Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cleveland Sports

We all went to the Akron Zoo today. I needed to get some photos to possibly use at our ABF's Men's Retreat this coming weekend. While we were there, I saw this:

Well... the LeBron self-love-fest has passed, at least the latest saga of his self-love-fest. I can't say I'm terribly surprised that he left the Cavaliers, but the way in which he did, with "The Decision" television show and his complete lack of maturity to call the Cavs owner before his national television appearance and inform Mr. Gilbert of his decision to leave, was nothing short of embarrassing. I'm not sure if he consulted a PR firm before doing what he did, but if he did, remind me never to hire the same firm.

After I gave his behavior and actions some more thought, it's not surprising that it went down the way it did. LeBron had no real father figure growing up, and his mom was in and out of his life. The formative years of my life were spent with a close family that shaped me and encouraged me to make wise decisions and behave in a socially acceptable way. LeBron's behavior, his stringing his hometown along for months, his rejection on national television, his decision to team up with recently made friendships when things got tougher than he wanted to deal with in Cleveland, seems not too inconsistent with a guy who never had good parental influences. LeBron isn't a guy who exactly surrounds himself with godly wisdom. (Perhaps one of his inner circle could have informed him that the reason the Cavs were in a salary cap bind is because he was playing for an owner who was actually proactive in attempting to surround him with talent.)

I'm thankful that Lincoln is not of an age where I'd have to explain to him why the Cavs best player isn't playing for them anymore. (Well, Lincoln, LeBron is a...) Yes, professional athletes come and go these days, but the local kid should never treat his hometown the way LeBron did. And that's where the national media just doesn't get it. You can to to and find all sorts of columns that are simply clueless when it comes to the sentiments of a sports-fan from northeast Ohio.
As an aside, I haven't heard anyone mention this, and that could be because I haven't been paying too much attention to the media lately, but I have a sneaking suspicion that LeBron knew he was bolting Cleveland at least a year ago, if not longer than that. I can't recall LeBron ever courting other players to come play with him in Cleveland. He seemed to leave all that up to the front office. But not even 48 hours after he takes off for Miami, he goes out of his way to recruit Derrick Fischer. Makes me wonder how bad LeBron really wanted to win here... especially after he quit in the Boston series. (Don't believe me? Go back and watch tape of him torching the Pistons a few years ago. That was intensity, and he didn't have any of that against the Celtics.) And this hypothesis of mine that LeBron knew for a long time that he'd be leaving Cleveland makes me wonder this: What did Danny Ferry know and when did he know it? The timing of his resignation is curious to me. But I digress.

The recent events prompted me to recall my past with regard to attending and rooting for Cleveland sports teams. I look back and have great memories of going to Indians games in the late '80's and early '90's. The Indians stunk then, but they had players that were worth looking up to: Andre Thorton, Joe Carter, Cory Snyder, Doug Jones. These guys weren't jerks, they didn't get into trouble, and they hustled all of the time.

I have similar good memories of driving a short distance to the Richfield Coliseum to watch Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Chaig Ehlo, Mike Sanders, Larry Nance, Hot Rod Williams and Lenny Wilkins. They were good guys, a great team, and while I was sad when they lost big games in the playoffs, I enjoyed rooting for them season in and season out.

And though I never attended a game live, I enjoyed the Browns on television, and I cried after The Fumble and The Drive. I'm a Cleveland sports fan all the way.

But what is there to root for today? The Indians are lousy and they have a terrible owner who's attitude is: "I'll spend money on the team when you buy a ticket." Sorry pal, it doesn't work that way.

The Cavs are back to square one. While I think they'll be decent this season, the fact is that not a single good free agent has wanted to come to Cleveland, and I don't see that trend stopping any time soon, Dan Gilbert's money notwithstanding.

And the Browns? They're now the best game in town. Whooda thought? It remains to be seen if Holmgren and Mangini can produce a winner. Honestly, I'll be a skeptic until I see for myself that the Browns' ownership and front office stop listening to the fans and go out and run their football team like big boys.

I went through this history and searching because Lincoln is approaching the age where we'll want to go to games and spend an evening together. And as I consider all of my options, it looks as though we'll be spending our money and time with the Akron Aeros. I'd love for him to embrace the Indians as I did (they're about as good now as they were when I started following them), but I have a real problem buying a ticket and supporting the current Indians' ownership. Perhaps I should bite my tongue and do it for the kids. What do you think?

As soon as I ask you what you think (and do please feel free to leave a comment with what you think), I'll tell you what I'm thinking right now:
Thank God for Ohio State!
Despite the eggs laid recently in some of the big games, I have a feeling that the last Rose Bowl was the turning of a corner. Further, I have no objections to getting behind a Jim Tressel team year after year. And why limit it to football? I'll be happy to root for a Thad Matta team season in and season out.

The best thing about Ohio State sports is that they're not run by a stingy owner and they aren't susceptible to one of their players pulling a LeBron-style PR blunder on national television.

Go Buckeyes!!!!

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