The Optimist

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Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m an Optimist, and if the star-date is August 5, 2011, that must mean that not only is it Tawny Kitaen’s 50th birthday, but also time for another saber-rattling installment of NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE.

In many respects, August 5 is a momentous day in history. In 1305, the leader of the Scottish resistance, William Wallace, and his partner, Roger Murtaugh, were captured near Glasgow and transported to London where they were put on trial and executed for mooning the British Army.

In 1620, settlers aboard the Mayflower set a course for adventure, their mind on a new romance. In the Battle of Bushy Run in 1763, Henry Bouquet led his British forces to victory against Chief Pontiac’s Indians, 6-3.

And in local history, on the morning of this date in 1914 – on the corner of 105th and Euclid – the nation’s first traffic light was installed. Minutes later, the nation’s first traffic light violation was cited by Cleveland Police, as the driver swore the light was yellow a minute ago.

Even some unspeakable events – like Nelson Mandela being jailed in 1968 or the Chilean miners being trapped last year – eventually produced a happy ending.

But what does any of this mean for you hardcore hoops fans, hungry for some NBA news? After all, just last week I boasted that I’d have so much NBA news that you’d be whistling “Sweet Georgia Brown” out of your metaphoric buttocks.

I don’t think I can deliver the goods.

Again … Don’t you think I’d love to discuss the possibility of high-scoring Player A signing with Finland’s Honka Espoo Playboys or savvy veteran, Player B, inking a deal with the Taiwan Mobile Clouded Leopards of the Super Basketball League (SBL)?

Of course I would! But I’ve got Uncle Dave’s legal goons watching me like a hawk.

I suppose I could write about the actual labor imbroglio. But I have to echo Cavaliers Radio producer, Scott Andrew Zurilla, who survived the Great Lockout of 1998 and famously states: “I don’t do work stoppages. I do work startages.”

Or I could go with a reader’s suggestion …

Dear Optimist,

In this season of labor unrest, and facing a barren basketball landscape, it is on these summer's eves that my attention turns to the fairer sex: the fragrant neck-nape, the meaty thigh of the WNBA.

Not only is the fundamentally-sound brand of basketball a breath of fresh air, but some of those power forwards are pretty easy on the peepers, too!

I say: You Go Girls!!


Bort Stein, Esq.
Parma, OH

Bort, thanks for the letter, as always. However, if you had read last week’s column, you’d have noticed that I vowed on the day the Cleveland Rockers departed that I’d never cover “The Dub” again.

Not a day goes by that I don’t pine for the summer evenings of Eva Nìmcová- Horáková, Tully Bevilaqua, Rushia Brown or my little paisan, Jennifer Rizzoti. All those lovely ladies, plus the foxy Penny Taylor – who once posed in her birthday suit? How can I not be crushed?!

But I have to throw the babes out with the bathwater on this one. From where the sun now stands, I will cover the WNBA no more forever.

And yet, all this talk of the WNBA has put today’s N.A.T.L. seriously behind schedule.

Now, there’s virtually no time remaining to hear my various opinions on “Shark Week.” (The best part was when the shark bit that dude.) We won’t have time to discuss the encouraging unemployment figures or the story of stoned wallabies as the scientific explanation for crop circles.

We don’t even have room for a Moment of Silence™ for the two brave pilots of the “B-Flyer” plane – modeled after the one the Wright Brothers used to make their first flight in 1903 – who crashed near Springfield, Ohio last weekend. It was a story I originally thought too depressing for an Optimist column, until I read on to discover that all three flight attendants survived the crash with only minor injuries.

All those fascinating, heroic stories: washed away by another overextended introduction to News … Around … The … League.

Let’s pick up the pieces and move forward …

Ready for Some Football – If you’ve ever watched a Cavaliers game on TV or listened on radio – (and if you haven’t, what the cuss are you doing here?!) – you’ve heard the name "Dave Dombrowski." He’s the capo di tutti capi of Cavaliers broadcasting and has been for years. Freddy Mac, A.C., Jim Chones, Mike Snyder – they all have to kiss his ring.

Dave Dombrowski is not the boss of me. But because he’s been with the franchise since the 1940’s, he thinks he can tell me what to write about.

Every time I write about my beloved Brownies, Dave chides me at the office – even after learning of my clinical NFL dependency. I try to tell him that there’s no NBA news going down right now. But by the time I’ve finished that sentence, he’s left the office to go fishing on 55th Street.

That’s exactly the kind of attitude that’ll keep Double-D from enjoying a promising season of Browns football – a season that draws nigh with each passing day of Training Camp.

The Browns brain trust has been reserved in the Free Agent feeding frenzy – and I’m OK with that. I know Randy Lerner will drop the coin when the time is right. And I trust Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert enough to pick the players that get that cash.

Phil Taylor from Baylor ended his brief holdout and, with Jayme Mitchell penciled in at end across from Jabal Sheard, the defensive line is taking shape. Brandon Jackson was added to beef up a tough, versatile backfield. And rookie wideout, Greg Little, has been opening eyes early in Camp.

One week from Saturday, our Pumpkinheads face off against the Pack, and I’ll be ready for it.

As for Dave Dombrowski, he’s lucky the Gladiators got eliminated last Friday and the Lingerie Football League doesn’t start until September. When it comes to the gridiron … the Big O can go all day.

Be a Believer – Fans of sport know what a midseason trade can mean to a team in playoff contention, and on Friday night, Cleveland Indian fans will get their first look at the recently-acquired Ubaldo Jimenez.

One night after Justin Masterblasterson suffocated the Sox in Fenway, the newest member of the Tribe will take the bump against the heavyweight Rangers on Friday night in Arlington.

This is where the rubber hits the road, my friends.

The Sons of the Cuyahoga will try to get through a three-gamer against the Rangers without wilting in the Texas heat. If they do, it’s 12 straight games against divisional foes – with the Central still up for grabs in early-August.

I know that last Friday I predicted the Tribe bats would awaken and that the Indians would stoot-slap Kansas City at Progressive Field. Instead, our beloved Tribe was pistol-whipped by the Royals, losing 12-0.

But this Friday, I REALLY believe the Tribe’s bats will awaken and they’ll shock the Lone Star State and take Big Mo into their Central Division showdown. Indians hitters have always loved the heat. And this weekend will be no exception.


I think we recovered nicely on today’s News … Around … The … League.

And we did so with enough valuable column space for me to mention one more factoid about today’s date.

August 5th – as some of you may know – is also known worldwide as International Beer Day, with celebrations planned in the United States, as well as Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, The Philippines, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey and Venezuela.

Popular forms of International Beer Day events include tapping of new or rare beers, all-day happy hours, beer-bonging, beer flights, beer/food pairings and beer gear giveaways. But basically, people in all the aforementioned countries are just going to drink a ton of beer and get pie-eyed tonight. There’s really no reason to over-think this.

If getting hammered on International Beer Day is the best way for you to survive this summer of discontent, I say “Bottom’s up!”

As for the rest of you, have yourselves a safe and happy weekend. And if Tawny Kitaen is reading – be careful combining your birthday with International Beer Day. A toxic mixture like that could tempt you to beat your man about the head, neck and chest with your high heels. Dudes hate that.

I’ll get my tank top(s) and Eye-talian horn ready for the Feast of the Assumption in Little Italy next weekend. While I do, maybe you mooks can stay occupied by remembering to …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

Your pal,
The Optimist