Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rosie & Rocco's Meatball Fiasco

Today was one of those days that I ambled around town until something fun jumped out at me. That fun was going to the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland with my aunt. After an hour or so of her winning and me losing all my money, we took the casino up on their offer of a free buffet after playing for 30 minutes or more. 

I was going to grab a salad and maybe some cheesecake, but when we got up to the buffet, it was closed. There was about an hour and half to wait until it opened and there was already a line forming. We gave each other the "thanks, but no" glance and went to the food court. 

The casino gives you a day or so to use your vouchers, so we opted to try Rosie & Rocco's, the joint owned by Cleveland chef Rocco Whalen. I have been to Fahrenheit and had an enjoyable if not *expensive* meal, so I had high hopes for Rosie & Rocco's. 

The $15 voucher from the casino and .75 nabbed me a meatball sub, doughnut doughballs (more on those later) and an iced tea. Let's start with the meatball sub. The meatballs were, I believe his mom's recipe, and since my mom doesn't cook but my grandma did, I'll say that if I made them and put my grandma's name on them, she would have whacked me in the back of the head repeatedly until I removed her name.

The meatballs on my sandwich were smaller than those made by Subway. The bun was ginormous compared to the meatballs, which made it all the more depressing of a sandwich. You could have used one side of the bun and cut that in half and it would have been the right size. I tried to over look everything looking forward to the mozzarella I was promised stuffed in the meatballs. Once again, I was disappointed.

As I mentioned before, I have been to Fahrenheit so I know Rocco can cook, so I am going to assume that his staff at the casino is not following his recipes. There was no mozzarella anywhere to be found inside my meatballs. I know this because I looked. They were flavorless and crumbly. I ate two of the meatballs, ignoring the bread, until I finally gave up and went for the fried doughballs.

The fried doughnuts were actually doughballs rolled in cinnamon and sugar with a glob of marscarpone, that at first glance, I thought was a quarter stick of butter. The inside of the doughballs gave me flashbacks of episodes of Top Chef or Chopped, where I imagined the dough being hurriedly stretched and rolled in the back - then plopped on my plate. The doughnuts were not fluffy but just...well...doughy. 

Looking for positives, the marscarpone was tasty, and the iced tea was cold. The staff was friendly, but it just didn't make up for terrible food. Getting pizza from a mall Sbarro would have been better quality than Rosie and Rocco's.

My aunt and I tossed well over half of our food and headed back into the casino. We didn't bother going back to the counter because quite frankly I doubt that anything else they would have produced would have been better.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Manny Acta Out, Sandy In

The practice field in Goodyear. Mine so don't yoink.
Today, the Indians showed Manager Manny Acta the door and slid Sandy Alomar, Jr. in his place and all I can think of is my old boss.

By all accounts, Manny Acta is a pretty even keeled guy. Rarely does he gets his feathers ruffled during a game. Some people would say he was to calm. He had no fire.

That is where my old boss comes in. I worked for a guy that managed his life under the premise that everyone is out to screw you, therefore you have to make them think twice before messing with you.

This guy yelled and screamed and threw a wide variety of objects so often that he was a cross between Gordon Ramsey and Eric Cartman on a daily basis. His main complaint with me was that I didn't yell at people. "Yelling garners respect!" he would scream until he was red faced and on the verge of hyperventilating. I will tell you, he did have people quivering in front of him. I witnessed him tear seasoned salesmen into little shreds coated in tears of shame.

I don't really know if people hopped around like mad jumping beans for him because he yelled or because he was the owner and was known for firing people at a whim.

I can't blame the entire collapse of the Indians on Manny Acta. Yes, he needed to be more vocal at times to show the team that he was behind them. But, I don't know what went on behind the scenes, other than I don't think he ever took a bat to the urinals and bust them into smithereens.  The big question is would that have motivated the team? Does the Tribe need a fireball as a manager? Is Sandy any more energetic than Manny?

You can't solely blame Manny for the teams meteoric crash to earth. I think the players have just as much of a role. And please, don't get me started on the disruption known as Chris Perez.

Someone had to take the fall for the Indians' failure this year, and that is Manny. Is it fair? Is it the right move?

In the immortal words of every Cleveland sports fan...I'll be waiting for next year.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

100 Awesome Things - #84 Cleveland T-Shirts

The shirt that started it all for me.
In the late 80s, my awesome aunt took me to Record Revolution on Coventry in Cleveland.  It was cool and hip and just the place my parents would never take me. The place was full of records...actual record albums and cassettes. They also had racks of "cool" t-shirts of bands and witty sayings. My favorite was the "Defend Cleveland" shirts. They were rough and to the point.

I was in love.

Years later, the city is full of upstart companies capitalizing on Cleveland pride, and I am completely OK with it. Here are some of my favorites, in alphabetical order...
C.L.E. Clothing has a lot of CLE stuff, get the point. By far my favorite is the Eliot Ness one, so mark that on your Christmas list kids.

In the 70's Daffy Dan's started with the catch phrase, "If it doesn't have DD on the sleeve it's just underwear!" They were the first (that I know of) to show Clevelanders the pride they can show with a t shirt.  I personally love my "Cleveland You've Got To Be Tough" shirt. You can go to their store on Superior and I think Big Fun can make you one on the spot.

I have several of these shirts. You can go on their website and get your Cleveland swag on. The cool thing about these guys is that they sell officially licensed player stuff. So when you buy me the Phil Awesome Dawson shirt for Thanksgiving, you know Phil knows.

I can't wait to wear my "We Are All Kipnises" shirt to spring training. There is always next year y'all.

I think I have paid for his new shop opening soon in Tremont. Not only does he have great shirts for Cleveland, he is also affectionately known as the Etch a Sketch guy.

The OKCLE shirt for the playoffs was cool and let's face it, he is tops in my book after creating the "Lyin King" shirt.

Ok, ok, they aren't Cleveland, but the kids at Rubber City Clothing Company deserve a shout out. They have worked on swag for The Pretenders (cool) and have tried to build on the pride of Akron. As a Zip, I can appreciate their effort. I adore my Route 8 shirt.

Did I forget anyone? What is your favorite Cleveland shirt?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Where Did You Go Joe Charboneau?

Super Joe Charboneau
It pains me to think that the Cleveland Indians are once again irrelevant in the city of Cleveland. The Browns' season has begun and with the Tribe firmly in last place, the 10 bucks for a ticket and 10 bucks to park is now going into the MuniLot parking fund for Sunday mornings. 

 How did this happen? How did the Indians go from first place to last place - a roller coaster ride zooming us from the penthouse to the outhouse?  The reasons for the collapse are endless, but thinking about it left me longing for the days of Super Joe Charboneau.

Back in the days of Super Joe, our superstar that had a penchant for opening beer bottles with his eye socket, the stadium was cavernous.  John Adams drum beat bounced from one end of the field to the other uninterrupted. There was no expectation of winning. If you went to the game, you went to enjoy the experience of the stadium and maybe a family night out. Winning was an added bonus. Winning was the unexpected slice of homemade pie at the end of dinner. A welcome, but unnecessary part of the day.

Then came the Indians of the 90s. With Thome, Lofton, Visquel, Belle and more, the city of Cleveland got a small taste of winning. We were contenders and the competition could put the mistake by the lake in their pipe and smoke it. 

Ever since then, Cleveland has been grasping at the notion that we could win again. We saw it and we liked it. In the 90s, the Indians were winners. Cleveland held the record with 455 consecutive sold out games. Now? The game I went to last week was so quiet and there were so few fans in the stands you could hear the Sports Time Ohio feed from the concourse.

I love my team and I will still make it to another game or two before the ballpark gets tucked away for the season, but admittedly, I look back fondly of the the Indians as loveable losers. Back then it was more about going to the game with no expectations and just enjoying the evening. I'm not a fan of losing, but it is much easier to take when it is the norm.

The short lived Tribe mascot - The Baseball Bug.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Peyton Manning Ruined Everything

Peyton leading the faithful in Rocky Top.
Peyton Manning ruined everything. And no, I'm not pointing out his tanking your fantasy league.

Because of Peyton Manning I am furiously disappointed and painfully aggravated with Joe Haden. Let me connect the dots for you. I lived in the great state of Tennessee when Peyton Manning was the Volunteers' Quarterback. I used to joke that you could walk buck naked down the highway during a UT game and no one would notice. I once had to bribe a sports bar to put the World Series on one itty bitty fuzzy bunny ear wearing tv in the corner to watch my beloved Cleveland Indians -it was the UT 'Bama game.

Peyton Manning was almost a folk hero in college. No sour tales of him skipping class. No hushed whispers of him driving around in an Escalade with parking tickets flapping under the windshield wipers. When Peyton elected to finish his degree instead of go into the draft, it was front page of every newspaper in the state.

When Manning went to the NFL, the tale goes it was between him and Ryan Leaf as the #1 quarterback. Ryan Leaf never showed up for his interview with the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton showed up to his interview early...and he was the one interviewing the Colts, not the other way around.

In Indianapolis, Peyton was a hardworking guy. For practices, he was harder on the guys than the coaches. He was the one calling his players out. Manning set the standard. Great on the field, and an upstanding member of the community. When Big Ben famously busted himself up in a motorcycle accident Manning stopped just short of calling him a moron. Manning spoke publicly about not participating in pick up basketball games or doing anything in the off-season that was risky. Manning cited his commitment to the Colts and the fans.

Enter Joe Haden.

Joe Haden quickly became a fan favorite of Clevelanders. Haden happily showed up to Cavs games with an Anderson wig or his famous "beard." Haden escorted a local teen to her prom. He was at opening day for the Indians and regularly chatted with fans in person and on twitter. After the Decision debacle, Haden gave the city of Cleveland what it was begging for - someone that was proud to be here. Haden embraced his role as an ambassador to Cleveland.

Until he went to Vegas...

Joe Haden was suspended by the NFL for four games because he failed a random drug test. The story goes that Haden took Adderall to keep the party going on a Vegas jaunt.

This is where Peyton Manning ruined everything. Before Manning, athletes were expected to behave badly. After Manning, athletes are held to a certain level of accountability. The bar has been forever raised. Because of Haden's selfish move, the Cleveland Browns and fans have suffered. If there was ever any question of Haden's contributions to the team, please review the Eagles game. 

I'm not sorry to say that Haden owes Cleveland. He screwed up. Period. 

The question is how can he make it right?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Photo Fun - The Optimism of a Browns Fan

Scully properly documenting something important.
In my ongoing quest to bring my dusty digital photos to light I found the perfect little nugget to share with the start of our season kicking off on Sunday. To me, nothing portrays the eternal optimism of a Browns fan than this guy.

To set the scene, I was at a preseason game against the Jets with my pop, eagerly chatting about how obnoxious it was that Brett Favre was going to be the Jets quarterback when I saw this guy.

I couldn't help but ask him if I could take his picture. At first his girlfriend was a little cranky but when she realized I just wasn't hitting on her man, she happily obliged. Browns fans are good like that.

This fan sums it up perfectly. Every year as a Browns fan at the start of the season you tell yourself this is the year. This is *finally* the year that we win we whisper on Sunday mornings.

So to all the fans that will be wearing their jerseys, buckeye necklaces with brown and orange beads and painting their face on Sunday, I salute you.

Because friends, this could be it. I mean did you see the youtube clip of Weeden shooting down those clay pigeons?

Maybe finally, finally, this is our year.


Monday, September 3, 2012

100 Awesome Things - #85 Cleveland Browns Fans

Scotty's Brewhouse in Indianapolis made a Browns fan feel welcome
In my ongoing quest to point out all things awesome, in no particular order, #85 is Cleveland Browns fans. As a true Browns fan, you know that with the exception of very few, you don't just become a Browns fan. Little boys and little girls in Dallas don't wake up one morning and pronounce their love of Cleveland.

No friends, being a Browns fan is passed down like grandma's crochet blanket. Moms and dads pass the passion for the team and the hatred of John Elway down through the generations. The fans now don't know the thrill of the Kardiac Kids, and the heartbreak of "the drive."

Browns fans show up each season proclaiming that *this* will be the year. Every year.

Every Sunday, fans pack the Cleveland Municipal Lot and lots all over town, with their decked out vehicles. Retrofitted school buses, bread trucks or campers are Browns ready. For those away from home, all over the country, fans mosey up to bars and pubs begging for their game to be on.

In Indianapolis, I went to Scotty's Brewhouse downtown. It was one of the few joints I could go into and they would have the game on, without sneers or grumbles. There were a few other fans that would show up each week, we would exchange knowing glances, like we were part of some elite club.

Browns fans are dedicated and ever patient and while we haven't won a championship since 1964, we are ready, because maybe, just maybe this is our year.