Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Challenge Of Chris Perez

Once again Chris Perez has fired up the Indians fan base. A month or so ago, Chris Perez went off about how the fans don't show up for the games, blah blah. It created such a ruckus that it resulted in him being hauled into the Tribe front office on a Sunday morning. 

Perez is right in that the attendance is down and could be better. I covered the issue here and here, so I won't rehash why I think Tribe attendance is less than desirable.  The issue was covered. 

Then, Perez talked to the New York Times. Once again, Perez badmouthed the fans. But this time, this time, he pushed the issue off the tracks and sent it careening down the mountain side into an ammo dump ending in a fiery explosion. 

For some inexplicable reason, Perez attacked Browns fans.
“That’s what I don’t understand,” Perez said. “Their whole thing is, ‘We want a winner.’ Well, why do you support the Browns? They don’t win. They’ve never won. They left. You guys blindly support them. I don’t understand it. It’s a double standard, and I don’t know why."
Oh boy. 

I'm not sure where to even begin with this, but this is a key issue in Perez's lack of understanding of Cleveland fans.

As Sports Illustrated pointed out, Art Modell  sucker-punched Cleveland when he took the Browns to Baltimore. Cleveland fought and clawed to finally get a team back. Fans have a connection to the Browns, holding on to the days of the Kardiac Kids and Bernie Kosar. 

Cleveland is a football town. Always has been and always will be. That will not change.

Browns fans have 8 home games to look forward to, while there are 80 Indians home games. It is fair to say that Tribe fans, even the most hardcore, are going to sit home and watch at least half the games from the comfort of their couch. Perez isn't taking into account that while fans are watching on Sports Time Ohio, which has a deal with the Indians, they are in part paying a portion (albeit tiny) of his salary by sitting around in their pjs.
All that aside, Perez isn't considering that he is a part of the problem.

Since he attacked the Browns, lets talk about the Browns. The Browns players are all over the city, supporting a variety of causes and other Cleveland teams. Recently, Browns rookies showed up to the Indians game and threw out the first pitch.

Who could forget Joe Haden, fake beard and all,  sitting court side decked out head to toe in Cav's gear? What about Haden and Josh Cribbs going to the NBA Draft selection with Dan Gilbert? 

Cleveland loves the Browns not only because they are our football team, but because we *know* them. Members of the Browns are visible in the community and they seem genuinely happy to support the city and are appreciative of the fans.

That is the problem with Perez and the Indians. No one really knows the players. Sure some of them are immersed in social media, but they aren't social. When was the last time Indians players were at a Cavs or Browns game? I honestly can't remember. 

Let's go back to Joe Haden for an example. The Cavs were at a low point when he jumped in to support the team. He fired up the fans because he knew that Cleveland fans are ... Cleveland fans.

As quick as Perez was to gripe to the New York Times (NY? Really?)  he could have jumped in to improve things with the fans. Instead of lambasting Cleveland fans for not filling the stands, he could have said, "We need you to be there!" Yes, Perez started giving away a few pairs of tickets on twitter, but that doesn't cut it. That gesture isn't big enough.

Some fans believe that Perez has to hurl the ball and win the game and that is the end of it. Sure, that is the main part of his job description, but what about the other duties as assigned that we all have?

Chris Perez has the potential to be something so much more than what he is now. Hopefully he will see that before it is too late.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

100 Awesome Things - #88 Sunsets

My pic from a balcony in Tempe. No Yoinking.
Sunsets used to be the enemy. As soon as the air would start to cool and the sun would slowly sink away, it was time to go home. Curfew was at sunset, so to me that meant dark. 

As the years began to pounce me, I started to enjoy taking a moment to watch and appreciate a beautiful sunset.

This picture is from one of my favorite places.  Well, one of my favorite places to hang out. This is the balcony at Gordon Biersch in Tempe, Arizona. The food is marginal (except the garlic fries, which are super tasty), the beer is pretty good but the service sucks dusty rocks. 

Each year I make the pilgrimage to Arizona to watch my beloved Cleveland Indians at Spring Training. While the Tribe's home field is in Goodyear, I usually stay in Phoenix or Tempe since it is a midpoint for most of the ballparks. Tempe is a college town hotspot with great restaurants, shops and bars. If you want great food, stop by the Mellow Mushroom, but if you want a great view of the sun setting, get there early and stake out a seat on the Gordon Biersch balcony.

Sitting there enjoying a nicely brewed beverage, you can watch the sunset with palm trees and an occasional plane in the background. 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

What Happens If LeBron Wins?

The airwaves in Cleveland were dominated by one thing today. Not the Jerry Sandusky trial. Not the first place Indians. No, nothing like that. The topic flying around was what will Cleveland do if LeBron and the Miami Heat win the championship tonight. 

Caller after caller lamented the vision of LeBron James hoisting the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy high above his head, buried in a sea of confetti being added to the Cleveland sports fail reel. As a Clevelander, I am very familiar with that montage of pain. Whenever a Cleveland team is failing or on the edge of doing well, the media trots out this reel of every Cleveland nightmare. Michael Jordan and the Shot (thanks Gatorade), Ernest Byner and his Fumble, and the latest segment, LeBron James and the Decision. 

In my opinion, if he wins, he has no business being tacked on our reel of shame. He is gone, and we have gone our separate ways. 

While we have gone our own way, please don't misunderstand me, I am still not a fan. When LeBron quit...and then left, he abandoned a fan base that loved him like no other. Old folks, little kids and everyone in between was in his corner. Dick wolly bear lovin weather wrangler Goddard even was in a video begging LeBron to stay, to finish what he started. DICK GODDARD. So, when James left, he became a rival for Cleveland. That was his choice.

The Miami Heat are now in the same category as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Tigers. If you think there is dislike toward LeBron James, I challenge you to go to the Muni Lot and proclaim your love for Pittsburgh.  

Whether LeBron James wins or loses tonight, he will never be a champion in my eyes. He will take his trophy back to Miami to the late arriving, white shirt wearing pseudo fans that will shoot off fireworks and yell for him. For a day. And then it is on to the next hot thing in Miami.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

100 Awesome Things - #89 Getting An Autograph

Thome. Thome. Thome.
I don't ever remember meeting anyone famous as a kid. I don't have any treasured crumpled napkins with a scrawled signature on it. I'm not sure if it was lack of opportunity or luck, but it certainly wasn't for lack trying. It just never seemed to work out. 

Maybe that is why I am an autograph hound now. It kicked into full swing at Indians training camp, athletes relaxed and friendly, scribbling away on whatever is shakily shoved in front of them. There is something right with the world when you meet someone you admire or wear their name on a jersey and that person ends up being cool. I squealed with delight when I met Phil Dawson. I almost passed out meeting Jim Thome.

I have baseballs, footballs, photos and other memorabilia signed and enshrined in frames or cases.  It is a fun hobby that is FREE. I see it as a game, so watch out Bernie Kosar, you sir, are next.

Phil Awesome Dawson.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Marine Week 2012 In Cleveland

A sample of what was left at the wall. My personal photo, do not yoink.
Finally, after weeks of anticipation, the Marines arrived in Cleveland for Marine Week. The city has been filled with artillery and displays from the Marine Corp.  My grandfather was a Marine and so was my favorite uncle, so they hold a special place in my heart, and let's face it, they are Marines. 

The week had something for everyone with an airshow, which was amazing, that included a storming of the beach. Sadly, we watched from across the highway, but it was still amazing. When some of the jets buzzed by, all I could think of was Maverick being denied his request to buzz the tower. I now know why. The planes rattled my fillings out as they buzzed by.

Marine Honor Guard walking the wall.
While I was truly impressed by the tanks and trucks and large guns, I was most impressed with the Marines themselves. There were a few peaceniks that were trying to razz the Marines and they just smiled and went on with their business.

The most stunning sight was the Wall. Even though it was a small portion, the hardcore bikers in tears as they made impressions of the names of their fallen buddies was enough to make me sniffle.

Minutes before I took this photo, these Marines were laughing, chugging red bull and taking pictures with kids, teen girls and old men. When it came time to be all business, they were. If you have never seen the precision of the Marine Honor Guard, I suggest you check it out. As the man on guard walked by, you could see the sweat dripping down his face. He never flinched, there was never a hitch in his step as people snapped his picture.

Even as he was told his watch was soon over, he never stopped, never nodded in agreement that he understood. He just kept walking.

If the Wall didn't make me emotional enough, climbing up to see all of the flags of the soldiers that have been killed, some with pictures attached, did it. Needless to say, I hopped back down pretty quickly. My dad stuck around a bit and talked to the vets, but I had to move on.

On our way out, we snagged our shirts as we headed to the Tribe game. I think my dad said it best, "If those are the young men guarding our country, I fell damn safe."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Help Brunswick Families

As much as I make fun of Brunswick, it is my home town and like most home towns, when a tragedy hits, everyone bands together. 

I grew up in Brunswick and went to high school in Brunswick. I vividly remember those nights of freedom, telling mom and dad I was going to a movie and instead joy riding with friends. Music blaring, windows down, the cool night breeze taking any cares away with it. 

Hours before graduation this year, 4 kids, Blake Bartchak, Kevin Fox, Lexi Poerner and Jeffrey Chaya,  were killed in a car accident. The fifth student, Julia Romito, thankfully, survived. 

Throughout the town there are signs of remembrance, blue and white ribbons tied to anything possible (my mom tied one to our mailbox),  handwritten last words to friends lost too soon. 

Many people have asked what they can do for the families to pay for costs that they never anticipated. I know of two things right now. First, Bullseye Activewear is selling t shirts, created by Brunswick High School seniors for $15, with $10 of each shirt going to the families. The shirts have Blue Devils on Earth, angels in heaven printed on them and may be purchased by calling 330-220-1720.

Second, Panini's in Brunswick is having a great fundraiser. All food is free. Yes, FREE on Monday. The catch is they are asking patrons to donate what they would have spent on food (or more) to the families. Panini's is donating 100% of the profits to a memorial fund for the families of the crash victims. They will be serving from 11 am until midnight.

We all have to eat, so how about coming out to sun shine filled Brunswick on Monday?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Why I'm Not A LeBron Fan

Last night while watching the Celtics v. Heat game, I was amazed at LeBron James' game. The guy is talented. He has my respect for his talent.

That doesn't make me his fan. 

Jeff Van Gundy, one of the ESPN commentators, talked about how befuddled he is that LeBron has people that dislike him. Van Gundy shared that since LeBron apologized for the way he handled the Decision, and it wasn't fair how he is constantly vilified and scrutinized. 
I was shocked. I remember at the time, I thought I had to have heard this guy wrong. I replayed it, and to my amazement, Van Gundy still wondered why people disliked LeBron. 

Previously, I made my feelings clear in this post, but it seems that I need to clarify.

Am I over that LeBron James left Cleveland? 


Does that mean I have to be a fan of James?


That is is where the confusion comes in. People not from Cleveland put on their Judge Judy robes and admonish Clevelanders that burned their jerseys or proudly wear their Quitness shirts. That is a right that we have earned. It was our relationship with LeBron that ended. Not yours.

LeBron was the one that wanted to leave Cleveland. He left in a manner that was disrespectful and immature to the city, his coworkers and the sport. He made a point to embarrass and ridicule Cleveland, a city that that adored him, for no other reason than he could. Maybe his ego told him he was so well loved that the city would follow him like a new puppy to South Beach.

During his whole decision making debacle, the city of Akron in an effort to win him over, proclaimed LeBron James Day, which he showed up for after it had ended. LeBron dragged teams to Cleveland to present to him why he should take his talents to their town. His ego is only rivaled by his skills on the court.

So while the world waits for him to win his not 1, not 2, not 3 rings, why should I cheer him on? Why should I cheer on the man that *quit* in game 5 against the Celtics as a Cavs player? Maybe I should admire his miraculous healing ability? His oh so painful elbow injury that caused him to shoot left handed and stand in the corner that has never flared up again? Impressive.

The microscope on the Miami Heat is of their own making. When you stand up and tell the world that you are the best and that you are going to be a championship team, you better be or expect the consequences. Making a spectacle out of yourself and your profession, will cause people to take notice and watch if you can follow through. I can't help that his promises are as fake as his hipster glasses.

I put the Miami Heat in the same class as the Pittsburgh Steelers - rivals to a sports team and a city. I don't cheer when Ben Rothlisberger completes a pass, why would I be excited if LeBron makes a free throw?  James may be skilled on the basketball court, but I am under no obligation to respect him as a person.

In my eyes, LeBron James will always be an immature, narcissistic quitter. Why would I want to encourage that?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Judge Judy Was Right

I hear this woman screaming at me in my dreams.
I have always been a fan of TV court shows. The People's Court, Judge Judy, Judge Mathis, all of them. In all of the series, there are common themes. Don't sign for anyone on a car note. Never pay for repairs up front. Don't ever, ever get a cellphone for anyone.

After all my years of faithful TV viewing, one would think that I would know better. I recently added my parents on to my cellphone plan.  My folks are in a rough spot and I try to help where I can. I have been reviewing their bills and getting interest rates lowered, packages bundled, and the like. 

I almost fell out of my chair when I looked at their cellphone plan. They both had ATT phones - years, yes, years off contract. They were paying almost $150 for 2 phones that did nothing but make phone calls. No texting, no data, no ring tones. Just phone calls. By adding them to my plan, it knocked their bills down to $50-$75 total. After much hand wringing, I added them to my plan, but with rules. 

My biggest rule was that Mom can't call information on her cell unless it was an emergency and if it was an emergency she was supposed to call 911 or me. This is the same woman that uses her yellow pages because it is more reliable than the internet thingy *eyeroll*. 

I opened my bill and guess who was making 411 calls at $1.99 a pop? This is not going to be a pleasant conversation when she gets home.