Friday, November 30, 2012

Mark Shapiro and The Fans

Bob Feller with a little fan.
Some people in life wish they had a rewind button to fix what they blurted out, I think Indians' Mark Shapiro would like a copy/cut/paste button.

In an interview that has now gone viral, Mark Shapiro was asked by a Tribe fan why he should renew his season tickets.  And this is where the cut and paste comes in - Shapiro bluntly stated that if your sole reason for going to Indians games is to see the Tribe win, "Don't come."

I see where he is going with the statement, but as a fan, I don't want that to be the first statement out of his mouth. We are in a different time. Kids don't play catch until dusk in the front yard anymore because they are too busy in the basement playing Halo. Fans in the stands are too busy instagramming their stadium mustard slathered hot dogs and tweeting their seats to watch the game. You rarely see someone in the stands recording each pitch with a tiny little pencil, why should you since there is an app for that. The guy listening to the radio in the bleachers, paying close attention to the field and Herb Score's play by play are long gone.

Shapiro was making a point. Indians games are about baseball - the love of the game. You should go to Indians games because it is about the sport, about the team. Sure, winning is important, but it isn't everything.

Somehow, I feel Chris Perez is somewhere warm and cozy, gloating. And that my friends, sends pure rage through my veins. I have been an Indians fan and going to games longer than Chris Perez has been alive. Think about that for a second. Running up and down the aisles of the old ballpark was how I spent my childhood.

To have a player like Perez or a front office guy like Shapiro dare question my integrity as a fan and my love for the game is frustrating. To imply that if you only want to see a winning team you are a bandwagon fan, is both offensive and ignorant.

Indians fans, like fans of every other Cleveland sport, are surrounded by sports inflicted misery. We still go to games and root for our teams - our losing teams - because we are fans. I don't think it is too much to expect that the Indians and Staff want to win as much as I want them to.

Shapiro's comment somehow makes me think of the little leaguers at Dairy Queen, everyone getting ice cream because they played - win or lose. By not caring about the score, you aren't caring about the game.

I love the atmosphere of a baseball game. Hot dogs, cold beer, friends, sunshine, hot dog races - all as a backdrop to the main event - Indians baseball. I can't think of a better way to spend a summer night. 

If Shapiro wants to turn Progressive Field into an outdoor bar and kiddie park with a little something called baseball rumbling in the background like white noise, that is his prerogative. But, if that is his intention, he is going to lose even the most loyal fans. He needs to keep the old fans engaged while searching out and entertaining the new fans. I understand the monstrosity of that task, but that is why he makes the big bucks.

Shapiro and the like need to stop alienating the fans already in the house in an effort to grab the brass ring known as twitter nation.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Run, Cleveland Chick, Run

I feel like an outtake from Absolutely Fabulous.
I'm thinking of trying something amazingly out of character for me.


I never liked it much as a kid and I only remember running when I was being chased by killer bees or the mean kid down the street. I've always been more of a saunter type.

But, and you can file this in the things people never tell you category, as you get older, you can't eat bacon cheeseburgers and tater tots at every meal with out horrific repercussions on your body. 

So, I'm going to try something kooky - "Couch to 5K."  The program takes you over 9 weeks, from being a slug on your couch to being able to run a 5K without dying or vomiting.

Wish me luck and if you see me huffing and puffing on the side of the road, please make sure I'm not dying.

Feel free to leave suggestions or warm fuzzy comments.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Turkey Day - Now Stay Home

Thanksgiving is an interesting holiday. The family plan used to be eat too much, watch some football, argue about playing monopoly and then go to a movie followed by a well deserved nap.

Now, there are family rumblings about hitting some stores and get Black Friday going a day early.

I humbly say, stay home.

Every year the holidays creep closer and closer together. I predict by 2015, store Christmas decorations will be up right after July 4th.

Retail stores are opening earlier and earlier for the holiday rush, 24 hour shifts, 3 am sales and it is painful to watch. Online petitions have been floating around demanding that the stores go back to the way it used to be - that the only people that worked on Thanksgiving were gas stations, grocery stores and movie theaters. The problem is, people are showing up at the stores, cashing in their vacation days to camp out at Best Buy for the chance of grabbing one of the two sale tvs in the store.

If you have never worked in retail, you may not understand how challenging the holidays are. Not only are the employees missing out on rare time with their families but, I'm sorry to say, they are dealing with you.

Here is a true example for you. As a high school kid I worked at Marc's. Against my mom's protests, I had to work Christmas eve. That day, my faith in all humanity was shredded and littered through out Middleburg Heights.

That Christmas eve, we had the usuals come in. It was always sad to me, even as an obnoxious teenager, to see some of the older folks come in, lonely and looking for someone to talk to, buying a roll of aluminum foil or box of sandwich bags.

Anyway, that day was jam packed. I particularly remember one one screaming like a banshee at me because she was buying a carton of Marlboro Lights for a present and she wanted a carton without the price on it (it was standard at Marc's back then to have someone sharpie the price on the carton so when it got to the register we knew the price). Then something awful happened. There was a gas leak in the store and we had to evacuate. We were told to immediately leave and get out. Customers were furious. We had to run up and down the aisles chasing people out because they wanted to keep shopping.

One woman chucked a bottle of perfume at me because I wouldn't ring her order up and I was trying to escape.

We weren't allowed to go home and had to gather in the parking lot and wait. And wait. And wait. When we were permitted to go back in the store we had to put all the random carts away, with gas fumes still filtering in the building. Employees felt sick and some begged to go home.


It is the holiday. We all had to work overtime and there were some customers that waited in the parking lot that entire time. When they came back in the store, there was more yelling because they couldn't find their carts.

I tell this story because this was many years ago, before the giant sales, before Black Friday turned into gray Wednesday. During the holiday season, people get ridiculous and forget their manners. They treat employees like servants (I once had a guy at the Gap tear down an entire display of fleece hoodies and toss them in the air like rainbow colored snow flakes because we didn't have a size).

So, on this Turkey Day, I suggest stay home. Enjoy the time with your family. If you don't like your family, spend time with friends.

If you have to go out, remember to be kind. While you are sucking down that bloody mary before your shopping adventure, think about that bartender or server that can't be with their friends and family. Leave a little extra tip, and I mean cash money, not a random factoid.

Smile at the workers in Target or whatever store you are in. In the immortal words of Mr. Patrick Swayze, "Be nice." Don't lose your cool if there are no more $4 toasters.

We should be thankful today for all that we have, that and eat our weight in pumpkin pie.

Have a great day everyone.

Take a nap like my cat, Bernie.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Phil Dawson To The Pro Bowl

Cleveland Browns Kicker, Phil Dawson has yet to go to the ProBowl.
Phil Dawson is one of the most accurate kickers in the history of the NFL. He is the only remaining player from the Browns reboot in 1999. Dawson is first on the Browns' list of all-time field goals made. He ranks second in Browns' history with career points. He is fifth in the history of the franchise in the number of games played. Dawson holds the Browns' single season record with 30 field goals made in 2008. And for the love of all that is holy, the man scored all 15 points in the game against San Diego.

Why am I rattling off some of his stats? Simply put, the man needs to go to the NFL Pro Bowl. In 14 years, he has never been selected, and that my friends, is a travesty.

As Cleveland sports fans, year in and year out we are subjected to pain that is out of our control. Whether is is the knuckleheaded decision of our players to behave stupidly or flat out poor performances. With all of the heartache associated with all of our named segments on the infamous Cleveland sports fail reel, let's all take control of our fate and have something to cheer about.

The NFL has opened voting for the Pro Bowl, so let's make this happen. You can vote as many times as you would like and it is incredibly simple.

Click here to start:

Phil is on Special Teams so click on the little K under the Special Teams heading.

Then, you click on Phil's picture and once your vote has registered, there is a check mark. You are almost done. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and submit your vote.  See how easy this is?

Once your vote has been recorded, the NFL thanks you and gives you the chance to vote again. So do it. Vote 4, 40 or 400 times.

Phil needs your vote. Let's show Phil that we are thankful that the kicking gods shine upon Cleveland.

At least something does.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I Love Grumpy Cat

Tarder Sauce, aka Grumpy Cat is an internet sensation.
Memes are either brilliant or horrific. For those not down with the lingo meme (pronounced meem, rhyming with dream) is a term that was coined in 1976 by zoologist Richard Dawkins. Here is what he said about them in his book, The Selfish Gene:
Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperm or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.

I see memes as a photograph that people all over the world put their own spin on, hopefully creating something entertaining to share. The varieties of memes are endless,  whether it is Ridiculously Photogenic Guy or LOL Cats, it is an interesting way to spend 10 free minutes.

My favorite meme right now is an adorable cat with an incredibly grumpy face that makes me laugh until I am on the verge of wetting myself. So enjoy some of my favorites, but I suggest you relieve yourself first.

Monday, November 12, 2012

An Open Letter To Jimmy Haslam - Part 2

Dear Mr. Haslam,

I wanted to check in with you and see how you are enjoying Cleveland. I hope your home wasn't damaged in the recent storms.  I hope that you got a chuckle out of Lake Erie depositing parts of the old stadium in your back yard, because we all did.  I think the great Lake was trying to subtly tell you that maybe keeping the stadium's name intact might be a good idea.

If you are considering selling the naming rights to Cleveland Browns Stadium, which is your decision completely, might I humbly suggest looking at the Luke, I mean Lucas Oil Stadium and The Jake, I mean Progressive Field. I know first hand that the Lucas Oil folks were a bit cranky about fans calling the stadium the name of their competitor.  But, it is your decision, and I am sure you will do what is best for the team.

I was at the game against the Ravens, and while I always enjoy my time at the stadium, I have a suggestion for you. During a game, go into the stands and try to send a text message, either to report fan conduct or answer a trivia question or set up a half time meeting. Just try that.

I hope my list of suggestions to get you acquainted with Cleveland was helpful. I can't tell you how many people came up to me concerned about your mustard choice.  I stand by my offer of lunch, in fact the Jake, I mean Progressive Field has a great Friday lunch special.

My treat.

I'm sure we could find something interesting to talk about at lunch, maybe how men seem to love that little Browns elf (I think it was because Art Modell despised it) and women hate it, or you know, if you wanted to bounce any hypothetical coaching scenarios out there just for fun, I would be willing to listen and play along.

Welcome to your new home.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

100 Awesome Things - #83 Doing The Right Thing

Kindness in the aftermath of Sandy.
If I had the option of a longer title without it looking wonky, this post would be "100 Awesome Things - Doing The Right Thing When No One Would Know Differently." As you can see, that is a bit long.

There are several ways we can do the right thing. There are the big ways, like if a friend leaves their car running you don't steal it. There are medium ways of doing the right thing, those situations where you are shamed into making the right call.  As an example and a little history of me, my first job was, like so many other Northeast Ohio teens, at Marc's. I worked at the one at Southland, which enraged my parents. When they poked at me to get a job, they expected I would stay in Brunswick. At the time, it never occurred to me to tell them I went to Marc's in part because it was near Sears. You see, my grandma worked at Sears and I used to visit with her most days before work.

I went in one day and my grandma, because of her seniority, was working in tools. This gentleman, and I use the term incredibly loosely, was yelling and cursing at her because she wasn't moving fast enough. When  grandma went in the back to check on a wrench for him, I walked up to him and explained that he was rude and needed to apologize. The man called me a few inappropriate names and I reiterated his need for apologizing, especially since it was *my* grandma.  Fortunately for me, there were half a dozen men around the department that agreed with my suggestion. I hid behind some hammers and waited for his apology when my grandma returned.

The man apologized and did the right thing. He was publicly shamed, but he ultimately made the right choice.

The most impressive way of doing the right thing is when no one is looking. When there is no real choice. You could do something or nothing and no one would be the wiser. No one is going to call you out for not doing something.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, photos popped up online of people with power and dragging power strips from their house to the street for strangers to use. I don't know that I would even be thoughtful enough to come up with an idea like that. I think we all make promises to ourselves that we will do our best to do the right thing, be more thoughtful of others or whatever it may be.

There is a great new movement based in Cleveland called "Because I Said I Would." The organization was created to help people keep their promises, big and small. So often, we make promises to people with every intention at the time of keeping. But then the phone rings, or you have to answer a text or feed the cat or pee, and the promises fade away, unfulfilled.

This group will send you ten cards, for free, to send to people to help you keep your word. You can request cards here, and start making the community you live in a little better.

After you fill out your card, you can share it with their facebook community and show people you can keep your word. Some are painful, thoughtful and funny. My favorite though has been from someone that made the same promise that each and every trick or treater made as a kid - he promised he would be the house that gave away full size candy bars for Halloween.