Sunday, November 27, 2011

LeBron The Philanthropist?

LeBron returns to Cleveland. (Joshua Gunter/The Plain Dealer)
Last week, it was announced the LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony hooked up with Google+ for what they were calling the Homecoming Tour. The idea is that these guys will travel to four cities - their hometowns and woo the NBA starved fans. The best part is that the proceeds of the tour will go to each of the players foundations.

There are those out there that think this is a good thing, that LeBron is doing something positive with his vast wealth.

I however, am skeptical.

I'm not going to quibble on what "proceeds" mean. Since he has seemingly now found a philanthropic soul, I'm going to assume that he is paying for his own travel, the travel of his posse, food, hotels and entertainment.

Like I said, I'm skeptical. 

Before I continue, and in the interest of full disclosure, I am a fundraiser by profession. I try to get people to part with their money for a charitable cause. Since I am a fundraiser, I know that the reasons that people give to charity are as varied as the charities themselves. I was at a recent conference and a new study showed that the number of people that give for purely altruistic reasons is something like 5%.

People give because they feel the need to help others, they want to make a difference in the world, they want to feel better about themselves, their PR agent tells them get the idea.

I am skeptical of LeBron's motives because in general, he is not a philanthropist. Let's take the situation called the Decision. Before that event, LeBron had not had any sort of relationship with the Boys and Girls Club in Cleveland. I can't think of any charity that he supported during his time in Cleveland. This is the guy that just for example in 2008, made $40.5 million.

But then he found God or a new PR team and used a bunch of kids as human shields to deflect the slings of questions on his integrity while making his decision to move his family to South Beach.

I found his decision to use a bunch of kids as a prop despicable. The ad money from his venture with ESPN went to the clubs instead of him. Yay. Good job. I would have been more impressed if he said he was going to match it with his own funds.

That would have been something.

Now, this brings us back to the current day. This Homecoming Tour, charity basketball games with the ticket sales going to each player's own foundation. Games that are nothing more than street pick up games at NBA prices. And for this, all should be forgotten and forgiven?

Friends, I am not impressed. Maybe I would be more impressed if the players took their tour to Iraq and played for the troops, maybe bringing them something from home.

With no publicity.

But does my opinion matter? Should I question LeBron's motives? Ultimately, if by this fool and his friends playing a little game in front of a crowd of suckers, helps make the world a better place, so be it. If the charities are well run and give back to the community, good for them. 

I don't have to like it. These guys don't need my approval to do whatever it is that they do.

Because, at the end of the day, I'm going to wake up tomorrow and have the same life I had when I woke up today.

And so will they.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Turkey Day

The ever so famous Peanuts gang.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Things I am thankful for:

My friends and family

The new job

Cookie Monster cupcakes

The new kittens that purr and purr when I say hello

Cooking shows so I don't have to

A well poured Guinness

And this clip from WKRP. If you can watch it and not laugh, you are dead inside.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I'm An Angry Cleveland Fan

I am so very, very angry right now.

Maybe I'm angry because I had to get a chicken pox shot AND a flu shot that hurt like a son of a bazooka.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm angry because I'm sick and tired of Cleveland teams losing.

Hmm...I think it is the Cleveland teams losing thing.

Yup...that is indeed it.

I'm tired of the Browns losing.

I'm tired of the Cavs losing.

I'm tired of the Indians losing.

I was at the Cavs game where we finally broke our losing streak last year. We had lost 26 games in a row and when it looked like we were going to break that streak, the Q arena was shaking from the very foundation. If someone just dropped in the game, they would have thought that the excitement for the NBA championship. The reality was we had finally won a game after losing 26 consecutive games. 

It is a stabbing pain in my chest when I think about all of the heartbreak that this city has endured by the hands of our beloved sports teams.

I think it all started with my love of Super Joe Charboneau, later known as Crazy Joe Charboneau. He was the start of a long line of Indians heartbreak. I remember being madly in love with him and even getting a full size Joe Charboneau bat at bat day at the old stadium. Of course, he faded out quickly with stories of him opening beer bottles with his eye socket. Just my luck.

When the Indians made it to the World Series, I was living in Tennessee at the time.  To my great misfortune, the tribe was playing at the same time as the UT/Bama game. I was at the only sports bar in town and I had to bribe the bartender to put the game on. At one point during the game, a very large man stood between me and the TV. He looked at me, then the TV, then me again. He lifted up his 'Bama jersey to scratch his large, hairy belly and asked me, ""Whutchadoin?" After taking a moment to decipher what he asked, I told him I was watching the World Series of Baseball. His response was a confused look and some muttering.

That is what my expereince has been as a Cleveland fan.

Living in Indianapolis, home of the SuperBowl Champion Indianapolis Colts, it was difficult. Just finding a place to watch the game was a challenge. To top it off, I worked in Colts stadium. At the end of every game, I had to walk past the visitor's locker room, with all of the media and NFL network guys. One day in the dead of winter, I walked down with my Browns hat on. An NFL network guy mocked me. I barked at him.

From then on out, every game I walked down there I was greeted to shouts of "Hey Cleveland, looks bad again, the score is..."  I have received a great deal of sympathy over the years, like when Phil Dawson's field goal against Baltimore was challenged.

As  a little kid, I begged and pleaded with my parents for a Browns Kardiac Kids shirt. My elementary school sold them, with the school name on the back. I had to agree to spending the entire summer picking the weeds out of our brick walkway for that shirt. That summer, you could hear me muttering half way down the street.

I thought that this year would be different.

Sadly, not so much.


Then the whole LeFoolio fiasco.

I can't express my anger/hatred/frustration any better than this video and this post.

LeBron watched the city of Cleveland make a fool of itself begging for him to honor us with the consideration of staying in Ohio.

Before my blog readers from outside of Ohio get upset about Clevelanders hating all those that leave, keep in mind, we are building a statue for Jim Thome. Omar Vizquel returns to standing ovations.

There are very few things that I know for certain, but I can promise you that LeBron will never have a statue in Cleveland during my lifetime.  He is a different story.

I'm just so sick and tired of caring more than the players. I'm tired of people asking why I'm a Cleveland fan.

I'll always be a fan because this is my home. This is where my heart is. This is what I grew up with.

The litany of excuse is nothing more than a running joke.

Every year it is the same thing.

Injuries...I don't care. Rub some dirt on it.

New coach...hmm...still don't care.

New playbook...well...still not caring. Maybe we need to recruit scholars.

New players...I thought these guys were pros, don't care yet.

So and so was hurt...again...Really? What you did last time? DON'T do that again. No sympathy here. Is Cindy from Accounting has the flu, someone else has to step up. 

Contract disputes... I still have to work, so why can't you? These guys make more money in a game than I do in a year. Not caring yet.

I'll always be a Cleveland fan, but just once I would love to not end a season with, "Well, there is always next year."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Photo Fun - Peyton Hillis Edition

This is a squirrel.

This is a squirrel with a camera.

This is a ridiculous picture, much like the topic of today's photo fun picture.

What in the name of Elmo is going on with Peyton Hillis?

I took this pic of Hillis turning training camp.
Peyton Hillis came to Cleveland from a trade with the Broncos. In Denver, he was underutilized and was, if you will pardon the expression, a nobody. Hillis arrives in Cleveland and had an amazing breakout season. His "aw shucks thank ya ma'am" attitude resonated with Browns fans. Maybe we were just over the fiasco known as LeFoolio, but Hillis quickly became a fan favorite.

Stories started circulating about his workout ritual of strapping himself to a pick up truck and pulling it through his Arkansas neighborhood. Through fan votes, he was selected as the Madden cover boy.  According to espn, it took a total of more than 12,000,000 votes throughout the competition to get him that honor.

At training camp, Hillis was quickly mobbed by the fans. In the pic I took, he was pleading with the fans to not push and shove and he would sign as many things as he could (like my football). There was a feeling of the Browns being a contender. Maybe not Superbowl champions, but at least we were going to have a decent season.

Then, Hillis got strep throat. On the advice of his agent, he sat out. Fans everywhere cringed. Rumors started to surface...was he sick or faking it as a contract ploy. I personally think he was sick. I also think Hillis is less than Media savvy.

It was at that point that the crazy train jumped the tracks. Was he hurt or wasn't he? Were the Browns benching him to teach him a lesson (see more here)? Allegedly he went to Arkansas to marry his snuggle bunny when his team mates thought he should be rehabbing his strained hamstring. Then the blow up of all blowups...he was rumored to have blown off trick or treating with kids in Slavic Village.

LeCharles Bentley of for Browns fame and a local radio host announced on his show and via twitter that Hillis dogged out a bunch of kids...uncool.

Over 100 people shared his tweet on their page to all of their friends. Then hundreds more after that. With nothing else going on in Cleveland sports, the Tribe off-season and no NBA season, sports talk radio was all over this like sprinkles on a doughnut. Later, after much of the day was spent vilifying Hillis, it turns out he was never confirmed for the event, and it was not even the charity's event but it was Bentley's. At that point, the damage was complete.

Hillis went from the penthouse to the outhouse. More rumors are swirling about the effect the drama is having on the team as a whole. People are rallying around him for a new contract...there are no "pay the man" t-shirts proudly worn as they were with Josh Cribbs.

If the game were at home, would fans set his jersey on fire they way they did with Braylon Edwards? I'm certainly not calling for that.

I just want the man to play football.

I want him to play football and not be a part of the Cleveland sports fail reel.

Edwards jersey on fire in the munilot.