Good afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m an Optimist, welcoming you to the weekly garden of earthly delights we like to call NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE.
Right around this time of year, fans of sport rejoice over the mighty confluence – NFL and college football, MLB playoffs and, for us local yokels, the start of Cleveland Cavaliers basketball.
That’s right! This week, our beloved Cavaliers finally took the hardwood – and they’ve got another back-to-back on tap this weekend.
We got a first look at our brand spanking new rookies – Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller – and free agent acquisition, C.J. Miles. Andy and Boobie are healthy and happy. Samardo is svelte. Kyrie and Tristan are one year better and each is oozing with confidence.
Sure, the offense sputtered in the first half against Montepaschi Siena, but once the Cavs got past the language barrier, they drilled the Euroleague team in the second stanza. Tuesday night in Canton, the Cavaliers never got in a rhythm and fell to the Bucks by two TDs and a field goal.
Some of our local media-types have already gotten their proverbial panties in a bunch over the Wine and Gold’s offensive struggles. But, as usual, I think this is much ado about nothing. It’s an extremely young team with new moving parts that’s two games into the preseason.
I’d advise you readers not to worry your pretty little heads about it. Byron Scott’s squad will work out the kinks in short order. Everyone knows Coach installs the Picket Fence in the second week of Camp. The offense will start to click and the local media-types can return to normal. Trust me: you don’t want the visual of that crew with their panties in a bunch.
On Friday night, the Wine and Gold travel to Champaign, Illinois to take on da Bulls. On Saturday, they return to The Q for a tune-up against the Wizards, who they’ll face in the home opener later this month.
I’m not sure if the Cavaliers organization has anything huge planned for Saturday night’s game – being that it falls on the same day that I was birthed many, many moons ago. I don’t need anything special. If Moondog wanted to smash me in the face with a birthday cake, I’d be fine with that. And if some of the Cavalier Girls felt the need to give out some birthday spankings, I’d probably be OK with that, too.
But you readers know that I’m nothing if not a modest man. So if it’s just a prolonged standing ovation from all 20,562 fans at The Q, I’d consider that a humbling tribute.
Normally, this is the part of the column where I write about today’s birthdays. But I checked October 12’s group against those born on my day, the 13th – and we totally wiped them out. The coolest people born on the 12th are former Yankees infielder Tony Kubek, actor-turned-evangelist, Kirk Cameron and now-deceased Chinese author, Ding Ling.
The following day, by contrast, legends were born, including Art Tatum, Lenny Bruce, Brian Dawkins, Margaret Thatcher, Doc Rivers, Killer Kowalski, Reggie Thesus, Paul Simon, Jerry Jones, Jerry Rice, Ali G, Ashanti, and the Red Rocker, Sammy Hagar.
That list also serves to take care of our Today-in-History segment. Know what big events happened on October 13th? Awesome people like me and Killer Kowalski were born, that’s what.
I don’t know what happened on October 12 throughout history. Probably nothing.
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a massive story – literally – in today’s Current Events.
You readers know that if there’s one thing I love, it’s stories about extremely huge people or animals or extremely tiny people or animals. Also angry hillbillies.
OK, that’s three things. But today, we’re going to focus on the first one.
This week in south Florida, a giant, softball-sized blue eyeball (pictured, left) from a mysterious sea creature washed ashore and was found by a man walking along Pompano Beach.
Authorities from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as well as experts from the Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution theorize that the eyeball belongs to a an enormous Cloverfield-sized sea monster that could, at any time, emerge from the Atlantic Ocean and angrily lay waste to the entire city of Miami.
The very thought of something that big and nasty lurking off our coast is terrifying – aside from the fact that it has beautiful eyes. I just pray that if and when the Miami monster does attack, our military can destroy the beast right after it demolishes American Airlines Arena.
Either way, I’m ready to change the subject. Huge detached eyeballs are grody to the max, and I don’t want to ruin my birthday weekend with the thought of some angry sea monster smushing retirees on Hibiscus Island.
So let’s kick this N.A.T.L. in the rear end and turn our attention to the wide, wide, world of sports – which always make everything OK …
Hey, Bud! – It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong. At least that’s what I’ve read. And today, I have to admit that I was wrrrrr. I was wrr-wrrrrrrr.
Alright. Everyone who knows me knows that I love to crab about how inept Major League Baseball playoff scheduling is. Having the home team play the first two on the road?! Playing playoff games on in the middle of a weekday afternoon?! It’s insanity!
It doesn’t make sense – to me – to labor through a 162-game schedule that spans six months and rush through a postseason. And afternoon baseball is fine in mid-June. But some of us work for a living, Bud Selig! If my man, Dan Gilbert finds out I’m kicking back watching baseball in the middle of the workday, he’ll have security throw my arse out onto Huron Ave.
But this past week, we saw some of the most fantastic finishes in recent memory. Raul Ibanez’ two pinch-hit homers for the Yankees, the A’s comeback over Detroit and Jayson Werth’s blast for Washington were classic moments. And I was lucky enough to see all three.
So you win this round, baseball.
And I suppose by the time most of you read this, the next round will have begun and you’ll barely remember which teams were even in it. I guess I just wanted to blow off some steam.
Cincinnati Kids– Speaking of blowing off steam, our beloved, beleaguered Brownies are at it again.
Ah, like sands through the hourglass, once again the Telemundo soap opera that is the Cleveland Browns continues to spin. This week, Head Coach Pat Shurmur was under the microscope after making a questionable call and cracking wise with the media afterward.
Coach Shurmur doesn’t got it like Byron Scott.
Coach Scott and the media are as cool as can be. He’s the best. Every member of the Cleveland media – and probably throughout the National B.A. – would agree.
But in Cleveland, the Browns and the Cavs are two different animals – media included. Always have been. Always will be. Cleveland media isn’t New York or Philly. But it’s tougher than people think. And when a team loses 11 straight, they’re testy too.
Shurmur and the Browns need a win on Sunday. And luckily for them – and us – they get it. GUARANTEED.
That’s correct: It’s Guaranteed Win Sunday at the Stadium. The Browns get Joe Haden back. They almost have to run Trent Richardson – who shredded the Bengals in their first meeting. And Brandon Weeden is ready for a breakout performance.
But the real reason a victory is assured is because Browns fans are right on the precipice of giving up and going to that wonderful, far-away world of the 2013 Mock Draft. And the Browns will never allow you to get away that easy.
On Monday morning, we’ll feel good about the Browns. And that’ll feel kinda weird.
Silent But Deadly – Celebrities have had it good over these past couple weeks. The Grim Reaper was content with 86ing us regular folk. But this week, he claimed another victim. (And it wasn’t easy; this was a big dude.)
On Wednesday, we mourned the passing of Alex Karras, who passed away at the age of 77.
Karras played football with the Detroit Lions in the 60s, punched out a horse in the 70s and adopted Webster in the 80s. Somewhat of a renaissance man, Karras also had a stint in pro wrestling, wrote two books and spent three years in the booth of “Monday Night Football.”
Karras once observed that he “was only pawn in game of life.” But he was more than that. And he’ll be missed.
This is the part where you readers shaddap’a’you face and removeth thy hats and or hairpieces while we pause for this week’s Moment of Silence™ …
I think you knuckaheads have had enough optimism for one day. So let’s drop this bad boy in the Pacific and call this a mission.
We’re up to our armpits in Cavaliers action this weekend. I know many of you can’t watch the victories on TV, but that gives you a golden opportunity to the best radio team in the business – John Michael and Jim Chones. You can shoot along to the game on your Nerf-Hoop™.
On Saturday, come down to The Q to see Cleveland topple the Wizards for my birthday. But I have to warn you readers: I’m not accepting presents. Just cash.
I’ll see the rest of you in exactly seven days. In the meantime, remember to floss regularly, never make the first or third out at third base, to call a cab if you've had too much to drink and always, always …
Keep the faith, Cleveland