The Optimist

September 21, 2012

Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! Me – I’m an Optimist. You are Cavalier fans. Let’s cut through the crap and get busy with another episode of NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE. And let’s do it Gangnam Style.

In just over a week, the Kid Cavaliers tip off the 2012-13 season. Sergeant Byron Scott will turn the posh Cleveland Clinic Courts into his own private Thunderdome – calling the new recruits “ladies,” inspecting their footlockers for jelly donuts and barking at them to get on their faces and give him 20 – all while Andy, Boobie and Luke Walton play a leisurely game of Around the World on the adjacent court.

Yes, there’s action in Independence right now. But it becomes official in a matter of days.

This year’s Cavaliers have this old dog feeling reborn.

We’re in the golden age of a franchise. I remember when the Price-Daugherty-Hot Rod Cavaliers began to percolate. I remember the first year of the Bernie Era Browns and the early days of Manny, Thome and Albert Belle’s Tribe back in the mid-90s. And I feel like our current Cavaliers are on the cusp of just such a Christmas Eve in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers have one of the best young point guards in the NBA. They have a strong rotation of young bigs and a pair of two-guards who can create off the dribble. Recently-inked Alonzo Gee can jump out the gym and has improved every year.

Personally, in order to start shedding some weight before Camp Scott, today’s column is going to be lean and mean. We’ve talked some basketball and we’re going to talk some football and then we’re going to do a Moment of Silence about football.

If that spread doesn’t sound appealing, you might want to try something a little different – like this awesome essay on Mormon folk art, specifically Bathsheba Smith’s beautiful, decorative (yet functional) work in all genres – including quilts, paintings and gravestones.

For those of you with the backbone to see this thing through, I admit that I lied earlier. We do actually have time for Birthdays and Current Events, but definitely not Today-in-History. Nothing that great ever happened on September 21 anyway, trust me.

murrayMaybe the best thing that’s ever happened on this date occurred in 1950 when Lucille and Edward Murray gave birth to William James “Bill” Murray – arguably the funniest man to walk planet earth.

Of course, that’s just one man’s opinion. You might feel the same amount of admiration for a little itty-bitty Artis Gilmore, birthed one year earlier. Or maybe for little Larry Hagman or Leonard Cohen or Faith Hill or Doug Moe or Stephen King or Sir Sidney Moncrief.

They’re all big boys and girls now. And they’d understand that before we can get to the wide, wide world of sports, we must carve out some time for Current Events.

There’s a wave of turmoil in the Middle East, Amish dudes are being sent to prison in Cuyahoga County and, in the U.S. Presidential election, the gloves have come off.

Naturally, N.A.T.L. is not immune from the world at-large. With that in mind, today’s Current Events focus on complex topics like politics, foreign affairs, health and nutrition, and – because this is the Internet – kitties.

We first go north of the border, where an adorable black-and-white cat named “Tuxedo Stan” is running as a third-party candidate for mayor of the Canadian city of Halifax. Tuxedo Stan has his own Twitter account and, according to a CBS News online poll, 55 percent of respondents say they’d consider voting for him.

cat2If Tuxedo Stan wins the election, he’ll be just the second feline mayor elected in Canada. A cat by the name of “Stubbs” has been the mayor of a town called Talkeetna for the past 15 years.

Stupid hosers.

Americans have our own problems. We haven’t elected any animals to run our towns yet. But according to a report from Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, if America's obesity trend continues at its current pace, all 50 states could have obesity rates above 44 percent by 2030.

In Richardson, Texas, a 5-year-old female tabby got a head start on the curve, weighing in at a hefty 41 pounds when she was dropped off at a local animal shelter. The shelter is looking for a home for the great big fat cat they’ve ironically named “Skinny” – who’s as round as R2-D2 and weighs more than a bag of peat moss.

catAs of this writing, Skinny has still not found a home. Contact the animal shelter in Richardson, Texas if you’d like to adopt her. Apparently she’s “very sweet” and “likes to have her tummy scratched.” On the negative side, she does eat other cats.

I guess the lesson is: Everything’s bigger in Texas.

OK, fatties. If almost half of us are going to be obese in 18 years, let’s get to work and crack open another fat-saturated, high-calorie helping of what we locals like to call News … Around … The … League

Brown Out - By “News,” I mean Browns news. And by “League,” I mean the National Football League. I realize this is a professional basketball site. And we’ll be up to our armpits in Cavalier action in less than a fortnight. But I am a Clevelander, first and foremost.

Before the Draft, scouts told the Browns: ‘Don’t take a running back that high! It’s too risky!’ They were saying, ‘Don’t draft Brandon Weeden, his eyes are too close together!’

weedenBut last week in Cincinnati, Browns fans got a glimpse at the future – with both rookies excelling in a game that accentuated the loss of Joe Haden and, to a lesser extent, Phil Taylor from Baylor.

This week, the Buffalo Bills – a franchise almost as forlorn in recent years as our own – roll into Cleveland.

C.J. Spiller has run roughshod over Buffalo’s first two opponents, so it doesn’t get easier for our Pumpkinheads. But on the defensive side of the ball, D’Qwell Jackson is playing as well as anyone in the AFC right now. He’s not only putting up big stats, he’s cracking dudes in the mouth, which I love.

Like the young Cavaliers, the Baby Browns are on their way, and they’ve given me eight solid quarters of entertaining football. And I have a sneaking suspicion that this Sunday’s 33-26 victory at Browns Stadium is going to be the best one yet!

I will be at the Lakefront on Sunday afternoon – and without a cotton-pickin’ DOME over my head!

Oh, I’ve heard the rumblings. I know Jimmy Haslam's been at City Council this week. And I want no part of it.

I know some of you don’t agree with me. But you’re wrong.

haslamFor starters, no other team in our Division has or needs one. Secondly, I feel if you want to watch a Browns game inside with a roof over your head, you should stay home. And thirdly, I believe the old “if-we-get-a-dome-we’ll-eventually-get-the-Super-Bowl” argument is the biggest scam perpetrated on the public since One-Hour Martinizing.

Toughen up, C-Town. I know you’re restless. But we don’t need better uniforms or better helmets or a better stadium. We need a better team. And I believe the Brownies are on their way.

I want the best for Cleveland. Nobody wants that more than me. The Horseshoe is mint, and Medical Mart looks magnificent. I want conventions and concerts and (exspecially) the NBA All-Star Game. But we can get all that without a lid on the Stadium.

Silent But Deadly - Two episodes of N.A.T.L. ago, we paused – (begrudgingly) – to give former Browns owner Art Modell a Moment of Silence™.

It was the right thing to do.

But this week, the column barely has enough space appropriate to fill the Moment we must give the great Steve Sabol – genius.

Steve Sabol was the creative force behind what his father, Ed, had built at NFL Films and his cinematic and artistic ingenuity propelled an entire league. NFL Films used symphonic music, humor, unheard of access and John Facenda’s pipes to mythologize the game.

Sam Peckinpah told Sabol that he filmed one of his slow-motion gunfights based on how NFL Films are made. Ron Howard admits that they changed the way he and other directors make movies.

sabolSabol died at the age of 69 from brain cancer this past week.

Two weeks ago, we paused for Art Modell, who, in my opinion, disgraced the league by hijacking the Browns. I don’t care what Ray Lewis tells me.

And this week, we honor someone who helped build the league and enhanced everyone’s enjoyment of a great American sport.

That means now it’s time to closeth they pieholes and removeth thy hats and/or hairpieces for this richly-deserved Moment of Silence™

Thank you.

Here endeth the lesson, friendos.

If you’re just returning from that article about Mormon folk art, here’s a brief recap: One cat is running for mayor in Halifax and another cat weighing more than a five-year old boy got left at a shelter in Texas. Buffalo’s playing the Browns this week. I don’t want a dome on the Stadium and, in the end, Steve Sabol died.

That sounds sadder than the column actually was. But you missed all the good stuff while you were reading about Bathsheba Smith’s quits.

That’s OK. We’ll be back next week.

In betwixt now and then, do us all a favor: hold the door for a lady, find a designated driver or call a taxi, always keep your mouth shut and never rat on your friends, and above all …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

One love,
The Optimist