Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hugging It Out NFL Style

DeMaurice Smith (L) watches as  Robert Kraft (C) gets a hug from Jeff Saturday (R) outside the NFL Players Association Headquarters in Washington July 25, 2011. Reuters.

Finally, the NFL owners and players were able to hug it out and put an end to the lockout. They were able to put aside their differences and come to an agreement about more money than the average fan will see in their lifetime.

NBA, please take notice.

On any given Sunday, watch and see that fans are fickle, changing their mind about their favorite player with a drop of a pass. But, we still show up and spend our money on tickets, parking, beverages, hot dogs, jerseys, etc. For many fans, going to a game is a sacrifice. I know hardcore fans that right now, can't afford to take their families to a game. So thankfully, the NFL and players got wise to the fact that in these days of economic uncertainty, your average fan does not have an ounce of sympathy for the average millionaire.

When you have a guy like Peyton Manning that makes $718,750 per *game* and you make $40,000 a *year* that my friends is a tough sell. The guy in the Dawg Pound would have to work for almost 18 years to make what Peyton makes in a game.

The days of Gordon Gecko and "Greed is good," are gone for the most part. People are tired of the wealthy whining about being broke. Or health insurance. My head almost popped off when NFL players were griping about health insurance. I'm sorry but until they had to decide between, heating their home, eating or getting their medicine, I don't want to hear it.

Everyday people depend on the NFL and players to make ends meet. The guy that hawks beer...the woman selling hot dogs...the vendors working training camps all over the country. That 7 bucks or so an hour makes a difference for them and their families.

Thank you NFL and players for getting your act together and realizing that.

Now, who is ready for some football?

Getty Images.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thank You Colt McCoy For Not Having Me Arrested

Colt McCoy & Phil Dawson signed football.
There are several types of autograph seekers. The first group are the fans that want any autograph of any player just to have them. These are the guys that have boxes and boxes of memorabilia and they just want everything signed. The second group is much like the first except they sell the autographs. They want very specific things signed in a very specific way by certain players. The last group are the true fans that just want a piece of their team.  I fall into that category. We have our favorites and are giddy with excitement to meet our favorite player and maybe get a signed ball or jersey.

If you follow me on twitter (@clevelandchick) you likely witnessed my quest to meet Phil Dawson, the kicker for the Cleveland Browns. He was fantastically nice, and signed my football as well as a picture.  He even chatted a little. It was a great fan experience.

Later, I caught word that Colt McCoy was hosting a football camp in Strongsville and I decided that I needed him to sign my football. Colt, then Bernie then Peyton and Josh. That's my plan.

As my mom said a million times before, you never know unless you ask. So, I asked Colt on Twitter if he would sign my ball.


HA!

I bought a new Sharpie paint pen (the best ever for signing footballs by the way) and headed off to Strongsville High School to get Colt's autograph.

Walking over the fields, I wasn't sure if I was even allowed to be there, so I tried my best to blend in and look like I knew where I was going. There were fields of kids, so finding Colt was not going to be an easy task. After a while of searching on my own, I found a few Browns fans by one field, but they weren't giving up Colt's location. I knew I had to be close.

I found Colt on the third field, posing for photos with some of the camp staff. The staff was shooting a little video with him as I clutched my football and shook my paint pen like my life depended on it. I had to be ready. I figured this would be my only shot, catching him between fields and not interrupting the program (since, it isn't about me after all).

My palms were sweaty as I waited. Colt walked in my direction with a guy I'll call The Handler. As Colt approached I blurted out, "Coltwouldyoupleasesignmyfootball?" I was as bad as Ralphie asking Santa for his Red Ryder BB Gun. Colt smiled and said sure, politely signing my ball as The Handler looked at me and said, "Wait a minute...you aren't with the camp..." Uh oh. It was at this moment that I was sure some horn would sound and I would be carted off by two large body guards and tossed into the parking lot.

I looked at The Handler and said. "No sir, I'm not, but I asked Colt on twitter if he would sign my ball and he was nice enough to say yes." The Handler chuckled and said, "He did huh?" Colt looked at me and laughed saying, "That was you?"

I'm not sure what he expected, but yes, that was me. I shook his hand and welcomed him to the team and off he went, to spend time with the rest of the kids at the camp.

Proudly, I walked around the camp, waiting for another glimpse of Colt. I ran into some friends that had kids at the camp and they wanted to know my secret for the autograph. It seems that it was announced that no autographs would be given to anyone other than campers. 

"Simple," I said. "I asked."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What Would You Do?

Yankees fan Christian Lopez caught Jeter's 3,000th hit.
Fans all over are asking themselves, "what would I do?"

Yesterday, Christian Lopez went to a Yankees game with tickets given to him by his girlfriend. At the game, he caught the 3,000th hit by Derick Jeter, which was a new MLB record. All Lopez wanted to do was give the ball to Jeter and meet him.

Wow.

The Yankees did step in and give the guy amazing tickets for the rest of the season and next. They gave him autographed bats and jerseys and he got to meet Jeter. But, what would you have done?

I don't think anyone can argue that what this guy did was the "right" thing. Jeter broke an amazing record this was a milestone in his career. The "right" thing to do would be to give him the ball.

But...

It is just a baseball after all. Some cork and cowhide. And while it would be cool for Jeter to have it, at the end of the day, it doesn't change his life one way or the other. But, for the guy that caught the ball, it could be a life changing event. Mark McGuire's 70th home run ball sold for $3,000,000. Three. Million. Dollars. Barry Bonds' 756th home run ball sold for $752,467. Early estimates put Jeter's ball at $250,000. Who knows what a final bid would be.

I don't know about you, but that kind of money would pay a lot of bills for me.  I think I would keep the ball. Maybe I say that because I'm not a Dereck Jeter or a Yankees fan. I might be singing a different tune if it were an athlete that I was a fan of. But that ball would change things for me and my family. That is something real to consider.Various news reports have snuck out pointing out that this guy has debt. Duh, we all do. Should Jeter offer the guy a reward or a finder's fee? Jeter's salary is almost $15 million, not counting endorsements. Would that be the "right" thing for Jeter to do?

But, there is a tiny part of me that thinks I would do the "right" thing. Of course, that is the same little voice that tells me not to speed and to go for the salad instead of the cheeseburger.

What would you do?

The Steve Bartman catch at the Cubs game. That ball went for almost $114,000. Not worth it. Photo: John Biever/SI    


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bandwagon Fans

The Ultimate Bandwagon Fan. (Amy Sancetta/Associated Press)
There are two categories of bandwagon fans. There are fans that only follow the home team when they are winning and there are those that follow "winning" teams. The fans that hop on board when the home team is winning, I can deal with only because it means they finally got on track. And, the more people that go to home games means the more people going to bars and restaurants - spending money. It frustrates me when I can't get tickets because of these people, but I can grumble and live with it.

The other bandwagon fans though...even though I shouldn't be bothered by them, I am. Look, if you have a connection to a team, maybe you grew up in the city or you followed so and so through college, that is one thing. But to be decked out in Yankees gear when you live in Shaker and have never even been out of Ohio, there is just something wrong with that.

For the record, kids are not included in my rant. Kids are still learning the game and they pick teams to follow by the pretty colors or the mascot. Or maybe they think a player is cute.

Dan Fouts, Hall of Fame Quarterback. Swoon.
And umm...there was a time that I fell into that category. I will admit the one time that I was something other than a Browns fan.
I was around 8 or 9 when I first saw Dan Fouts, and it was love at first sight. I had a little Chargers t shirt that I would wear when I faithfully watched my future husband every Sunday.

And I was 9.

But, I also loved Super Joe Charboneau. So I think it all evened out.

When I lived in Indianapolis, I would watch my Cleveland teams, but I would also watch Indy teams since I lived their for 10 years. If the Bears were on, I would watch them too. I may have a soft spot for the Colts (I lived in Tennessee the same time Peyton Manning played for UT), I'm always a Browns fan first.

Ultimately, it doesn't change my life one way or another if you're a Steelers fan, but I don't get it. I don't get how you would root for anyone other than your home team. Maybe I have too much pride in Cleveland - my home. As a bartender at the Colts stadium, I took a lot of grief from everyone from other bartenders to the NFL Network guys. After my shift I would take the cash to the vault, which was on the same level of the field and the locker rooms. To turn in my paperwork, I had to walk through all of the reporters looking up at a little TV waiting for the final score. One winter day, a guy from the NFL Network asked me how could I be a Browns fan (I had on my Browns winter hat). My response? WOOOF! The next home game I heard a shout of "Hey Cleveland, your boys are up!" from the NFL Network guy. After that, he would have the Browns score ready for me at every game.

Maybe it is a respect issue. I have more respect for someone that is a true fan, that supports their team no matter what the score. To me, it shows loyalty, which is a quality that is sadly lacking in a lot of people.

Maybe I'm just cranky.

Either way, go Cleveland!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Homeownership

Takeru Kobayashi (July 2, 2009 - Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images North America)
About 8 years ago, I had a beautiful, fantastic apartment in downtown Indianapolis. It was in an old historic building, with thick cinder block walls. There were days that I thought I was the only one that lived there. It was perfect. And then... the Library bought my building. I was evicted by the Library during their expansion.

I then lived in a craptastic apartment in another part of town, which resulted in someone stealing all of my towels. There are few things more violating than having your wet towels stolen out of a washing machine.

My friends told me to think about buying a house. The thought scared the beejezus out of me. Let's face it, when you buy a house, it is usually with a 30 year mortgage. 30 years.  I started to casually look at houses and I found the perfect condo. Right downtown, in the middle of a historic neighborhood. The price was right...but I had cold feet. I mean...30 years. I got goosebumps when I toured the property. But, 30 years.

Stressed out over mortgages and long term obligations, I went back to my craptastic apartment and noticed a leak in my bathroom ceiling. I called maintenance and went to bed. I came home from work the next day, there were massive chunks of wall cut out, through out the apartment where the maintenance guy must have been looking for the leak. My horror intensified when I went into the bathroom to see he had cut out a 3 foot section of the wall, revealing black mold. Everywhere.

Exasperated, I flopped on my couch and yelled out, "OK Universe, if I'm supposed to buy that condo give me some kind of freakin sign!"

This is the point of the story that I need to caution you to be careful what you wish for. 

With God as my witness, after the words tumbled out of my mouth I heard a crash in the bathroom. I got up and quietly poked my head around the corner. I was shocked to see that the entire ceiling above the bathtub had caved in. Thankfully, it all fell into the bathtub, but the entire section above the tub was now *in* the tub. I quietly stepped away and called my realtor to buy my condo.

My condo has been perfect. Well, as perfect as it could be for not being in Cleveland.

For those of you that have followed me on twitter (@clevelandchick), you know that I have been trying to get back to Cleveland for the past couple of years. When you own a home, it is tougher to pick up and leave. There were so many times that I just wanted to bolt out of Indianapolis and move home and get a bartending gig until I could find a job. With an apartment, you can do that. It isn't so easy with a house.  I have muttered to myself numerous times that homeownership bites weenies. I know, that isn't a very ladylike thing to say, but owning a home in Indianapolis and living with my parents is taking a toll.

I have spent more money fixing the place up for someone else than I have for me. I've had plumbers and electricians and more plumbers out to the house. New hot water tank. Update the furnace. Install new pipes. Buy a new dishwasher.

I'm starting to feel like my place is never going to be sold and I am going to live with my parents forever. I'm still happy to be home and I know I made the right decision, but if the Universe wants to intervene again and send a buyer over, I would totally be cool with that.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Social Media Breakfast - Cleveland Style

There are a few things that I miss about Indianapolis - my kickass house, my friends and the social media scene. 

Indy has frequent tweet-ups, thanks mainly to Scotty of Scotty's Brewhouse (you can follow him on twitter @brewhouse, tell him I sent you and maybe he will send us some wings). There are lots of great opportunities to mix and mingle with the Indy twitteratti.

An Indy tradition is a monthly Social Media Breakfast. There are speakers and it usually sells out, capped at 100. 

Whoa. 

Eventually, I would love for Cleveland to have a breakfast meeting where people can network and get ideas for their blog/twitter/facebook/whatever is next. Whether someone is pushing their personal brand, their Etsy store or their brother-in-law's auto shop, we need a chance to get together, face to face. 

But, you need to start somewhere. On Saturday, July 16 (time tbd) at Grumpy's Cafe in Tremont, there will be the first Cleveland Social Media Breakfast. The next matter of business is for folks to vote on a time for the event here.
Details are still in the works and will be finalized early next week, but I hope everyone can attend (ok, not everyone, but at least 20 people).

What do you think people? Leave me a comment. 

See you on the 16th!