Entries by: Marielle Brinda

The Curious Case of Cleveland vs The Cubs

Written by :
Published on : October 29, 2016

 

 

First off, I’m not going to rub our latest win into the faces of Chicago Cubs Fans. I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. Not after their first home World Series game in 71 years. Not after all they’ve been through… Years of turmoil, lost games, Steve Bartmans, Old Style, and goats. The year-round sold out games, the tradition, the rotating cast of Bros that frequent Clark Street bars belting out Living on a Prayer night after night! That horrible deep dish pizza! Talk about constipation! No, but really, as a born and raised Cleveland Indians fan, I have no hatred for Chicago Cubs fans.

 

I’ve only really lived in three cities: Cleveland (Elyria and Lakewood), Chicago (Wrigleyville and South Loop), and Los Angeles (Sherman Oaks and East Hollywood). So, at one point I did consider Chicago a home (But not home home of course). And my two years living in Wrigleyville were filled with great times. I can’t deny that I loved hearing the crowd from my front porch, scalping tickets in the fourth inning to see part of a neighborhood game, drinking that cheap special of Old Style with a shot of Canadian Mist (or what I like to call – the Addison Whore), dancing on the piano at Sluggers, taste-testing deep dish pizza at D’Agostino’s, Giordano’s, and Pisano’s, and inhaling cigars at Around the World Tobacco on Belmont. Chicago holds a special place in my heart and in my lungs. But doesn’t that say something? No matter how many years went by without a World Series or even a postseason, people from near and far love to go watch the Cubs. Cubs culture is just cool. And it didn’t hurt that John Hughes featured Chicago and his teams in most of my favorite childhood movies.

 

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But let’s get to the facts, to the true love, to the devotion, to the sweet, sweet RBI that Coco Crisp whisked to Wrigley right field and got the Cleveland Indians their one and only run to ultimately win Game 3 of the 2016 World Series. Or that smooth criminal pitching from Josh Tomlin. And the eleven lucky and very wealthy Cleveland Indians fans that were able to get tickets at Wrigley and cheer on our guys. As I watched the game and listened to my dad’s post-game show, it was clear how important, how special this moment was to everyone. Every mistake, every victory was amplified by one thousand. It was an event that fans on both sides had waited a lifetime to witness – a World Series in itself for Cubs fans and a series between two of the most deserving, and two of the most ill-fated teams in baseball.

 

They both have arrived to face off after a one-hundred and eight year (Cubs) and sixty-eight year (Indians) World Series victory stretch. And they both want it bad.  Sure, the Cubs are the national favorites, the beloved and notorious underdogs, but Cleveland….Cleveland has somethin’ crazy going on this year! We have broken our championship curse which means, why not win a World Series? And the Cubs have never been closer to breaking their own. To top it off, both teams have f**king awesome pitching (But The Indians may have the upper hand at the moment). Only time will tell who will win, but let me go on record to say I’m #All In with the Windians. And so is Tom Hanks, Stephen King, Drew Carey, LeBron James, and our devoted fanbase.

 

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I did have the very fortunate chance to attend Game 1 of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field this past Tuesday – the same night that the Cleveland Cavaliers also accepted their Championship rings and started the NBA season. The same night that Kenny Lofton of the 1995 Cleveland Indians threw out the first pitch. A day like that will probably not come around again for quite some time. And to share it with my city, my dad and brother, and surprisingly with Cubs fans was kind of perfect. There was a brisk October breeze coming off the lake, but it was still very comfortable. The clouds were casting amazing shadows over the newly revealed statues of Cleveland baseball legends. The smell of bratwurst and hot dogs was in the air. And Cubs and Indians fans were chit-chatting like old friends as they waited for the gates to open.

 

Now, this was before the game started mind you, but I did have my first lady drink of the afternoon on the tab of a visiting Chicagoan who wanted to prove to me that Cubs fans weren’t all that bad. And I love free booze, so I accepted and in turn was immediately disarmed. I thought to myself, could two fanbases really get along during the championship series? Everyone claimed to be grateful to have made it to this point, and to be playing another Midwestern team with a substantial losing streak. It almost seemed too good to be true. But maybe that was because all of the Chicago fans that came to see the game in Cleveland were also the fans that couldn’t afford the tickets at Wrigley (Not to say that Progressive Field tickets weren’t hard to get or expensive, but they weren’t as unattainable…and we luckily had some connections).

 

Maybe these Cubs fans were the working class, blue-collar folk that many Cleveland sports fans relate with. Then I found out how much they were paying for seats alongside us in the upper deck, and realized they had shelled out some major cash for those tickets as well. That all being said, even with the blow-out that went down the first night, I never witnessed any fists thrown, name-calling, or poor sportsmanship – just a good old fashion ass-whooping. To which was reciprocated in Game 2. But boy did I relish in our win that night. The rallying on full-counts, the delicious concessions, our cheer-happy section, and the fact that my brother no longer thought of me as a contributor to the curse – because yes, I was in attendance for a win this time unlike Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Plus it put my dad (@sirfranksnbacon) in a very good mood.

 

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Now that we are up one and just two wins away from a World Series victory, a position my father has been in just two other instances of his life, and I as well, we can temporarily enjoy this moment of hope and relief together. After all, according to those stats nerds out there, we have a sixty-five percent chance of winning the series now. But will it be enough against those pesky Cubbies? We shall see. Just know, us Clevelanders are all very optimistic. Go Tribe!

 

 


2016 – Possibly The Best Year Ever For Cleveland Sports

Written by :
Published on : October 16, 2016

 

 

So we’re here. We are really here. It’s October of 2016, just four months after winning our first major sports championship in 52 years, and we just might get another one. So let me tell you a tale. Go in the backyard and get your fire started because it’s kind of spooky and a little chilling, as we sit with the ghosts of years past. But maybe the ghosts are coming back not to haunt us this time around, but to witness it for themselves. Something truly unbelievable. There’s a Coco Crispness in the air after all. The temperature is finally beginning to cool just as the leaves are starting to turn. The cycle of life is upon us once more. But this time we’ve come back from the dead as team champions once, twice, and maybe three times over.

 

I got home late this past Friday night. The moon was full and bright, casting a glow on the night creatures of Los Angeles. When I entered the gate to my apartment I was greeted by Cat Friend (That’s right. He’s a cat. A black cat in fact). I was getting ready to enter my humble abode when I heard a sound coming from inside. It was muffled through the thick wood of the door, but I could make out this maniacal laughter. And cheering. I heard it over and over. And I knew it could be only one thing:  A replay.

 

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I quickly tuned in to see Francisco Lindor hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth that would ultimately win us the game. Holy sh*t, I thought. We won Game 1 of the ALCS. We’ve won four games in a row! And as I sit in my room, writing this article just one night later, we’ve won five in a row! That’s the longest playoff winning streak that the Cleveland Indians have had since their 1920 season when they beat the Brooklyn Dodgers (also known as the Robins back then). The Indians also went on to win the World Series that year in a best of nine series as they used to do it – in honor of their former shortstop, Ray Chapman, who was killed earlier that season from a pitch. Crazy, right? And not to dwell on tragedy or eerie coincidences too much, but the 1995 Cleveland Indians also went onto win the ALCS after two of their pitchers died tragically in a boating accident.

 

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All of that aside and of course not to downplay tragedy or winning streaks, this season really isn’t about coincidences or statistical victories. It’s about a new found confidence. It’s about honoring hard work, legacy, and loyalty to our teams like we’ve done all along. But this thing, this strange thing called winning (I’m still not used to it), is spreading like a virus! We’re like rabid zombies coming out at night to soak up these wins in the moonlight, and yes even during the day! We’ve won an NBA championship, an AHL Championship (The Cleveland Monsters win does mean something), a UFC heavyweight title, and now we are on the verge of winning a World Series in one perfectly glorious season!

 

The city of Cleveland is running on Pepsi, Beer, hot dogs, and dare I say happiness? For once in my life I can turn on my father’s post game show (he’s the seasoned ESPN Cleveland Sports Radio Post Game Host, aka @sirfranksbacon), and I can hear the joy in his voice. Yes, joy. Coming from a man who’s built a lifetime around his hometown sports teams only to see them fail time and time again, it has turned him into a curmudgeon of sorts. But not anymore. His hope has been restored. And he is finally living out possibly the happiest year of his life.

 

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For so long the city of Cleveland was defined by its losses. And these memories came back to haunt us each and every year since 1964 (1948 for Indians fans). Many fans blamed it on a curse. My father even tried to remove this curse one fateful summer night by bringing a witch to the stadium, complete with magic and incense, and to no avail! But finally, the curse has been lifted. It took LeBron James and the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers to do so, but I believe we are no longer losers. We are champions. I believe in The Cleveland Indians. I believe in Andrew Miller and Corey Kluber and Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, Coco Crisp, all of our team and coaching staff. The tribe is alive. And if you’re from Cleveland, if you’re from anywhere in the US, you gotta love October baseball.

 

One last thing, to sit on as the Indians and Blue Jays take a Sunday to relax… are the Cubs still cursed?

 

 


Reflecting on History Made

Written by :
Published on : July 4, 2016

 

 

It’s been over a week and a half since the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship (our first in franchise history) and I’m STILL taking it all in. I actually had to re-watch the game and rally on the one week anniversary. I couldn’t help it!  It was awesome and also didn’t include the stomach craps… or the OCD / superstitious rituals of walking away when things started to look Andrew Dice Clay. But watching it the second time around also didn’t take away from the emotion, excitement, or pride I felt as I relived every moment including the Block (by James) and the Shot (courtesy of Irving). And then to hear the team speak at the rally, some shirtless, some not, reflecting on what it meant to them made everything come together. 

 

“Man, I’ve been watching The Block more than anything because there’s no shot without The Block,” explains Irving during the rally. “You see a guy chasing down a shot like that and then I get a chance on the biggest stage, Game 7, man, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” We wouldn’t either, Kyrie.

 

But back to that glorious June night…It’s hard to describe the feeling that overcame Cleveland, the fans, the team, me, as time ran out in the fourth quarter, LeBron pointed to the hoop after Golden State’s final attempt gone bad, and just like that the fifty-two year losing streak was over. I think my heart skipped a beat.  I just put my hands over my mouth and said, “Oh my God. We won.” My father, many of his wonderful ESPN Radio colleagues, and I watched the game from the station. When it was over, I looked over at my dad who was just staring at the television. He was suppose to be getting ready to do his post-game show with Michael Reghi, former Cavs play by play announcer, and another diehard who lives and breathes Cleveland sports. But he just stood there, speechless, in awe, paralyzed by the freedom of having that gigantic weight lifted from his jaded spirit. So we floated there for a moment – just to make sure it was real.

It’s not that I couldn’t believe it. It was just that we had all witnessed this scenario play out over the years time and time again, always coming close and always letting our achilles’ heel or just bad luck get the best of us. Look, I’m relatively young. At thirty, I’ve only been alive to experience and really understand the heartbreak since 1995, when the Cleveland Indians went to the World Series and lost. I had spoken to Mike Hargrove, Sandy Alomar, and Bobby D. of the Indians earlier that year. They all told me what it was like to hold that bottle of cold champagne, ready to pop it open, only to watch it get rolled away to the other locker room with tears in their years. But not this time. This time was actually our time – just as I had wished, hoped, prayed, and yes BELIEVED. And it came true. The champagne was ours to drink. But of course after a good cry. We’re good at that. We’ve had years to practice, but these were tears of joy.  

 

I think I finally broke when I saw Tyronn Lue just sitting there on the bench, holding his head in his hands, sobbing, letting the sweat towel absorb the last five months of stress that actually paid off. And then LeBron, collapsed on the floor,  living out the prophecy that he proclaimed as a teenager. He knew it could be done, but he had no idea how hard it was going to be. Literally, no other NBA team has come back after being down three games in the finals. “Against all odds,” he said. “I don’t know why the man above gives me the hardest road, but … the man above don’t put you in situations that you can’t handle. I just kept that same positive attitude. Instead of saying why me, I said this is what He wants me to do. And, uh, Cleveland — this is for you!”

 

 

LeBron, you’re the best. And I think we can all learn a little something from that. We can also learn a little something from Uncle Drew – performing under pressure and making every play, every shot, including that last amazing three-pointer count. For the record, I love you Kyrie. I’ll name my first born after you. 

 

And then there’s JR Smith who gave one of the most heartfelt, gracious speeches I’ve ever heard – thanking his own parents for raising him the way they did, wearing his emotions on his sleeve as he wept to a filled room of reporters. The media gave him a standing ovation. The City of Cleveland then gave the entire team a five hour standing ovation at the celebration parade and rally. No, there were no fires. The city did not explode as many fans predicted. But it did erupt with joy and the entire greater metro region, including fans abroad, united in one very small concentrated area to give thanks to the team that personified our native hard-working culture and internal fight to come out on top just this once.

 

It made me so happy to witness my father’s unwavering devotion finally pay off as he smiled, giddy like a kid, at the players passing by on their floats, some shirtless, some not. Fans, young and old, rejoicing together! It was an experience like no other. All smiles. And an unforgettable month of June that included a week-long celebration and greeting the team at the I-X Center as they deplaned to watch LeBron hoist that trophy over his shoulders. The fans couldn’t be more grateful to The Cavs for finally bringing home a championship for us all to enjoy.

 

I always knew they could do it, but of course there were trials and tribulations. I guess I had my positivity and faith restored after Game 5. But then after winning Game 6, there was this unfamiliar sense of calm and gratitude that resonated throughout the entire Land that made many of us believe we had this. You could see it in the newscaster’s and weather woman’s eyes as they gave their reports. Sunny skies. You could smell a win in the air. Yes, my tummy was a rumblin’ the entire day leading up to and during Game 7, but the Cavs persevered and powered through the rhetoric of the opposing team’s fans and the fight of the Warriors. And let me remind those of you who must be reminded – Draymond Green and company had two more chances to win just one more game TOGETHER, and they couldn’t. But good effort. They are a great team. But as Clevelanders know all too well, someone has to finish second.  

 

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I feel like I’m living in a fairy tale. Seriously. And this is our happily ever after. As I mentioned earlier, there is no Great and Powerful Oz behind the curtain controlling the game, and I don’t think the Illuminati was in on this new sports world order, but I do think this is our destiny. And our destiny includes winning a championship in true Cleveland fashion, making history, and yes, breaking a few records in the process! Maybe He (God) does play a role. Maybe He’s a basketball fan. But I’d like to think that we, the fans, and the City of Cleveland manifested this giant orb of positive energy (you know, like that pink bubble that Glinda The Good Witch uses) around an exceptionally talented group of guys who gave it their all and who really deserved and wanted it. And finally we finished in first.

 

With the pressure off who knows, maybe it will happen again next year. But we may not have to wait that long! The Cleveland Indians are on a thirteen game winning streak and are in first place in the American League.  Why not a World Series win too? My dad told me later that night (of Game 7) after recovering from shock, that he’s greedy now. He wants more! The man got a crock- pot, an NBA Championship, and crab cakes for Father’s Day, so why not get greedy? He’s waited long enough. Maybe Charlie Brown will finally kick that game winning field goal for the Browns (That was a joke). No but seriously, we have an AHL Calder Cup (I apologize for not giving The Monsters the credit they deserved before), an NBA Championship, a UFC heavyweight title, and we’re winning baseball games. So far, 2016 has been a fantastic year for Cleveland sports. Let’s keep going. After all, the curse is finally broken! #Allin2016 #Clevelandisthecity #ultimatewarrior #MVP! 

 

 


I Believe in the Cavs

Written by :
Published on : June 19, 2016

 

 

 

A beautiful, hope-filled mural has greeted Cleveland fans at each home game this NBA Finals. It will greet fans one more time as they fill up seats in Quicken Loans Arena and just outside at Gateway Plaza during the Game 7 watch party. But before I go any further, let me repeat two of the greatest words in the world to LeBron James and to Cleveland fans near and far: GAME SEVEN.

 

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It’s what we hoped for last year, and what we finally got this year – another chance for a title and our best chance to break the championship drought thus far. The journey has once again proven to be unpredictable, frustrating at times, and awe-inspiring at others. The Cleveland fans, organization, and players have all shared in this emotional rollercoaster that we can only hope will end with that windblown look of amazement and happiness that you feel when it finally comes to a stop… even when you don’t want it to. But it will tomorrow night when the winds of fate blow through the bay once more.  

 

This season has got me thinking a lot about fate, facts, conspiracy, and superstition. Many Clevelanders have blamed the drought on a curse. Many Golden State fans will blame their losses on conspiracy (Steph Curry’s wife included). But when it comes down to it, the forces at play here aren’t hiding behind the curtain. There is no Great and Powerful Oz with unexplainable magic who can grant our wishes. But what is at play is special and resembles magic in a lot of ways. The magic is in the numbers, in the performances, in the incredible athleticism of LeBron James, and yes, his team. He has proven he can do it all. And his teammates (well most of them) have proven that they can follow his lead.

 

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That call and response could be seen in Game 6 as J.R. Smith lobbed the basketball up as if to no one – just to have LeBron come soaring in for one of the most exciting alley-oops I’ve ever witnessed. Or as Kyrie Irving hit shot after shot to match LeBron’s insane efforts in Game 5. That same call and response triggered another appropriate reaction with the fans who fed off that energy and transferred it right back to the team with deafening screams of wonder and joy.

 

When LeBron James announced his return a couple of summers ago, the city responded with another mural, a massive mural downtown that confirmed hope had returned, not only for our sports teams, but for our city on the brink of a downtown resurgence. Sure, he is not the answer to all of our problems. He is not the only piece to this puzzle as the city continues to rebuild and redefine itself. But he is a symbol of hope, of inspiration, and the possibilities that are to come for our community, our people, and our sports teams. And come time Game 7, we are all witness to what could be the end of Cleveland’s second place past and a new era of success led by one of our own.

 

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I pray the team slept well last night, just as LeBron and company did this past Thursday, fresh off a win. No, I don’t think there will be any more sleepovers this season (as I had mentioned and hoped for in my previous articles). And I no longer believe in my own conspiracy that Anderson Varejao is secretly trying to help the Cavs (unless it’s to demonstrate how to pull off a successful flop). But I do believe in what I see, in what fans see, in what my father sees, who is the biggest sports fan I know – which is hope, which is talent, and what is at many times unbelievably awesome to witness. I believe in the Cavs. I believe in LeBron. And I do believe that history can be made for Cleveland tonight, in epic fashion after trailing by three, with one more win. Believe it. We’re all in.

 

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And for all the Cleveland loving fathers out there, including my own, Greg Brinda, AKA @sirfranksnbacon, AKA The Dean of Cleveland Sports Talk, here’s to the best Father’s Day present you could ask for…that long awaited championship. You deserve it.

 

 


One More Shot

Written by :
Published on : June 13, 2016

 

 

After Game 4 of the NBA Finals the Cavs must now fight back for The Land on Monday night. More specifically, LeBron James and company must fight for their hometown and everything that it stands for to secure a win and a Game 6. He must lead his team to victory by making sure everyone brings their A-game. And that A-game requires stamina, great defense, making buckets, and a team chemistry that has been lackluster compared to the Warriors, who also have a strong bench.

 

My father, Greg Brinda, aka @SirFranksnBacon, reminded me early on and even after the Warriors were down three games against the Oklahoma City Thunder, that we can’t underestimate the talent of Golden State. He was right. After all, they did win 73 games during the regular season. It seems like this NBA regular and playoff season has been record breaking for both the Cavs and Warriors, but at the end of the day records won’t matter. What will matter is a NBA Championship. But is it still possible for the Cavs to win three games in a row, to win a championship for Cleveland after this kind of disappointment? We thought we had all of the pieces in place. Now, I’m not so sure. Now, it’s one game at a time.  

 

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                                                The look of LeBron’s disappointment after the Game 4 loss.

 

The only thing we can do as fans is to keep hope alive. In fact, I went to my first ever NBA Finals game this past Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena for Game 4. Along with nearly 20,500 other fans who brought their A-game, we cheered and roared as loud as we could. But let’s face it. As fans, we have the easy job. This is what the Brinda squad believes will have to happen in order for the Cavs to bring home a championship (in no particular order):

 

  1. LeBron will have to play the kind of basketball we know and love him for. You know the aggressive, breathtaking kind of B-Ball that redefines the sport itself.
  2. Kyrie will have to share the ball. No more ball-hogging. No more trying to school Curry. After all, there’s no “Kyrie” in “team.”
  3. J.R. Smith will actually have to hit three point shots in all four quarters, and a lot of them. Period.
  4. LeBron and Tristan Thompson will have to make their free throws. Come on guys. You’ve been doing this since you were kids. It’s the first thing you learn. Plus, it’s a part of both of your very large salaries. That goes for everyone else.
  5. DEFENSE. Stomp. Stomp. DEFENSE. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. When the guy on the other team goes for a shot, block it or at least try to stop the shot. Basketball 101. Also, we weren’t afraid to try and steal the ball before the Finals… so let’s do that now. There’s nothing more satisfying than to see Steph Curry having his favorite toy taken from him (and I’m not talking about his mouthpiece).
  6. Let’s hope that Golden State has a bad shooting night.
  7. Let’s hope that the Cavs have a GREAT shooting night.
  8. Tyronn, can you coach-up a little and be aggressive? Like break your clipboard when you get angry and yell at your team to do their job? Or tell LeBron to shut up and listen? Any emotion really would be good.
  9. Hope that the NBA suspends Draymond Green for hitting players in the nuts. Oh wait, they already did!!! But when he comes back, let’s show him a taste of his own medicine and get Dahntay Jones in for a few minutes.
  10. Let’s hope that the toilets overflow in the Golden State locker room right before game time. It’s an old arena. Nobody likes being chased by their own poop. Or haunted for that matter. And nobody likes getting their new sneakers dirty. (Cough. Cough. Steph Curry.)
  11. If Master Chef Curry thinks he can bring the heat in his new shoes, then the Cavs should bring back the affordable Starbury to cook up a win at a much lower cost. Sure the stakes are high, but why the price of the shoe? Let’s show future generations that championships can be won without breaking the bank. #Doitforthekids.
  12. Kevin, just keep getting up and shooting the ball. For the love of Love, try to stay in the game without getting hurt!
  13. Someone get Delly a Dilly Bar! Just keep the energy and ferocity up. You don’t need to be a hero. You don’t need to make threes. Just do what you do best. Get in their face like the hyper, sugar filled man-kid you are!
  14. Massive food poisoning at the Golden State team meeting (totally coincidental of course).
  15. Play Channing Frye more and pat your fearless defender, Richard Jefferson, on the back for doing his job.
  16. Think of your fans. The fans who stand for four quarters and bring their A-game. The community that comes together to support their hometown team even if they now live in other states or countries! Sure, Golden State wants to win a championship at home for their fans. And if this goes to a game seven, most Clevelanders will be watching from afar, but we’ll take it. We want that win even more and we’ll keep the cheers coming from across the land, across the sea, until you hear us loud and clear – We love you Cavs! (Even if you do piss us off sometimes) We know you can do it!

 

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                                                                 The guys need to get back to having fun.

 

Lastly, go out there and have fun. I’m sure LeBron and his teammates understand the magnitude of Game 5. But they can’t let it get to them. Instead, I hope they are enjoying every moment of being in the Finals – just as LeBron reminded them before the start of game one. This opportunity is special and in many ways a privilege. And as Jim Thome once told me, “You have to cherish every moment of it.” So I hope they are sitting at the Buena Vista Cafe this morning, taking in the breeze of the bay, listening to the seals bark at the tourists, and sipping on a nice Irish Coffee (sans alcohol of course). I hope they are reading the funnies in the newspaper or playing a game of chess with the local elders. Maybe Kyrie found a local court last night somewhere in Oakland and introduced Uncle Drew to a few young bloods. Hopefully, he took JR Smith with him to shake off his typical Finals jitters. Perhaps Kevin Love met up with his childhood buddy, Klay Thompson, and had a good catch.

 

It is just a game. But it can mean so much more to future, past, and present generations that look to their sports teams for inspiration, distraction, and yes, love (in some weird way). The Cavs just need to go out there, have fun, and do what they sometimes do best – WIN. After all, the pressure’s finally off! The drought has officially been broken since this past Saturday when the Lake Erie Monsters took home the Calder Cup! (I hope you know that AHL Hockey Championships don’t really count.) #Cavsinseven.

 

 


A Letter to the Cavs from a Grateful Fan

Written by :
Published on : May 28, 2016

 

 

Dear Cleveland Cavaliers,

 

Thank you for accepting the challenge, for fighting through matchup after matchup, for weathering the injuries, for your patience in times of mental and physical turmoil, for balling like some ballers, and for winning the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

Needless to say,  it’s been a long road. Yes, at this time last year we were advancing to the finals, but without Kyrie who went down in overtime, never to return in the 2014-15 NBA post season. Not to mention Kevin Love who endured a debilitating shoulder injury against Boston in round one. But the limited bench showed up and put on a performance that inspired the hungry Cleveland crowd, and even won two games in the finals. By the way, those finals wins were a first in Cavs history. Pushing, scraping, and Dellying our way to a game six, our luck and our energy finally ran out when Golden State took home the trophy.

 

It was a slow start to the 2015-16 season. Kyrie was still recovering. The wins were there, but not as fruitful as your typical cornucopia. It took a while before Stella Got Her Groove Back. But everything comes in cycles. As we lost Anderson Varejao to a torn achilles right before Christmas last year, we were gifted with a healthy yet rusty Kyrie as the holidays approached. With the New Year came new beginnings – and I’m talking big changes, as head Coach David Blatt was let go and Tyronn Lue went from highest paid associate to top diggity dog (but not the highest paid head coach of course). Could he live up to the challenge we asked? Or would LeBron be doing most of the coaching?

 

Some say Tyronn has stood his ground. And it’s undeniable that LeBron has had a significant impact on how the team has arrived to where they are today. I’m sure it was a little of this, a little of that. A lot of healthy eating, a lot of hard work, and a little partying in between – hence LeBron’s Prince Halloween costume. RIP Prince.

 

LeBronAsPrince

 

But after witnessing the heartwarming energy of the fans last year and hearing those echoes of hope continue to ring throughout The Land and across the country this year, I am sure that our faith has not faded. Our trust in our team is strong. We believe we can win because we’ve seen it, and we’ve seen it done well. We’ve also witnessed how a fan base can truly uplift or deflate their hometown heroes or sworn enemies depending on who’s turf we’re meeting on. And when we say ALL IN, it’s not because basketball is all we have, it’s because we’re giving one hundred percent just like our guys.

 

It’s an energy, connection, and love that breaks borders, boundaries, and bloodlines. But what we have in common is where we’re from and who we are playing for. We have pride in our team and our team embodies the spirit of our city. A city that we love and a city that deserves a championship. After all, we are all fans. Even LeBron is a fan. And he knows the power of the fandom, united. He even acknowledged the power of the Toronto fan base – which included Drake giving high fives at the end of the game. Not sure Lowry cared about Drake…But don’t feel sorry for Toronto. They played well. They still have hockey, sort of.

 

Drake raptors

 

It was great to see Mr. Cavalier, aka Austin Carr, stand with the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers to hoist that Eastern Conference Championship trophy above their heads. He’s been there since the beginning. He’s almost seen many a championship. But something tells me that this year is history in the making and I’m so happy he’s a part of it.

 

Whether it’s OKC or Golden State, I believe we are ready to take on either team. My dad, aka @SirFranksnBacon, aka the Dean of Cleveland Sports, Greg Brinda, recently quoted sworn Starfleet enemy, Khan, on his post game show, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” But if we play OKC we’ll have home court advantage, which means our fans will have a say in these first two games. Don’t worry. We won’t underestimate either opponent. We’ll have to make adjustments accordingly, but there’s a sense of calm and confidence that eases my fears. I’m not used to that feeling, and I’m not even sure of what to think about that right now, but I’ll take it.

 

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 20:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the final minutes of their 97 to 89 win over the Atlanta Hawks during Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 20, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

Just like the original Goonie, Mikey, preaches to his team from the depths of the Oregon coast, Don’t you realize? The next time you see sky, it’ll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it’ll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what’s right for them. Because it’s their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it’s our time. It’s our time down here. That’s all over the second we ride up Troy’s bucket.”

 

And we’re not riding up Troy’s bucket until we have a championship.

 

 


Whoomp There It Is! Cleveland Cavaliers go off

Written by :
Published on : May 6, 2016

 

Whoomp! There It Is! Whoomp! There It Is! Party people, it was a three point party at the Quicken Loans Arena this past Wednesday in round two, game two. The Cleveland Cavaliers took on the Atlanta Hawks at home­ not only to win it, but to break the record for most 3 point shots ever scored in a single NBA game!!! The record for any game was 23 set by the Houston Rockets in 2013 and Orlando Magic in 2009. The Warriors had previously set the playoff record 11 days prior (without Steph Curry), scoring 21 threes…but that didn’t last long!

 

The whole season all we heard about was Steph Curry shooting threes here, shooting threes there. But come playoff time, the Cavs have proven that they can do that too, and even better! Fact is, we have a lot of good three point shooters: J.R. Smith, Love, Irving (even though he can take it to the house quite well too), Frye, Williams, Jones (when they play him), LeBron, and hell yes Richard Jefferson! I’m sure I’m missing a few. PS. Anyone remember that dope one­-handed dunk from Shumpert? That’s just called keepin’ it real.

 

Cavs 2

 

So all this being said, I was secretly wishing and hoping that Mo Williams would have been the one to actually break the record by scoring the 24th three pointer last night. To my surprise, they brought in my beloved Mo come time the fourth quarter. The entire game I was wondering, where is Mo? Why don’t they ever play Mo? Dress Mo? My Mo prayers were answered.

 

But as soon as Mo got in the game, he started to pass the ball. Is this Tyronn telling him to ease off on the shooting? Don’t be a ball hog? I don’t know, but I wanted to see Mo reign and conquer. And he almost did… right after reserve, Dahntay Jones, broke the ice and the record. Mo’s three was like the cherry on top of the sundae. Magic Number 25! And being the class act that he is, he held the ball in the last moments of the Cavs possession, so as to not rub it in.

 

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. According to Charles Barkley, we were rubbing it in, maybe even being disrespectful to the Hawks. I don’t think so, Chuck. I love you, but you know that the Golden State Warriors would have taken advantage of the opportunity just the same ­they just wouldn’t have scored so many threes. And to touch on Barkley’s comment that the Hawks needed to take someone out of the game ­ this isn’t hockey, Chuck. Yes, the rules and regulations have made the NBA a bit soft, but this is not bush league. We saw enough of that last year.

 

charles-barkley

 

Sidenote: I think I saw LeBron and J.R. trying to convince Lue to put J.R. back in to make the record breaking shot. But maybe that was Lue’s way of punishing J.R. for folding under pressure just like Origami in the past. It’s okay. J.R. made his mark by making 7 out of 13 three point attempts. He was kind of the rain­maker after all.

 

Okay to recap the playoffs for the Cavs thus far:

 

1. The Cavs have dominated the Hawks so far and will hopefully sweep them just like last year.

 

2. The Pistons put up a good fight, especially in game one. Regardless, they kept the Cavs on their toes and prepared them for round two and another great three­ point shooting game.

 

3. Mo Williams will play sometimes. Just not sure how often.

 

4. The big three maybe meshing quite well now. And with the powerhouse three point
shooter J.R. Smith on a hot streak, maybe it’s the big four.

 

5. J.R. has not folded under pressure…yet. Hopefully, he can keep up his confidence and perform in the Playoffs / Finals accordingly.

 

6. Varejao has been returning to Cleveland for sleepovers. (I have no actual evidence of this, other than the massive amount of empty pizza boxes, curly hairs, and nacho debris left behind.)

 

 

Havin' a ball
                                                                            Havin’ a ball 

 

7. They look like they’re having fun. They look like they’re rested. They look good.

 

8. The Heat might be hot, but these Cavs are on fire!

 

9. J.R. Smith is the new Steph Curry.

 

10. Draymond Green should not be making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on air. It’s boring.

 

11. Bone Thugs N Harmony have already done one half time show. We’ll be seeing them at the Crossroads again soon. Thanks Uncle Charley and Uncle Drew.

 

12. We don’t care about second place.

 

13. I won’t make 25 points….I’ll just skip to 25.

 

25. Jock Jams are still cool. Let’s Go Cavs!

 

#AllIn4Realzthistime

 

 


Anderson Varejao – The Spy With Shaggy Hair

Written by :
Published on : March 11, 2016

 

 

 

I know what you’re thinking. Anderson Varejao is pissed. He got traded by the Cavs and now he wants revenge. So what does he do? He signs with the enemy – The Golden State Warriors. The team that unfortunately took home the NBA Finals trophy after a tough fought, six game battle. How could the team that he spent 12 years with just up and let him go like that? Especially when LeBron actually likes the guy. But how could you not like Anderson Varejao? That lovable smile, the gorgeous hair, and did I mention his amazing rebounding abilities?

 

He was Tristan Thompson’s mentor dognabit! And although some people might find this hard to believe, I think Cleveland grew on him. I know it’s no Brazil or Barcelona, but Clevelanders embraced him…so much in fact that on February 21st, 2006 they tried to break the world record for most people wearing a wig in a single venue. They were wearing the Anderson Varejao wig…20,562 of them! If that’s not love then I don’t want to know what love is. P.S. I sleep with my wig on every night. Just kidding. No, I’m not.

 

varejao Wig

 

I do honestly believe that he enjoyed living near the beautiful Great Lake of Erie, in a city with a booming medical-based economy. For a guy that has dislocated his right shoulder, torn a tendon is his right ankle, broke his wrist, suffered a blood clot in his lung, nursed some back problems, and most recently tore his achilles, it’s smart to play in a city with excellent medical care, fantastic Slavic food, hard-working individuals, lots of bowling alleys…you get my point. And yes, assume that I too love Cleveland.

 

Which leads me to my next point. Why did the Cavs get rid of him? I’ve talked to my father, long-time Cleveland sports radio personality, Greg Brinda, who admits that Varejao is a bit fragile. After all, he did miss most of the 2014-15 NBA season with his last injury. So given his track record and the fact that the Cavs kind of dominate in big ball basketball with a variety of effective power forwards and centers (even with Mr. Cement Hands, MOSGOV!!), the Cavs could actually use someone like Channing Frye, an experienced…wait! Another power forward/center?!! I guess he’s a superior perimeter shooter, but if it were me I probably would have traded for Kevin Durant. That could have happened, right?

 

Frye Varejao

 

Okay, so let’s get to the real reason why the Cavs traded Varejao to Portland who then released him, leaving him to sign with either the San Antonio Spurs, The Oklahoma City Thunder, The Atlanta Hawks, or yes The Golden State Warriors. So basically, Andy (I’m calling him Andy now), got his pick of the best kitty litter in town. Wow! Lucky him! Or was it luck at all? Maybe this was part of the Cavs’ ploy all along. And maybe, just maybe, Andy was in on it the whole time. Let me ask you. If you were nearing the end of your career, were prone to injuries, and wanted to be an effective component in helping your team win, why wouldn’t you sign with the enemy to gain valuable information that could be used to help the Cavs win? And then there’s the fact that Golden State really wanted him. So maybe Steph Curry’s looking for our secrets. Even better!

 

Steph Curry wants in on our secret plan. He wants to know what LeBron does before each game. How does he get that toned, muscular physique? How is he so versatile on the court? Sure, Steph is great at shooting threes, he’s versatile, good in clutch situations, but he’s small.  And when you mix in that CHILDISH mouth guard chewing habit, he looks like a junior-higher out there with his other small ball sidekicks.

 

steph mouthpiece

 

The Warriors won’t admit that they are scared. They have a great record. Right now, they are playing better than the Cavs or really any NBA team. And Curry is on track to get the MVP. Let me say that again…for right now. And with the recent firing of Coach David Blatt, I’m sure they think the pot is a stirrin’ in Cleveland. But deep down, they don’t want any surprises. They want to know what’s coming. And they want to grow…literally. So Andy will tell them: Salmon is out! Fuck salmon and all lean proteins! It’s all about the Barkley diet: Taco Bell for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! LeBron only works out once a week with a light jog and pilates. And Kyrie and Kevin Love? They are both on a similar meal plan and exercise regiments, but Kyrie substitutes pilates for Zumba and Love likes this new thing called Pop Pilates (it’s pilates to top music hits). Varejao will get them to believe this silliness, and hopefully the Warriors will begin to fizzle out.

 

But the truth is, it’s probably the other way around. The Cavs need to know the Warriors’ secrets. Now I love the CAVS! They are my team! But let’s be honest, they are not on track to beat the Warriors. And as my dad (aka @SirFranksnBacon) put it, “The Warriors are a fine-tuned machine. They are firing on all cylinders…not a lot of warts.” They play great defense, they obviously play superb offense, make clutch shots, and most importantly they have freakishly excellent team chemistry. CHEMISTRY. The only way the Cavs will stand a chance of beating the Warriors in the Finals is if the Big Three (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love) are consistently playing GREAT together. And since Coach Tyronn Lue took over with his fast-paced game approach, the Cavs defense has been lacking. That cannot happen when they get to the playoffs, let alone the Finals. Every member of the Cavs team needs to be on the same page, firing on all cylinders, with high-quality oil in the engine, if you know what I mean (#Gatorade).

 

cleveland big 3

 

So what’s the secret to the Warriors’ chemistry? That is what Andy is there to find out. I like to imagine that he just got home from a sleepover with his Warriors teammates. He’s thinking about the fun night that he just had…

 

Dream Sequence:

After hours of choreographing a dance to Informer and various hits from Jock Jams Volume 1, they make nachos with shredded beef, Velveeta, some diced tomatoes, chives, and sour cream. Then they watch Practical Magic and play Dream Phone. I can see Andy now, sitting across from Andre Iguodala. They are giggling as Andy answers the Dream Phone and gets his clue. “He loves pizza but he hates corn dogs!” They laugh, put on their pajamas, and turn on a scary movie. Probably The Exorcist. They all hold tight to their sleeping bags. Steph Curry bows out early. Says he has to put his daughter to bed, but really he’s just scared and maybe peed his boxers a little. As he’s tucking in little Riley, the bed begins to shake. He screams for his life! As his daughter tries to comfort him, Draymond Green peeks out from under the bed, smiling. “Got you this time, Stephy!”

 

“That wasn’t funny!” Steph yells, fighting back tears of horror. But Andy knows what to do in this situation. It’s time to play with each other’s hair. He’ll show them how he gets his curls to look this good. They brush, they braid, they laugh, and slowly fall asleep to the slower rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s, Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Together they dream of winning another championship, everyone except Andy who will wake in the middle of the night, lie beside Steph Curry and whisper into his ear, “Cavs Win,” softly, gently, until Steph’s pleasant dream turns into a horrifying nightmare.

End Dream Sequence

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, right, and Anderson Varejao, from Brazil, hug as the leave the floor late in the fourth quarter of a first-round NBA playoff basketball game against the Washington Wizards Sunday, April 22, 2007, in Cleveland. Cleveland won the first game of the best-of-seven series, 97-82. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

 

Andy will return home a few times this spring to coordinate the necessary bonding time that the Cavs need. Mo will be back, hitting threes like a boss. J.R. Smith won’t let the pressure get to him. Mosgov’s hands will become agile and coordinated. LeBron will show up to practice in his impressive Prince Halloween Costume to lighten the mood. The Big Three will be musketeering it up! Boobie Gibson will even perform his latest hip-hop hit, All In C-L-E, as the Cavs gear up for Game 7 of the Finals. They’ll laugh together. They’ll cry together. And by God, they’ll win together.

 

 


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