The Optimist

Click here to contact the Optimist
Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m the one they call “Optimist,” and, by my estimation, we are set to embark upon the 18th episode of our off-season Quest for Fun – commonly known as News …Around … The … League.

Eighteen off-season episodes of News … Around … The … League is far too many. We’re red-lining it here, comrades.

N.A.T.L. was originally engineered simply to bridge the All-Optimist Awards Banquet with the Wine and Gold Scrimmage. But at times during this autumn of our discontent, it’s felt like we’re some sort of Cavaliers Donner Party – trudging aimlessly through a cold, desolate winter of false hope and eating one another.

But when I woke up on Friday morning, I felt a renewed sense of optimism. I felt some NBA good vibrations emanating from the east. The ladies know: there’s nothing worse than a premature celebrator. But my glass felt a little more half-full than usual when I woke up this morning.

Even today’s big birthday celebrations – aside from Austrian philosopher, Volker Zotz – are Cav-centric.

Look, there’s Lenny Wilkens – who turns 74-years-young today! The great Lenny is the winningest coach in Cavaliers history and presided over some of the franchise’s true halcyon days.

Born on the hard-scrabble streets of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, Lenny went on to win 1,332 games as a coach. He was a two-time All-American at Providence and a nine-time All-Star as an NBA point guard. He was named Coach of the Year in 1994. He was voted as one of the 50 Greatest Players of All-Time and is one of only three men inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and a coach.

After Lenny Wilkens’ first season, the Cavaliers made the playoffs in every year but 1991.

And over there it’s Randy Wittman, who turns 52 today. Coach Wittman – who had a highly-decorated collegiate career at Indiana – is not one of the winningest coaches in Cavaliers history and most certainly didn’t preside over the franchise’s halcyon days. But it wasn’t all his fault. How was he to know that his starting power forward – like the animal kingdom’s Tasmanian devil – could consume up to 40 percent of his own body weight in one sitting?

Being as high on life as I am today, I decided not to commemorate a pair of somber anniversaries.

The first is the anniversary of Black Monday, or the Wall Street Crash of 1929, which signaled the beginning of the 12-year Great Depression. The second is the passing of the Volstead Act, signaling the beginning of Prohibition – which banned the manufacture, sale, barter, transport, import, export, delivery and overall enjoyment of intoxicating beverages.

President Woodrow Wilson wisely attempted to veto the bill, but the House pushed the 18th Amendment through. Al Capone tried to save the nation, but Elliot Ness, James Bond’s bald uncle and some nerd from the IRS foiled him at every turn.

Sober and surly Americans finally came to their senses in 1933, passing the 21st Amendment to repeal the 18th Amendment – the only constitutional amendment to be repealed in its entirety.

Imagine the horror of trying to get through an entire weekend – let alone five consecutive weekdays – without being able to take the edge off. It makes me thankful for the wonderful world we live in, without narcs like Elliot Ness to tell us what’s what.

Today’s cops can focus on the real crime on the streets – like last week’s heinous assault of a 57-year-old woman in Plane Grove, Texas.

According to investigators, an altercation took place when the suspect was selling a frozen armadillo to the victim, who planned to eat the animal. The pair apparently began arguing over the price of the item when the man twice threw the armadillo at the woman. The animal first struck the woman in the leg and then in her chest, bruising her physically and, one would presume, emotionally.

The perpetrator is still on the loose. (The guy; not the armadillo.)

I’m certain the Plane Grove police have thrown a dragnet over the town, probably using a huge wall-map and some push-pins. Man-on-armadillo-on-woman violence is never cool, even in Texas. And I hope the local five-oh brings this low-life to justice.

I could give this story the proper time and attention it deserves – asking hard-hitting questions like ‘Does this fit capital crime statutes in Texas?’ or ‘What does armadillo taste like and is there any way to find out without actually eating it? or ‘What is the price of armadillo and how bad did she lowball him to make him throw it at her?’

But we just don’t have time.

Instead, it’s sports, sports and more sports (sans Les Levine) in another soul-searching installment of News … Around … The … League.

World Serious – Actually, I overstated that intro by one sport. We only have two: beginning with America’s Pastime.

The Rangers have bigger issues to worry about than the folks back home chucking disgusting armored mammals at each other. They’ve got a Cardinals squad with big, big mo on its side after an epic Game 6 on Thursday night.

Tony LaRussa’s scrappy Cardinals simply refused to give up and twice overcame two-run deficits in the 9th and 10th innings – winning it on a solo HR by hometown kid, David Freese in the bottom of the 11th. Items from the game were sent to Cooperstown the next morning.

By the time most of you read this, a new champ will be crowned. As I said last week, they’re so evenly-matched and likeable that I can’t pick a favorite. The Series has featured some great defense and clutch hitting. It’s been one of the best in recent memory.

Cool Ron Washington has the tall order of getting his guys back on track after Thursday’s heartbreaking loss. It won’t be easy in front of a surging crowd at Busch Stadium.

All that's left now is to sit back and enjoy the greatest word/numeral combination in the English language: GAME 7.

Teed-Off – It’s no secret that our football team needs a win this weekend. They’re inexperienced, but they’ve shown a lot of resolve, and I’m calling for a breakthrough as we head into the season’s homestretch.

Naturally, I’m speaking of the LFL’s Cleveland Crush, which faces off against a dangerous Philadelphia Passion team this Saturday night at The Q.

Our young ladies haven’t cracked the win column this year – falling in a pair of heartbreakers, against the Baltimore Charm and Tampa Breeze respectively. They lost both games by a total of three points.

But am I going to whine that ‘that’s typical Cleveland’? Of course not!

Instead, I’m going to encourage our girls to bust the Passion up on Saturday night. Marija “The Enforcer” Condric is averaging 89.5 yards per game on 7.1 yards per carry and wideout Theresa Petruziello snagged three TDs last week alone. Get the ball in these girl’s hands!

The next day, our beloved Brownies square off in a tough one against the resurgent Niners in San Francisco.

This will be a true test for our Pumpkinheads. And the question on everyone’s mind is: Will this be the week that Peyton Hillis breaks out?

I’ve gone on record predicting that he will, only to see him in civvies on the sideline. So I’m going to stay away from the Great White Rhino today.

Instead, I’m going to call for the Josh Cribbs Experience – as the former Golden Flash goes on a Golden Gate rampage, returning one kickoff for a touchdown, totaling over 100 yards receiving in relief of Mohammed Massoquoi and making two bone-jarring tackles of Theodore Ginn, Jr.

When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bay, the Browns stun the Niners – 19-17 – to improve to 4-3 for just the second time since their return in 1999.

Is that Browns prediction not real enough for you guys? Or is it so real that it just blew your mind?

You can work that out amongst yourselves. Me, Cheswick and the Chief are going out to celebrate the 21st Amendment and watch the World Series.

I’ll speak with you knuckaheads in precisely seven days. Please use every spare moment of that time attempting to …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

Fondest wishes,
The Optimist