Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jim Tressel - Good Coach, Bad Role Model

Jim Tressel. Photo:AP
Ohio State Buckeyes fans everywhere are picking sides...who is Jim Tressel? Is he a caring coach and a  man of character and was simply unaware of NCAA infractions by his players or is he a man focused on winning at any cost?

To the public, Tressel is a man that has been the only role model that many of his players have in their lives. Most college students today come from single parent families or families where both parents are working, with little time for their kids, so Tressel filled that void. Tressel has been portrayed as a church going man that had his team spending time learning about character as well as the OSU playbook.

For a man that has been so involved with his players, guiding them down the field and on the right path of life, he seemed strangely unaware of what was going on around him.

Hang with me a second Buckeye faithful. For several years, I worked as an administrator in higher education. I constantly had students in and out of my office. In working with them, I got to know them. One thing about college kids, if they think they can get an inch from you, they will come back in the evening with their buddies and a steam roller. I find it hard to believe the Buckeye players were any different. I don't for a second believe that Tressel let those guys run him over. He knew these guys. He knew their friends, their families, if they had girlfriends, probably what kind of car they drove. So for him to not know that they were rolling around in new cars that they couldn't afford or in new full sleeve tattoos (which can cost in the $1,000s) is ridiculous.

For Tressel to not know he was sending his players to meet with athletic boosters that were known for breaking the NCAA rules is an absurd assumption.

Tressel was to smart for that. The OSU fundraising department would have given Tressel every last detail on every donor to the program. Tressel gives a donor a handshake and asks about his kids, and boom there goes an extra zero on the donor check. 

The argument may be made that the student athletes were only getting a piece of what is owed to them. The OSU, Nike and the NCAA making significant amounts of money because of their talents. That argument however doesn't cut it. The athletes are being "paid" with a free college education. Free room and board. Free books. Free sweatshirts. Are they getting paid what they deserve? It doesn't matter. How many times were we all in a job that we were underpaid at? How many of us had bosses that would snag your fantastic idea and get promoted for it while you had to stay late and clean out the communal fridge?

 I don't for an instant believe that Tressel was some bumbling old man that was taken for a ride by his team. I think he was the one driving the car.

Ultimately, Tressel resigned in what I like to think was his last lesson to his team. If you make a mistake, take responsibility for it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Like Math, Writing is Hard

Sometimes writing is easy.  There are days where everything you come across inspires you and the words just tumble out of your head and bounce across the keyboard. Other times, something will inspire you and all you can do is the laundry.

For the day gig, I have to write occasionally, but with deadlines, it gets done. It may not always be a masterpiece, but it gets done, because I don't want to end up on the cheese line. For my blog, it is a different story. If I tell myself I am going to post on Monday and it doesn't make it up until Thursday, meh. No big deal.

But it is.

I want to write a blog that people want to read. I want people to check back and excitedly read my misadventures in the Muni Lot or about my giddiness over the Cleveland Indians bringing back pickle relish for the hot dogs. I'm that way about reading other blogs. It's the modern equivalent of the newspaper column.

Sometimes I don't get my blog posted because my mom wants me to watch Dancing with the Stars with her *shudders.*  Sometimes I'm just tired from work and I can't find a quiet place to write. Sometimes I can't find the perfect picture to open the post. Sometimes I find a perfect picture but can't figure out what to write. Sometimes I worry that what I'm saying is stupid or uninteresting.

I tell myself that each post needs to be perfect, that each post can stand on its own as an example of my best work. That is a silly idea of course, but it's an easy excuse.

Time to post and do the laundry.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

NFL Lockout: The Greedy, The Ignorant and The Hero

From the wonders of Google, Brady and Manning begging for your sympathy.
As the NFL Lockout rolls on, the sympathy of the fans is becoming non-existent. Not that the players had a lot to begin with. It takes an enormous set of cojones and an ego the size of Donald Trump for the players to ask for the support of the fans.You have a guy like Peyton Manning that is making more in an afternoon than many of his fans make in an entire year and we are supposed to feel bad for him? Every time one of these guys whines about having to pay their own health insurance, I want to kick them in their enormous cojones.
I do feel bad for the rookies. These guys are missing out on crucial training not only in the sport, but in NFL programming as in how to manage your money and how not act like a jackass.

Which brings me to the Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis. In an interview with ESPN he said the following:
"Do this research if we don't have a season -- watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game." 
Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis
Lewis is claiming that without the Sunday sport, it will become crimeageddon across America. The players will have nothing else to do but break the law. And the fans. Great googily moogily the fans! Instead of getting up at 6 am and drinking Four Loko and a case of beer before the game, they are going to spend their Sundays honing their criminal tendencies. Or oh my goodness, maybe spend the time with their families...or *shudders* sleep in.

A few days ago, I saw a glimmer of hope across the sea of moronica.
J.T. Thomas and Joslyn Levell getting ready for prom.
J. T. Thomas, a soon-to-be rookie for the Chicago Bears made the dream of a 14 year old West Virginia teen come true. Joslyn Levell is often confined to a wheel chair with spina bifida. It is challenging enough to be a teenager, and I would think being in a wheel chair would add to that. Let's face it, kids are jerks and anything that makes you different from the crowd makes you chum in the waters of high school.

The bus driver, Jake Tennent, knew that the teen was a huge Bears fan, and wanted to arrange a meeting between the two since Thomas' little brother rode the same bus. Thomas rode the bus with the kids to school  and Levell told him about her tough week. All of the boys she had asked to the prom had declined. Thomas signed a few things for her and let her cry for a little bit and then he did something unexpected in this time of me me me. 

After clearing it with the powers that be, the Bears rookie asked if he could escort Levell to her prom. She excitedly accepted. He rented a black Chrysler and showed up with a corsage and bouquet of roses. At the dance, Levell got to smile and show everyone that yes, she was telling the truth, her prom date was the former Mountaineer. When asked about the evening she said,
"The first thing one of the boys who was mean to me came up to me and said, 'I'm sorry I didn't believe you,' " Levell said. "It was soooo exciting. I'm just so excited to go to school and see what everyone has to say."
I don't know about you, but on this soggy, dreary Cleveland day, I have a little bit of my faith in humanity restored. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Roll Tribe

Grady Sizemore's equipment at Spring Training.
In March, I went to Arizona to take in Indian's Spring Training. When I returned home, the one question without fail that everyone had for me was, "How does the team look?"

To me, the Tribe looked amazing. Lots of great hits. Great games. But more importantly, there was a positive attitude floating around. There was a real excitement with the players and the fans. Travis Hafner looked like the big brother, seriously watching the game and practices, always talking to the coaches. Grady Sizemore was itching to hop in the game.

But, every year I say that.

Every year I tell myself *this* is the year. This is finally the year that we go all the way. And then, we don't. And I move on to the next team, and go through it all again. This is the year, I tell myself. This is our year. And then it isn't. And I move on to the next team.

But this year...this year is different.

And then Grady slid into 2nd base and hurt his knee. To which I said, "crap."

And then Travis got hurt doing I'm not entirely sure what. To which I said, " crapballs."

And then...then something different happened. This time the Indians didn't fall apart. This time, even though star players have been injured, the Tribe has kept on rolling. Other players have stepped up and played hard.

The Tribe is the number one club right now. The first team to win 30 games. The Tribe is in first place.


The. Cleveland. Indians. Are. In. First. Place.

And to that my readers, I can only say one thing...Roll Tribe!

Monday, May 23, 2011

What is old disappears...

Building on Broadway Ave. in Cleveland.
Some of you may know that since I returned to Cleveland, I work in Slavic Village. It has vastly changed from when I was a kid. It has turned into the type of place that I consider whether or not I should leave the building for lunch for safety reasons.  In the past 6 months or so, within a 2 block radius of my job there has been one murder (I missed being in the crossfire by about 10 minutes), 3 shootings (including one during lunchtime in the Mickey D's drive thru), a carjacking and at least 3 muggings. Oh, and an arson.

Before we get to the arson, the one thing that you, dear reader, may not know is I have a love of old architecture. I love old buildings if for nothing else than their stories. Looking at a building, I wonder of who lived there, how proud they were of their store front, those sorts of things.

On my way to work every morning, I passed this building, and even before someone tried to burn it down, I was intrigued. If it were in a different neighborhood, I would be paying entirely too much to live in it. Let's be honest here, I probably couldn't afford to live in it.

After returning from Christmas, I saw that someone had tried to firebomb the building. Maybe even shot up the windows. Whatever they did, they were successful, so that section of the building was torn down. It happened so quickly that I didn't properly kodak the moment.

What was left was an entirely different building. I had no idea that the first one was an add on. You can faintly see on the left an old advertisement for tobacco I believe.

And then the bulldozers came. As they tore sections of the building down, you could see inside the apartments. Shelves stuck to the walls. Old signs. Even door numbers.

As each section was torn away, I couldn't help but watch. Looking into each room, seeing what they had become. Old cabinets and dressers left behind. Did the previous owners leave them on accident or did they just not care?

Throughout the process, this one guy was watering down sections as it was torn down, to hold down dust I presume. Interesting to note, this was the only guy on the site without a hard hat. Maybe he figured if a whole section came down on him, his head was the least of his worries. You can barely tell in this picture, but there is a busted out window stuck in the tree.

I was rooting on the tree to survive. Huge hunks of brick and window and wood rained on the little tree, but it took it like a trooper.

As the day progressed, so did the destruction. The modern equipment making it look simple to tear down what stood for over a century.

After another day or so, all of the pieces were gone. The basement was filled in and the trash was taken away. I predict in another month or so, no one will remember that there was a building here. 

Certainly no one will remember the little tree that was there.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Neti Pot - You Want To Put What Up Where?

Dr. Oz, the Oprah and the Neti Pot.
I have terrible allergy and sinus problems. As far back as I can remember I went to an E.N.T. guy. I've had so many sinus x-rays that at a rave, I just need to bop my head around instead of carrying one of those pesky glow sticks. I even went so far to have surgery for a deviated septum, which on a side note, was the most horrifying surgery *ever* (at one point I had blood coming out of my eyes. MY EYES. *shudders*).

But still, my sinuses are clogged and uncooperative.

Lately, I've been at my wits end. I can't breathe, I go through an ungodly amount of Kleenex to no avail. So, on behalf of myself and everyone around me, I decided to try the neti pot.  Basically a neti pot is a little tea pot looking thing that you fill with warm salt water. Then, you pour water in one nostril and it comes out the other. Winner winner chicken dinner your sinuses are clear and you are happy. Housewives everywhere picked one up after it was on an Oprah show.

Umm, yeah.

Before you try anything like this, please for crying out loud, read the directions. If you do it wrong you can end up with water in your ears, lungs or at the very least swallow some really gross water.

 After the internet informed me that the neti pot would solve all of my troubles and after watching videos on it (yes, it was gross), I wandered down to the drug store and bought a neti pot.

Just like the pictures (and no, I'm not going to post one of me using it), it looked like a little tea pot. I cleaned it thoroughly, per the instructions. Then, I took some warm bottled water, filled the pot up and poured in the little packet of salt that was included. I shook it up and then stared.

And stared.

Looking at the pot, the room got hazy as I remembered elementary school and the class clown. He used to shove spaghetti up  one nostril and pull it out the other. He was a big hit. Of course, this was the same kid in 4th grade that shoved so many crayons up his nose I think they jabbed his brain.

I picked up the little plastic pot and stared at it some more, with the Thanksgiving Verizon commercial playing in the background of my head. You know the one, where the woman calls someone on the phone and is looking at a turkey, "You want me to put what in the what what?"

I leaned over the sink and tilted my head to the side and tipped the pot in my nostril. It was disgusting. I lasted a couple of seconds with water flowing out of my nose in dribbles. Then I tried the other. Same thing. I must have went through 10 paper towels, salt water flowing out of my nose. At one point, I thought it my eyes were going to shoot out salt water.

I'm not entirely sure what I expected. After all of those disgusting cleanse internet ads, I was under the impression really gross things were going to splatter everywhere.

Thankfully, that wasn't the case.  After a half hour or so, I realized that I could breathe. Oh my.

I think I'll give it a few more tries, but I'll go on record and say that the ick factor is overshadowed by me being able to breathe.

The choices you make as an adult.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Volunteering at the Cleveland Marathon

Volunteers setting up the water station.
There is no better way to spend a cold and dreary Sunday than to cheer on those that are motivated. Staying in bed and napping would admittedly be a good choice, but so was volunteering for the Cleveland Marathon at a water stop. I got up at 3 am, which in itself was strange. I'm used to coming home at that time, never getting up at that ungodly hour. I was out the door a little after 4 am with mom in tow (if you follow me on twitter, you will know she hates Boston Rob and really hates LeBron) we drove to pick up my aunt. Volunteering was a family affair for this event. We made it to our assigned spot on the route by 5:30 am.

The weather was terrible. The fog was so thick and the dampness hung in the air. The chill went right through you. Looking down the deserted road, I was waiting for a pack of zombie runners attacking out of the fog. I clearly had not had enough caffeine.

We got right to work though, on the sides of the Shoreway setting up tables with rows and rows of water and powerade. Then we put cardboard on top of those cups and layered with more water and powerade. These ladies had the system down. There were several scary moments though when cars somehow made it on to the closed Shoreway and buzzed by us. I felt like I was the tower in Top Gun.

The runners slowly started to come towards us. We shouted if we had water or powerade and they could grab and chug what they wanted. At this point, I thought this was a piece of cake.

And then...
It was a swarm. I would grab 5 cups of water at a time and as soon as I got to the line they were gone. Yikes. The runners were amazingly polite. I'm not sure what I expected, but there were numerous runners that shouted out "Thank you for volunteering! You guys are awesome!" I guess if it were me, I would be gasping for breath, so I wouldn't be shouting anything to anyone.

And then a funny thing happened. The line for the porta potty reached Muni-Lot proportions.  It got a little dicey with runners running around the potty line. One poor guy hit the ground and I thought for sure he was going to get trampled. Thankfully he popped back up and kept on running.

Almost as quickly as they came by, they were gone, leaving a wake of empty cups and tossed sweatshirts behind. We cleaned up using brooms and snow shovels and by 8:30 am, we were on our way to breakfast.

Afterwards, I treated the family to a place called Gabe's that had the most amazing peanut butter pancakes on the planet. This place was well worth getting up early for.

All in all, it was a great morning. Early. But still, a great morning.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

LeBron Once Again Enrages Me

Game 5. Take 2. (Robert Duyos, Sun Sentinel.)

This has been a busy week in LeBron making me crazy/angry/frustrated.

He had an eventful start of the week by mumbling "That's retarded" in response to a question posed to Wade. He then apologized for using the "R" word, which I have to believe was brought on by a phone call from a high up in the NBA. The NBA has participated in a program with the Special Olympics to remove the "R" word from everyday vocabulary. If LeBron were smart, he might include the situation on an episode of the LeBrons, because it might help a little kid out there, but, as we all know, LeBron is about LeBron.

Ouch. I know. Harsh.

But true.

This week was also the one year anniversary of Quitness, otherwise known as Game 5, or the day LeBron gave up.

It must have been like Groundhog Day for LeBron. The Playoffs. The Celtics. Game 5. But this time, this time my friends, he made the shots. He wanted to win. And this time, he did.

This time there were no left-handed shots, no ouchie elbow. This time LeBron gave his best effort.

And then another apology. Sorta kinda anyway. He apologized for the way things panned out. But he also said he couldn't do it alone against the Celtics.

I don't buy it. I just want him to admit that he quit.