Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year - What Are You Gonna Do?

2013 is mere hours away and I'm happy to report that the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse has not galloped through my living room. Always a good thing if you asked me.

As the new year looms closer, people are furiously reviewing their life - the past year and what did and and more importantly what did not happen. In the next few hours, friends will begin loud drunken ramblings of how 2013 is going to be better than 2012. Everyone is going to lose weight, work out more, try to stay connected to friends and families, stop and smell the flowers blah blah blah.

New year's resolutions are full of suck because instead of improving our lives, they instead make us feel like crap and force us into a grumpy hole of sadness. The part everyone forgets is it didn't take an evening to get your life to whatever state it is in now.

One evening's promises, no matter how well intentioned, will not change your life. Think about it, if you eat nothing but bacon and tater tots for a month, you are going to get back to your healthy, svelte self overnight.

So, I'm not going to spend this evening dwelling on every craptastic thing that happened this year. That will get me nowhere except a direct path to cranky town. Not the best way to start a year. What I will think about tonight though is my hopes for a better 2013.

For some reason, 2012 has been a giant poo covered dust bunny under the couch for most people, myself included.  My hope for 2013 is simple, I wish for everyone to have a better year.

Well, that and for one of my Cleveland teams to make it to a playoff.

A girl can dream... 

Friday, December 28, 2012

An Open Letter To Jimmy Haslam - Let's Talk About Phil

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam looking very stylish in his Browns orange tie.
Dear Mr. Haslam,

I hope that you and your family are settling in well and enjoying your new Cleveland home. I know you are extremely busy with the season coming to an end Sunday against the evil team to the east, so I appreciate your time.

Let me be the first to thank you, and I think I can speak for most Clevelanders on this point, thank you for going to games. Thank you for being fired up after a bad play. Trust me when I say to you, we feel you. Thank you for being visible. Browns fans aren't used to actually seeing the team owner around, so if any of us say something awkward, please be forgiving. Don't be afraid to keep showing your emotions. Cavalier's owner Dan Gilbert does the same thing and we love him for it.

I trust that you found my first letter helpful and you are getting comfortable navigating Cleveland and its inhabitants. I'm sure you or someone on your staff has turned on sports talk radio or read any of the hundreds of newspaper or blog articles and you probably noticed - Browns fans are nervous about impending changes. Please don't take the angry, nervous paranoia personal, you have to understand that we have seen changes since 1999. Change hasn't quite worked out in our favor yet, but I am eternally hopeful.

I appreciate that you are trying to make the Cleveland Browns a relevant team again and eventually a contender. The NFL Road Tested show on the Travel Channel is a perfect example of my point of making the team relevant. People outside of the city of Cleveland are aware of the Browns, which is a nice feeling. I have enjoyed the opportunity to see the inner workings of the team and to see a personal side to the players, especially kicker Phil Dawson.

Since we are talking about him, Phil Dawson is  one of my favorite Browns players. He is a clutch player and his consistency is staggering. Since 1999, the Browns have not had to concern themselves with nervous hand-wringing on the sidelines whenever it was time for an extra point or field goal. As a Browns fan, that is one thing to be thankful for. I'm sure the long trail of coaches would agree.

Over the last 15 years or so, while not living in Cleveland, I have watched Browns games in the corners of tiny sports bars in several states, Tennessee included. Many times I was the only person watching the Browns game and if I had a nickel for every time someone asked me why I was a Browns fan I would have season tickets by now. So, imagine the pride I felt in 2007, sitting at an establishment in Indianapolis, when every NFL game switched to the end of the Browns vs. Ravens and all eyes were on Phil Dawson. Phil kicked a 51 yard field goal in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. I had people patting me on the back and buying me drinkings after that kick.

I'm sure you are already aware, but 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 Cleveland, the man scored all 15 points in the game against San Diego this season.

Mr. Haslam, I understand that re-signing Phil Dawson to a one year deal will come at a cost in the neighborhood of $15 million.


Sir, I am aware that is not going to happen. But I implore you to come to a longer term deal with Dawson, and keep him on the team. Make sure he retires as a member of the Browns.

I promise you, if Phil Dawson leaves Cleveland, we will immediately see the error of that decision when the game is on the line and another kicker tries to kick 50 yards into the harsh weather whipping off Lake Erie.

Dawson finally made it to the Pro Bowl this year, and he did so with the support of his teammates  and the fans. When was the last time you heard of players wanting to decorate another player's locker or fan campaigns...for a kicker? Dawson received the second highest amount of votes for a kicker, which for his first time even being in the fan voting contention, isn't too bad.

As a fan, I want to see Dawson break Lou Groza's record and become the team's all-time leading scorer.   I want that emotional moment on the field when it is announced.

I don't mean to be pushy, truly I don't, but I am going to go so far as to say Browns fans deserve it. After all the disastrous years of watching a crummy product on the field, of losing game after game, season after season, I want to be proud of my team again.

We all know that Dawson will eventually retire as one of the top kickers in NFL history. Since 1999, he has stuck with the team and the fans - all while I'm sure people were telling him to take his talents elsewhere. I, for one, am thankful he didn't. Dawson has been nothing but a respected professional.

I am suggesting that you and Joe Banner make a bold move.  Do something out of the ordinary and show loyalty to not only Phil Dawson but to the fans of Cleveland. We deserve something to cheer for and someone to be proud of.

Thank you for your time sir, and go Browns!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

#26Acts of Kindness

Whenever something awful happens in the world, there is a feeling that the evil must be offset. That for every terrible act, an act of kindness can help diminish the strength of the horrible. TV anchor Ann Curry suggested that everyone commits to doing one act of kindness for each of the innocent lives lost in the Sandy Hook shooting.

It is an amazing idea that I was sadly oblivious to until one of my blogging friends posted about it. She had a fantastic proposal - using the power of social media, her plan was simple. Since many people were off of work on Friday, take lunch to a local fire house to thank the first responders. I was immediately on board. Let's face it, these brave men and women are running to the very danger that I would run screeching and arms flailing from. By the end of the day, 50 firehouses received breakfast or lunch with a simple note - Thank you.

I am incredibly fortunate to have a great group of coworkers who pitched in and we delivered lunch to a fire house in East Cleveland. When we rang the door bell and announced that we had lunch for them all the men were adorably thankful, albeit confused. We didn't go with cameras or tshirts with our company logo. We didn't leave a stack of brochures or business cards. We dropped off the full lunch of salad, cookies, candy and pasta and said thank you. It was easy to see that this group doesn't receive thank yous very often because they kept asking why we were there and where we were from.

It felt great to just say thank you with no strings.

The acts of kindess spread through the day and weekend. That night, I was offered a pair of Cavs tickets with the stipulation that I do something nice for someone else - buy a kid a hot dog.

 I scurried home to get my pop to take him to the game and we made our way to *amazing* seats. I asked and was allowed to stand in the high five line as the Cavs came out of the tunnel. It was awesome, I won't lie.

When I went to the concession stand with my dad I saw a father and son next to us and I offered to buy their dogs, pretzel and sodas. If you ever want to participate in a social experiment, try to buy something for a stranger. It was hard enough explaining to my dad about the tickets and then me buying a stranger hot dogs. After the man was sure that he wasn't being filmed for some reality show and there was no motive other than I was trying to pay it forward, he reluctantly agreed to let me pay the bill.

It still felt great if for no other reason than the dad explaining the story to his friends.

On Saturday, the warm fuzzies continued. Shopping at the mall, it was great to see people sharing coupons that they weren't using giving other shoppers discounts. I had a teen girl quietly come up to me, calling me Ma'am (ouchie) and offered me a coupon for my purchase at Bath and Body Works.

If you haven't done it lately, give it a try. Feed a parking meter. Buy someone a coffee. Hold a door open. Clean the snow off the car next to yours.

It doesn't take any more energy to be nice. See what happens, you might be surprised. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Athletes And Postgame Twitter

Bad words get lifebuoy soap in the mouth.
Last night was yet another painful Browns loss. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos marched up and down the field leaving grass stains and cleat marks all over the Browns. As the game circled down the drain of despair,  fans took to social media to express their frustration throughout. When Josh Cribbs fumbled a return near the end of the game, the fan freak out rolled on into a frenzy.

It didn't help matters that CBS thought it would be a great time to cut away to Joe Haden in the last minutes smiling and laughing with teammates as they were getting their hineys handed to them and then to add to our misery - show clips of previous Broncos shellacking of the Browns.

By the end of the game, the fans had waved good bye to their sanity and went into attack mode on twitter.  No one was safe from the rage that has been slowly simmering since 1999.  Fans tweeted their anger with the play calling, officiating and lack of winning to the world and specific players  personal accounts.

And then, everything went to hell in special edition Bernie Kosar Logaberger Basket.  Perennial fan favorite Josh Cribbs received a great deal of hate messages, attacking his game play and wishing death upon him. Yes, you read that right. Cribbs was receiving death threats via twitter.

Before I go any further, I want to make something crystal clear. I am perfectly ok with fans whining and griping about a game. I am also ok with fans moaning and groaning about players. I buy tickets, jerseys, coffee mugs and everything else, so I have a right to comment.  I am, however, *not* ok with fans wishing injury or worse to any athlete or member of their family. 

The negativity got to Josh and he sent out this tweet:

A number of Cleveland athletes, from Josh Cribbs to Chris Perez have gotten into twitter wars with fans, and I have a problem with it. Cribbs and others of course have the right to say what they want and react how they want. I just wish they would think before they tweet.

Instead of reporting and blocking the "haters" or even pulling a page out of LeFoolio's book and reposting the messages to shame the idiots, Cribbs zeroed in on them. It was like Perez and the heckling A's fan he had tossed.  Perez paid attention to the one guy yelling at him and ignored any Indians fans there to support him.

In Cribbs' defense, he later deleted the tweet and admitted it all got to him and tried to move things in a positive direction. I respect him understanding and acknowledging and it makes him human. What I don't understand is why not even an hour after the game the team was on twitter.

These players need to go through some sort of social media training. I know they go through regular media training, how to respond to questions, look in the camera, etc. Why not social media training? Fans are going to angrily critique the game, coaching and players and social media makes it instantaneous. Dealing with it is part of the million dollar contract that the players sign. As a person that has worked in retail and hospitality for years, I can tell you, people are jerks and if you want to keep your job, you need to learn how to respond to them. As a bartender I was called everything but the name my parents gave me and I was also threatened on numerous occasions for cutting people off. My minimum wage butt needed to deal with them appropriately if I wanted to keep working.

The easy solution would be for players to avoid social media, but to be honest, I would hate that. A better answer would be to stay off twitter immediately after a game and to not respond to the hate.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why Phil Dawson Is Awesome

Phil Dawson raising his helmet to the fans after the Reedskins game.
I've been a sports fan for as long as I can remember. My first celebrity crushes were Dan Fouts and Joe Charboneau. As much as I loved watching Bingo Smith and Mark Price of the Cavs growing up and the Indians bats of the 90s, I have always loved football.

Maybe it was because my first crush in elementary school would try to woo me by drawing a perfect San Diego Chargers helmet or finding a plastic Steelers helmet from the gumball machine that we could crush in the playground, that made me a football fan. Maybe it was sitting in our living room plopped on a bean bag chair watching games with my dad. Whatever the reason, I have always loved football.

In elementary school, we had the Kardiac Kids shirts with our school name on the back that I saved my allowance for. I loved that damn thing. But, I never got to go to an actual Browns game at the stadium as a kid. Indians games for sure, but never a football game.

Flash forward to adulthood and I'm still a Browns fan, still a football fan. Now though, I'm not only a fan of the game, but players as well. There are many players on courts and fields that could care less about the fans. They ignore kids for autographs or fight with fans for not buying enough of their jerseys. Some of these guys think that the admiration and good will from the fans will go on forever, regardless of their behavior.  I get it, football is a macho game with bravado and swagger. But there is room for good guys. The players that acknowledge the fans and their support. The guys that are grateful to be a part of the game and a part of our lives.

Whether it is a guy like Bernie Kosar laughing thankfully about pets all over Cleveland named after him (my little Bernie included) or Phil Dawson tweeting a fan like me for my support throughout a difficult season, there are still good guys in sports.

And that my friends, is a good thing to see on a Monday.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mike Polk's New Book

Some days it is damn fine to be a blogger. Because of my little blog I occasionally get to do awesome things because someone thinks someone else is listening to me.

That my friends, I will proudly and gratefully take and run screaming down the street with.

I was recently invited to the book release for Mike Polk's new book, "Damn Right I'm From Cleveland," and let's face it, with a title like that, how could I not be intrigued?

It may seem sacrilegious, but before the party, I had never seen Polk in person, and all I knew about him was the hilarious true "Hastily Made Tourism" videos for Cleveland. His book is in a word - fantastically Cleveland.

Please don't mistake me, Polk isn't going to win any major award for his book, but if you are a Clevelander, and you don't at least crack a smile, then you you need to get on the bus and go back to Pittsburgh. Any man that suggests adding Bernie Kosar and wolly bear lovin' Dick Goddard to the Cleveland flag is a good one in my book.

The joys of googlefu. A little guy and his bop bag.
Polk does highlight our sports fails and all of the things that outsiders poke fun at Cleveland for. If you didn't know anything about him, you might think he was attacking the city he proclaims to love. I am giving Polk the license to use his Cleveland card and poke fun at us, as well as himself. Clevelanders are a special breed, watching as helpless victims to drives and fumbles and decisions, but we always come back for more, like those bop bags from the 70s. You smack us down with all your might but we pop back up for another punch to the gut. That is Cleveland.

"Damn Right I'm From Cleveland" is a great gift for any diehard Clevelander on your list. His alternative tag lines for Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas Ale is something we have all discussed at some point with our friends late into the night.

The only thing I don't like about Polk's book is I didn't come up with it.

"Damn Right I'm From Cleveland" is published by Cleveland publisher Gray and Company and is available at book stores and your local Costco.

Now if you will excuse me, a Christmas Ale is calling my name.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pro Bowl Phil Dawson

The Pro Bowl voting is in full swing and Phil Dawson is still, unbelievably trailing in the votes for Kicker. That my friends, is a darn shame. All I can say is get out there and vote. Vote often. Vote during the timeouts. Vote during the commercials. Spend 4 minutes in honor of number 4, voting until your fingers want to fall off.

If we could send a chucklehead like Peyton Hillis into the fame of a Madden cover, the least we can do is send a guy that deserves it, to the Pro Bowl.

Vote for the Pro Bowl here and if you need added incentive, here are a few motivational pieces:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cleveland Running Company & My Adidas

A week or so ago, I announced my intention to consider the possibility of doing the couch to 5 k program. After further careful consideration, I decided I needed new shoes to solidify my decision. Like most non-serious running types I usually select my shoes based on color and then whether or not they are comfy. Not the wisest of moves especially since I'm now in one of the upper age brackets and I don't want to crack a hip.

At the suggestion of some friends, I went to the Cleveland Running Company's Ladies Night to get some free stuff and shoes that wouldn't cause me to break my ankle as a I careen down the track at the rec center. I have no shame in saying that the thought of going into a specialty store scared the beejeezus out of me. People that are hardcore anything intimidate me and I was worried I would be laughed out of the shop with my clueless questions.

Much to my surprise, everyone in the store was helpful and non-judgey shoes. After a series of standing on one foot and balancing and other movements I found a little kooky, the manager told me that I need a neutral shoe. No extra bells and whistles were needed for me, which was a relief since the last sporting goods store I went into, the sales person said she could tell how much support I needed (a lot) just by looking at the bottom of my feet and then proceed to recommend the most expensive pair in the joint.

I tried on a wide variety of shoes with an incredibly knowledgeable guy (although he did make me a little stressed with his barefoot shoes). It came down to a pair of Adidas or a brand of running shoe I never heard of.

Both shoes worked out fine but I went with some Adidas because it is a brand that I am familiar with and as shallow as this sounds, the other shoes looked like clodhoppers. I determined I had enough working against me and I needed every advantage I could get. If I got one giggle on the treadmill at my clodhoppers, I would never be back.

The Adidas that the guy brought out for me to try were *bright* pink. I haven't chosen that color of my own volition since I was older enough to tell my mom to stop dressing me like a goober. I wanted the red and gold ones as an homage to Iowa State (bowl bound by the way). No luck in my size for the red ones because they were last season. This season? Adidas has decided that all women want to be 12 year old rug rats and all of their shoes (at least in the style I wanted) are to be pink or purple. Pink and white. Purple and white. Purple and black. The poor guy dragged me through the entire catalog after seeing my sadness. I looked at a different style...white with orange...close to browns colors, that would work. But, of course it was last season and the new ones are ... wait for it...purple.

The Cleveland Running Company was incredibly helpful trying to find a non pink or purple shoe.

 As you can tell from my cat, Bernie's inspection, I took the pink ones. It was pink Adidas or clodhoppers. I would like Adidas to hear me loud and clear in that not every woman wants to go back to age 12, dreaming of sparkly butterflies while dancing around my room in pig tails looking for the perfect place to hide my diary with cute little purple or pink Adidas shoes. Please tell your marketing team to stuff it.Or maybe, just maybe, talk to some real women. Just a thought. A very cranky thought.

I'm thankful that the Cleveland Running Company made my shoe shopping experience relatively painless and honestly for not judging me. They seem like a great group of people, passionate about running and willing to help anyone find a little of that passion as well.

Stay tuned for my further adventures, and if anyone has any training tips, please share them in the comments.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Grumpy Cat Wishes You Happy Holidays

Tardus Sauce taking a little grumpy nap.
I have made no secret how much I adore a grumpy cat. I still giggle at my last post about him. So, with the holidays and Apocalypse quickly coming at us, what better way to spread a little holiday cheer than grumpy cat part two? There is no better way my friends, no way at all.