The Optimist

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Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! It’s me, the shaman of sugar-coating – offering you another taste of the intoxicating off-season elixir known as News … Around … The … League.

Some of you might be wondering why I’m sporting this awesome mullet today. We’ll get to that in just a minute.

Over the past few weeks, the date that marked another N.A.T.L. has been utterly meaningless. Last week, we celebrated Loretta Swit’s birthday. The week before, it was the abrogation of the 18th Amendment.


But today, as you amateur numerologists know, is the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of the new decade. And at 11:11 in the a.m. and p.m., if you’re not trippin’ just a little bit, you should be.

Is 11-11-11 a perfect day to play the numbers? Yes, it is. But it’s so much more than that.

On the positive side, for example, DisneyWorld in Orlando will be hosting 11 weddings today. And across Malaysia, over 1,000 weddings will take place. The Corduroy Appreciation Club is having a huge party in Manhattan and the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City is giving away $1,100 every 11 minutes.

On the negative side, we’ve got the ultimate buzz-killers, the Mayans – or at least those adhering to the Mayan prophecies – who see today as a key date in a sequence that will end on December 21, 2012 – the day that produces either a new spiritual era or the gruesome extinction of mankind right before Christmas.

But that’s all hocus-pocus compared to the date(s) that we should be celebrating today.

First and foremost, of course, is Veteran’s Day – a day in which civilian panty-waists like me take the opportunity to salute the courageous men and women who’ve served and sacrificed for the greatest country on planet Earth. I recently saw a poignant definition of a veteran that read: “A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America for an amount of up to and including my life.’”

My father was a lean, mean fighting machine in Korea and my uncles were all either Navy or Marines. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize Army PFC Craig D. Sirna, who proudly represents the military wing of the Junior Optimists.

Even today’s birthdays are militarily-themed. They include prolific funnyman, Ohio native and former Marine, Jonathan Winters, legendary author Kurt Vonegut, who was captured in the Battle of the Bulge and witnessed the bombing of Dresden firsthand, and probably the greatest warrior in the U.S. military history, General George S. Patton.

If General Patton knew that the Mayans were concocting doomsday scenarios on his birthday, he’d have led the Seventh Army into South America to stomp their freaking guts out. And that’s just one of the reasons we should stop and salute our brave veterans on this day.

So why in the world would I wear a mullet to celebrate Veteran’s Day?

I wouldn’t. I’m sporting this sweet mullet because the other huge commemoration marked by the date 11-11-11 is “Nigel Tufnel Day” – which celebrates one of the greatest musicians and philosophers of the 20th century.

Nigel Tufnel, of course, was the lead guitarist of the iconic heavy metal group, Spinal Tap. Along with vocalist, David St. Hubbins and bassist Derek Smalls, Spinal Tap produced some of the biggest metal albums of the ‘70s and ‘80s, including Break Like the Wind, Shark Sandwich, The Sun Never Sweats and, of course, Smell the Glove.

But the reason music fans across the globe celebrate Nigel Tufnel on this day is for his ground-breaking creation of the guitar amplifier that goes to 11.

Before this innovation, most blokes would be playing a 10 – all the way up, all the way up, all the way up. But where could they go from there? Where?

Because of Nigel Tufnel – rockers can now go to 11.

It’s one louder.

All this fanfaronade has been fun, but once again it’s put us well behind schedule. Plus, if General Patton knew that he was stuck in the same column as both Nigel Tufnel and the Corduroy Appreciation Club, he’d slap the living shart out of me. And I’d deserve it.

So let’s drop our socks and grab our jocks for a Veteran’s Day installment of News … Around … The … LeagueDOUBLE-TIME!!!

Any Given Sunday – I’m not going to pussyfoot around today – and you readers know how much I love to pussyfoot on a Friday. But in today’s column, I’m going to get my pigskin pontification out of the way early.

Baseball news is over. Basketball news is, quite frankly, too depressing. I’m getting right to the gridiron.

I’ll skip the standard Cribbs-Cribbs-and-more-Cribbs spiel – right after I write that I’d line him up behind big ol’ rookie fullback Owen Marecic and dare the D to stop him. If Josh Cribbs touches the ball 16 times in a game, 12 positive plays will happen.

But according to my calculations, the star of Sunday’s show is big Phil Taylor from Baylor, who wreaks havoc on the Rams’ O-Line like Gojira tearing up Tokyo. Cleveland’s first round pick leads a Browns charge that holds Stephen Jackson to 79 yards on the ground and sacks Sam Bradford four times.

The heretofore coagulated Browns offense cuts loose sans both starting backs, as young Colt McCoy finds Greg Little for a pair of touchdowns.

General Patton once said that “success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” Our beloved Brownies bounce back in the win column, 33-10, stoot-slapping the Rams on the sunny shores of
Lake Erie.

Silent, But Deadly – After going several banner weeks with nary a celebrity death, we’ve had a regrettable run over the past few.

This week, the sports world and regular world mourned the loss of the great Smokin’ Joe Frazier.

Joe Frazier, associated with Philadelphia but born in South Carolina, held the heavyweight belt in a time of truly great heavyweights. He’s obviously tied most closely to three fights with Ali – bookended by winning the belt in 1971 in “The Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden and losing a grueling 14-round TKO in the “Thrilla in Manilla” in 1975.

Frazier attempted a brief comeback in 1981, then retired and ran a gym in Philly. He finished 32-4-1 and is in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Smokin’ Joe had a devastating left hook and won an Olympic gold medal. He fought in two or three of the greatest 10 fights of all time. His daughter Jacqui once fought Laila Ali. He appeared in “Rocky,” on “The Simpsons” twice and did the Howard Stern Show. He even once created a soul-funk group called "Joe Frazier and the Knockouts."

Do I need to write more or have I convinced you readers to closeth thy pieholes and removeth thy hats and/or hairpieces in a Moment of Silence™ for the Champ …

Thank you.

Like you readers, I hope by the time I check in next, the NBA will reach a peace accord and finally put an end to this celebrity bloodshed.

Happy Veteran’s Day, Veterans. Happy Nigel Tufnel Day, metalheads. And if you’re both, I truly salute you.

Besides what General Patton once said about the Browns, he also once wondered: “If a man does his best, what else is there?” Joe Frazier once mused: “Life doesn’t run away from nobody. Life runs at people.” And Nigel Tufnel once asked: “What’s wrong with being sexy?”

I like to think that the secret to life is somewhere in between all three.

Here endeth the lesson. Go in peace, Cavalier fans. This weekend, appoint a designated driver, always double-down on “11” (exspecially tonight) and, above all, do your best to …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

Su hermano,
The Optimist