knocking some Eagles’ DB’s lid off, the offense was … offensive.
Nobody had a tougher week than Weeden, who was bashed in the national media as “The Ginger Cringer,” was bashed by the local media that’s already crying for Colt McCoy, and was bashed by the liberal media for daring to wrap himself in the American flag.
But I’d rather light a candle than curse the Browns’ darkness.
Sure, I know that with little Joe Haden’s suspension and Phil Taylor from Baylor on the shelf, the Browns head into Cincy down their two best defenders. And yes, I realize that the Bengals were one of three playoff teams from the AFC North last season. And of course I know how difficult it is for a young team to win on the road.
But I have a feeling about this Sunday. This is exactly the kind of game the Browns like to win: a victory just as fans are about to write them off for good – this is the last time, seriously, I mean it.
The Browns can’t let you escape that easy or that early in the season. I can’t tell you how many yards Brandon Weeden is going to throw for or how many tackles D’Qwell Jackson is going to make. No one can predict that.
All I can tell you with absolute certainty is that the Browns will win – 23-21 – over the stupid Bengals on Sunday afternoon in southern Ohio.
With the Browns back at the .500 mark, I don’t see any reason we can’t start preliminary playoff discussions. But I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself.
We can talk about Sunday’s thrilling triumph in next week’s News … Around … The … League.
Yes, we only covered Cavaliers and Browns in today’s column. That’s on accounta I need you cats laser-focused on victory this weekend.
That means no Ohio State-Cal or Martinez-Chavez Jr. or even the Tribe taking their frustrations out on the Tigers. I don’t want you thinking about the Women’s British Open or how Junior or Denny Hamlin or The Biff is going to finish in Chicago.
I need you nerds focused on 1 ¾ sports this weekend. Nothing more!
You can still spend quality time with loved ones – whether it’s expanding your mind at the Ingenuity Fest or seeing “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on the I-Max or just sitting back on the sofa and jamming a loris monkey or two into your underpants, I wish you a merry little weekend.
But I’m asking you to gird up good and proper come Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati. The time is here. It’s time to …
Keep the faith, Cleveland
God Bless America,