The Optimist

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Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m the Optimist, and I’ll be your pilot on another Promethean journey to the center of the sports universe known as News … Around … The … League.

As a born optimist, I’d always rather look to the future as opposed to the past. But part of me wishes today was yesterday.

On today’s date throughout history, nothing happened.

This is the part of the column in which I like to say “… on this date, August 26, blah, blah, blah …” But that’s a non-starter today. Sure, the Namibian War of Independence tipped off with the Battle at Ongulumbashe in 1966. But how will that play in Peoria?

August 25th had everything!

The Liberation of Paris. The admission of Zimbabwe into the United Nations. Not to mention big birthday celebrations for Regis Philbin, Rachel Ray, Rollie Fingers, the greatest shooter in the world (Damon Jones), the greatest cricketer in the world (Shahid Mahboob), a metal god (Rob Halford) and the god of thunder (Gene Simmons).

The most important person born on stupid August 26th is Stan Van Gundy.

But I suppose there’s no use wasting precious column space lamenting the fact that yesterday isn’t today. Let’s just wish Stan Van a happy birthday and hope someone buys him some sport coats that go all the way down to his wrists.

We’ve got way too much to cover, anyway. The 26th annual Cavaliers Youth Fund Golf Classic, for example.

Since the event’s inception, the Golf Classic has raised over $22,000,000 through the Cavaliers Youth Fund – benefiting those in need in our community.

This year’s outing was held on the plush, gopher-free grounds of Firestone Country Club. Local duffers joined Cavalier coaches, front office and former players out on the links on a gorgeous August afternoon in Akron. Along with legendary fixtures, Austin Carr and Campy Russell, some former friends included Phil Hubbard, Hot Rod Williams, Michael Cage, Luke Witte, Ira Newble, Brevin Knight and Larry Nance.

Of course, all of those Cavalier greats were overshadowed by several members of the Cavaliers Brass – including my beloved boss, Tad Carper – who donned white Cavs golf shirts, Payne Stewart-style wine-colored knickers and matching white-and-wine argyle socks.

As you can see from the photo (left), the group looked absolutely ridiculous. Don’t they know that pleats went out, like, three years ago?!

Cavs GM Chris Grant, luckily (and wisely) avoided having to wear the outfit when his knickers were determined to be too short in the old “inseam” – rendering the 6’-5” Grant immobile on the course.

Chris is nothing if not a team player, but as any golfer can tell you: It's easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat. But the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat.

Golf isn’t even a sport, and yet we’ve given it seven whole paragraphs in today’s N.A.T.L.. As you can imagine, that allows almost no time to talk about this week’s events that shook the world – literally.

On this past Tuesday afternoon, rumors of a breakup between Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith caused a 5.8 magnitude earthquake which shook the entire East Coast. Strong tremors were recorded in Washington, D.C., New York City and even at the Firestone Country Club in Akron – where at least one member of the Cavs front office reportedly fudged their knickers. (Luckily, Chris Grant had a spare set.)

We also won’t have time to cover the massive uprising in Libya, where – by the time you read this – deposed dictator Muammar Gadhafi could well be in the clutches of the rebels or the U.N. His people will judge him when the time comes. All I want from a U.S. perspective is Abdelbaset al-Megrahi back in custody and those autographed 8 ½ x 11’s of Condoleeza Rice back.

I wish we had time to cover those topics, but alas, we do not.

I’m not going to let it get me down, though. My horoscope in today’s Plain Dealer said to be optimistic. So I’m going to “grip it and rip it” – as my golfer buddies like to say. All you have to do is sit back and soak up the remainder of today’s News … Around … The … League


The young Browns were no match for man-eating Andy Reid and his Eagles.
Brown-Out– One thing die-hard Browns fans can count on is that you can NEVER predict what our beloved Pumpkinheads might do from one week to the next.

That was the case once again on Thursday night when colossal Andy Reid and the Eagles put a pin in the Browns balloon – holding Colt McCoy and his shorthanded squad scoreless in the first half in Philly.

But that doesn’t mean that the Browns performed poorly. A pair of questionable calls put points on the board for the Eagles and likely cost Cleveland a few. And there were plenty of bright spots for the Browns – led by enormous Phil Taylor from Baylor, who decimated Philadelphia’s offensive line throughout the first two quarters.

I don’t think anyone who’s watched the first three preseason games thinks that the Brownies will be cupcakes this season. They still have plenty of holes to fill, but pockets of talent are beginning to avail themselves with one preseason game to go.

They definitely won’t be boring.

Reunited, And It Feels So Good – I wasn’t even going to write about the Indians in today’s N.A.T.L.

It’s not that I’d given up on them. It’s just that I predicted that they’d sweep the Tigers last weekend and, instead, they were stoot-slapped in three straight by the Motor City Kitties. And they haven’t fared much better against the Mariners this week.

But then news broke that Jim Thome – the Tribe’s all-time home run leader with 334 – would be reunited with the squad with which he spent his first 12 seasons.

Thome, who’s expected to bat cleanup in his first game back – Friday night’s matchup with the Royals – hit his 600th career home run just days ago for the Twinkies. He joins a scuffling club that finds itself 6 ½ games behind Detroit in the Central Division with 35 games to play.

Coincidentally, 65 of Thome’s 601 homers have come against the Tigers – his most against any one opponent.

I cannot yet call Jim Thome “my homey.” I’m still a little sore from his departure in 2003. But I’m sure if he cracks a couple of taters into the Davey Trees this weekend, I’d be willing to forgive and forget.

And you know what it says in the Bible about not forgiving people? It’s against it.


How’s that, folks? A little Bible-learnin’ to wrap up this week’s News … Around … The … League.

I realize that we covered the big three sports like we do every single week. And I know that Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

But what the cuss does Ralph Waldo Emerson know about the wide, wide world of Cleveland sports? Phil Taylor from Baylor would smush Ralph Waldo Emerson!

Maybe I’ll try to mix things up next Friday. Maybe next week we’ll talk some NASCAR or U.S. Open or even recap this Saturday’s English Premier League matchup between Aston Villa and Wolverhampton. (Not bloody likely.)

We might even talk about the Little League World Series.

This past week, I saw a kid crying after his team won. That’s completely unacceptable.

I don’t approve of Cavaliers Graphics Manager Mark Podolak dogging the young’ns for crying after a loss, but I’d have to join him when it comes to victorious waterworks. I fully understand the Agony of Defeat. But crying at that age should be exclusively reserved for the death of a pet.

If the baby Brownies didn’t cry while gigantic Andy Reid and his Eagles were whipping them on Thursday night, neither should you.

As for you full-grown readers, have yourselves a healthy and happy weekend. Enjoy Jim Thome’s return to the Browns and the last few days before Labor Day Weekend. I’ll check back in exactly seven days. In the meantime, will you please …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

Shine on,
The Optimist