The Optimist

by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor
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Good afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m a garden-variety Optimist, and you readers have dialed in to the weekly labor of love that I like to call News … Around … The … League.

Last week, I’ll admit that I was walking on a little too much sunshine. I did my touchdown dance on the five-yard line. I was a premature celebrator.

I’m going to take a more measured approach today. I don’t want to leave you readers all lathered up like I did last week. Today, we’ll do some birthdays, talk some Canton Charge, do a Brownies-Texans prediction, pause for a Moment of Silence™ and try to get you nerds on the road without marrying a Kardashian out of sheer off-season boredom.

Customarily, this is the part of the column where I tell you what earth-shattering events have occurred on this date – November 4. But I checked, and throughout history, nothing did.

Luckily, we’re armpit-deep with celebrity birthdays – a group which would make for one hell of a party if collectively assembled.

"Alright, alright, alright."

Said shindig might include artist Robert Maplethorpe, hip hop magnate Sean Combs, Korean War coquette Loretta “Hot Lips” Swit, former Tribe second baseman Carlos Baerga, free-spirited actor Matthew McConaughey and a pair of women who’ve definitely seen the inside of the Lincoln Bedroom – Laura Bush and Markie Post.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t wish a Happy 50th Birthday to little Ralph Macchio, who’s managed to stay gold after all these years. Happy Birthday, Karate Kid! (Now go paint my fence.)

The beauty of November 4 being light on historical significance is that, for once, we’re on schedule like an atomic freaking clock.

If we so desired, we could spend all the time in the world on Republican candidates gone wild or the Conrad Murray trial or Occupy Oakland’s kooky shenanigans.

But as long as we’ve got the extra space, let’s utilize it the way any self-respecting website, radio or TV station would: with a nice P.S.A.

Today’s Public Service Announcement focuses on the inspirational men’s health movement known as “Movember.”

You might have read or heard about Movember through any number of sources, including the Lake Erie Monsters website – where fans are being encouraged to vote on which Monsters player will grow the greatest mustache.

Let’s back up a second.

“Movember” is an event conceived in 1999 by a group of Australian men from the southern city of Adelaide.

It grew down under – so to speak – and since 2004, the Movember Foundation charity has hosted events to raise awareness and funds for men's health issues – such as prostate and testicular cancer – in countries like Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Spain, the United Kingdom, Israel, South Africa, and the States.

The rules for Movember participants – which vary from country to country but contain these basic tenets – are simple:

1. You must begin the Movember clean-shaven.
2. There is to be no joining of the mustache to the sideburns (considered a beard).
3. There is to be no joining of the handlebars to your chin (considered a goatee).
4. Soul-patches, ticklers and chin-turds are considered acceptable.

Secretly, every male of the species longs to grow a mustache. But he fears doing so at the risk of becoming a social pariah. And very few of us have gotten away with one unscathed, as they are reserved for an exclusive few men, e.g. cowboys, porn stars, ruthless dictators, Eric Wedge, cops, dudes from Pittsburgh, Mike Ditka and cops from Pittsburgh.

Around the offices of The Q – aside from the Monsters, of course – only my friend, Graphics Manager Mark Podolak, is rocking the ‘stache for the Movember cause. In reality, he really just likes growing a mustache. I’m sure he’s down with Prostate Cancer Awareness, but he’d grow one for Anything Awareness. It helps him channel his inner-police officer.

As for you ladies, I’m not sure how you can participate in the Movember movement, other than allowing your man to don the silly whiskers and still give him some lovin’-touchin’-squeezin’. Or you can skip waxing your own little ‘stache for the next 26 days. If your man gives you any mess, just tell him, ‘Hey, it’s for YOUR prostate, buddy!’


I feel better with a little Public Service Announcement in the bank. That’s good energy.

Let’s proceed onward and upward, covering the wide world of sports in this week’s installment of News … Around … The … League …

The Charge Continues – Like most of you readers, I was down at the Edgewood Community Center in Canton for Thursday night’s NBDL Draft.

And if you’re a basketball fan like me, you were glad just to see an extra-tall dude wearing sunglasses indoors.

That was the case when the Canton Charge made their first-ever draft pick, tabbing 6-8 forward Tyrell Biggs, who played his college ball at Pitt. He’s also spent some time – like Charge coach Alex Jensen and likely several of his teammates – playing overseas.

With new Charge GM Wes Wilcox running the show – flanked by former Cavalier Ira Newble and first-ever Charge player, Keith McLeod – it was a genuinely exiting experience. As the picks were being announced over a conference call, Charge selections were being listed on a dry-erase board at the front of a stage, with fans applauding each choice.

Rounding out Canton’s initial Draft, the Charge selected guard T.J. Campbell, swingman Tyrone Kent from Toledo, forward Travis Franklin of Colorado State in the sixth and guard Harry Marshall of Indiana State in round six. To close out the night, Canton chose forward Jonathan Blake from Texas Wesleyan in the eighth and final round.

As I’ve said before, something good is brewing down in Canton, and it’ll be fun. Be there on November 25th.

Dog Day Afternoon – Speaking of things that I’ve written on several occasions: What is Rule 1 about our beloved Cleveland Browns?

Infallible as death, taxes and the Carlin Rule about driving behind an old man in a hat – is the stone-cold commandment that the Browns will never, ever, EVER do what you expect them to.


As of this writing, tailback Peyton Hillis could be sidelined once again with a nagging hambone injury. Montario Hardesty is on the shelf and Brandon Jackson’s been on IR since Training Camp. The Madden Curse has decimated the entire position.

I have made my feelings abundantly clear for years. Josh Cribbs should handle the ball as much as possible. If it’s in the capacity of running back – so be it. The Golden Flash has been – and continues to be – the team’s top playmaker. Give this man the football – repeatedly.

The Texans are 3-0 in their division, as their improved defense is ranked 3rd in the league, holding their last two opponents under 200 yards of total offense. Houston’s backfield duo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate have combined for 373 yards rushing over the past two weeks. The Browns duo of Thomas Clayton and Chris Ogbonnaya have 125 yards combined yards over the course of their careers.

What does all this mean? It means that I’m breaking out my first Guaranteed Win of this Browns season. There’s no way they can beat the Texans in Texas this Sunday.

That’s exactly why they’re going to. Cleveland 23, Houston 20. OT

So let it be written. So let it be done.

One More Moment –In some ways, its has been a tough year for the Wine and Gold.

Of course, anything that’s happened on the court can (and will) be overcome. What has caused the organization real pain is the loss of some of its cherished fraternity – several members who’ve passed on this year, namely Robert “Tractor” Trailer, Mel Turpin and the great Mike Mitchell.

Another member of that fraternity is Lorenzen Wright, who would’ve been celebrating his 36th birthday today. The former Cavaliers big man, who played with the squad in 2008-09, was killed in July, 2010. He left his ex-wife’s house on the morning of July 18 and his body was found in a nearby wooded area 10 days later.

Lorenzen was the 7th overall pick of the 1996 Draft and played in 793 games in 13 seasons. But I remember him being a good guy with a big laugh. He loved his family. He loved his Rottweiler, whose full name was “Karl Von Haus Neubrend.” He loved his fraternity buddy in Atlanta who handmade his suits, including the Santa Claus-red one he crafted for Lorenzen for a Christmas Day game against Miami.

Lorenzen Wright was a good guy and a good Cavalier. And nobody deserves go like he went. For the former big man and all his Wine and Gold brethren who fell this year, please closeth thy cakeholes and removeth thy hats and/or hairpieces as we pause for this Moment of Silence™

Thank you.

That there wraps up another News … Around … The … League, my mustachioed little mates. Enjoy some college football and the Browns victory. Enjoy your family and friends. Sleeping in. The autumn leaves in the Metroparks.

And remember to designate a driver if you’re planning on diving head-first into the warm embrace of Christmas Ale. Too much of that golden goodness will make you throw rocks at your own house.

Peace be with you, knuckaheads. Please do your best to …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

Su hermano,
The Optimist