Thursday, May 26, 2011

Enough with the LeBron talk

When will it stop? Seriously, people… when will you have had enough? I have touched on it here, and gave some input here. Get over it, and stop talking about it. This morning while waiting for a meeting to start, two people behind me started jabbering about the Chicago Bulls. I did not mind this. I like the Bulls and I like their team. But then their conversation quickly turned to the Heat.

Oh boy. I know where this is going.

To their defense, these two guys did not sound like super involved/educated sports fans and neither, from what I gathered, was from Cleveland. But the convo went like the majority of Heat conversations go and I was forced to sit and listen to these bumpkins talk about how shady LeBron is. Gag me.

“I don’t like the Heat because of what LeBron did,” says the first guy.

“I don’t either and the Bulls are fighting for the little guys,” chimes in the second.

(Squeezing my sinuses non-stop, like I’m Mitch Kramer in Dazed and Confused. I sit there in disgust thinking to myself) You dipwads realize LeBron left Cleveland for a better team, better teammates, and a better financial situation… ALMOST A YEAR AGO! How is this still a talking point??!! In all likihood, if Florida had an income tax, LeBron would be in Bulls uniform right now and still playing with Wade and Bosh. Plus, I freaking GUARANTEE that you both rooted for the Celtics in 2007. Guaranteed.

First guy, “Totally agree.”

You two geniuses also realize that this team fighting for the “little guys” has the League MVP on it’s team, had the best regular season record, and is the Eastern Conference 1-seed? You get that, right? But I will agree, that in this series, the Bulls are the underdog. But don’t act like this is some sort of Cinderella Conference Finals appearance. The 1-seed is supposed to get to the Conference Finals, right?

At this point, I am so over eaves dropping on these dopes, I take my iPad out and start playing ‘Death Racer’. (Yes, it is worth the $1 dollar if you are wondering). However, the conversation had by these two reminded me of a three-way debate I recently entered with a solid sports fan—from Cleveland—over the Heat and LeBron. Although he did not like the way LeBron left, he is past the “how he left” (and he said he speaks for most die-hard Clevelanders in this regard) his main points were:

• He does not like LeBron because he is not inspiring
• He did not like that LeBron took the “I’m gonna do me” route
• Miami Fans are not even close to what Cleveland fans are
• Any ring he wins in Miami will be meaningless

The whole “I’m gonna do me” route has been defended here at HITS; the links are at the top of this column. I would like to focus on two of the other statements as well as lightly touch on the “inspiring” comment.

“ANY RING HE WINS IN MIAMI WILL BE MEANINGLESS”

I wish we would have had this debate via correspondence, because then I would have been able to use brackets (I love using brackets [more so than parenthesis] in writing) and could have written his point like this:

“Any ring he wins in Miami will be meaningless [to Cavalier’s fans].” Or like this; “Any ring he wins in Miami will be meaningless [to me].”

But I cannot write it like that because, not only was this debate in person, but this particular Cavs fan seriously meant that a LeBron ring in Miami would be meaningless. Period.

Like it or not LeBron’s first NBA ring will mean something. OK? Just because Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller say it will mean less than if he got one in Cleveland, does not make it true. How would they know? They never won a ring. Pretty damn sure it will mean a lot to LeBron James. So will the second one. And the third. And the fourth. And the fifth. It will mean something to Miami basketball fans. It will mean something to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. And Mike Bibby. I could go on but I will finish by adding that it will mean something to Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

***Inspiration side note (This is where the “inspiring” statement arose. I suppose, ‘To each, their own’ when it comes to what one finds inspiring.) Long story short, Cleveland is okay with Ilgauskas in Miami because he squandered his prime in Ohio. Once you are no longer good in Cleveland you can leave. This is a confusing point he made when I asked him why it was OK for Kevin Garnett to leave Minny to play ball with Pierce and Allen. His response was that Kevin Garnett spent 10+ years in Minnesota—AKA his prime—before he went to get his ring. He tried longer than LeBron did basically. From what I gathered, you can only “stab” or “betray” a team if you are good and in the meat of your prime. Only after this prime period has left you may one receive the fans blessing to get a ring elsewhere. Pretty much: NBA fans own players like slaves. Or at least this is the thinking in Cleveland…***

The problem I have with calling the ring generally “meaningless”, is it sounds too much like you cannot see past the end of your nose. Any credibility going in to the debate, quickly dwindles the further down the road we go with statements like that. The only people you have a shot at convincing, with a “ring becomes meaningless” comment, are either other Cavaliers fans or just stupid people who have no problem being told what to think. Show that you are willing to remove yourself from your fanship, at least in thinking. IF you will not make statements such those, ultimately, you will find people will be less likely to disagree with you. Every single New York Yankees World Championship, every single Los Angeles Lakers NBA Title, and every Pittsburgh Steelers Vince Lombardi Trophy is meaningless—but it is because I am a Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, Dallas Cowboy and Sacramento Kings fan. Of course they are meaningless… TO ME. But not in general. Come on, let us be grown up for a bit. Nobody is saying you cannot be bitter, but do not try and tell me that sour taste in your mouth is shared by everyone, because you lump me in to that category when you say that and I disagree.

Bottom Line: LeBron winning a ring, whether it be in Miami, Chicago, Washington, Seattle, LA, Houston, Cleveland, or wherever… is equally the same. I do not pretend that Boston’s 2004 and 2007 World Championships mean more than when other teams won theirs, because that simply is untrue. Winning is winning.

"MIAMI FANS ARE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO WHAT CLEVELAND FANS ARE"

For the large part; this is true. Cleveland fans did turn (key word) out more this NBA season, than Miami fans did. Keep in mind though, after the announcement that LeBron and Bosh were taking themselves to the place where—as the artist formally known as The Fresh Prince put it—

Water so clear you can see to the bottom//
100,000 dollar cars, everybody got 'em//

They sold out their entire season in 10 hours. It makes sense. With no records to compare and contrast with, the Miami Heat now had the best roster in the league; and arguably were the foreseeable best team in the NBA.

Anyways, in the debate, on this particular point of how solid Cleveland fans were—over Miami fans—I agreed. I continued to think this… until I did not. Hear me out.

On Monday, the Boston Red Sox made their trip down to Progressive Field for the first of three game series against the Cleveland Indians. For those of you that do not follow baseball at all, the Tribe currently carry the best record in baseball. Coming in to the series the Indians record overall was 29-15, and they were a stout 18-4 at home, another best in baseball.

In game one of the series, Boston pitcher Clay Buchholz, took the Sox in to the 8th inning with a 2-1 lead. The lead was blown by relief pitcher Daniel Bard, and the Cleveland Indians ended winning the game in thrilling fashion, 3-2. I did not get to watch the game live and watched the replay of the game from the 8th inning on. Nothing out of the ordinary stuck out. With game two, I was again unable to watch live and happily the highlights showed Boston winning 4-2. The very next day, the third and final game of the series was a matchup I was able to watch.

What makes this game kinky in juxtaposition to the first two games, besides watching it live, is the LeBron debate was renewed in my minds eye from my early mornings idiot encounter. All of the points made in debate were again fresh in my consciousness and I found myself looking at the seats behind home plate instead of the battle going on between pitcher and batter. On pop flies and foul balls, in lieu of watching can-of-corn outs, my focus fell on the crowd. Shots of the players in the dugout were overlooked as my gaze fell on these proud Cleveland fans. Only, there was one problem.

Where were they?

I thought Cleveland fans were the cat’s pajamas. Where were these “great” and “well above average” fans, whose baseball team—totally and completely uncharacteristic of itself—are found playing better than any other team in the Majors. Beyond that fact, you have a Tribe team, playing against a ballclub known for traveling well. The Boston Red Sox always boost the home clubs attendance. I did not get it; no one was at the park. I thought to myself, “What gives?” Are these not the fans responsible for 455 straight sell-out games over the span of five and half years? Should not the best team in The Show, sell out their games whether it is day or night? I checked the box score attendance for each game. Not what any would want it to be.

Game one: 19,225 fans.
Game two: 23,752.
And game three had the most with 26,408 people in the park.

That is an average of 23,128 fans. Progressive Field seats 43,345 people. Where are you Cleveland? As a Cleveland sports fan, how can you point your finger at the Miami Heat for not showing up during the NBA regular season when your fans are currently doing the same thing with its very own baseball team? What is even more peculiar about your lacking presence at Progressive Field, is it does not fit your fan track record. Like the majority of most sports bases, teams that play well get more people in the seats. The great fan bases show up regardless. After some consideration I just have to say sorry Cleveland. I cannot, in my honest evaluation, lump you in to the great fans bases. Maybe the Browns might get a free pass here, but I would have to look in to a bit closer. In regards to basketball however—sorry, I simply cannot do it after doing a bit of homework.

THE FIVE SEASONS PRIOR TO LEBRONS ARRIVAL

SEASON // TOTAL ATTENDANCE // AVERAGE PER GAME
1998-99 // 352,992 // 8,610
1999-00 // 603,702 // 14,724
2000-01 // 650,775 // 15,873
2001-02 // 596,115 // 14,539
2002-03 // 471,374 // 11,497

THE FIVE SEASONS AFTER LEBRONS ARRIVAL

SEASON // TOTAL ATTENDANCE // AVERAGE PER GAME
2003-04 // 749,808 // 18,288
2004-05 // 784,249 // 19,128
2005-06 // 792,391 // 19,327
2006-07 // 837,883 // 20,436
2007-08 // 839,074 // 20,465

LeBron James did not walk in to this great tradition that is Cleveland basketball. The Cleveland fan tradition is a byproduct of LeBron James. Say thank you Cleveland. You owe it to the King.

Bottom line: Taking your attendance numbers before and after James strolled in to Quicken Loans Arena, and what is currently going on with your baseball team—Cleveland fans are no different than Miami fans. Perhaps a bit better, but nowhere close to being leaps and bounds better.

IN CONCLUSION

The wheels are greased for the Heat to face the Dallas Mavericks for a 2006 NBA Finals rematch. This is the story that should be talked about and less of the same crap that has been recycled over and over for the past year. With Mark Cuban plotting about this in his secret lair for the last five years, this time around, I suspect the Mavericks will not repeat the same mistake they made in ’06 if they happen to get up 2-0 games to none on Miami. I thought it would be the Thunder and Heat, with Miami clinching in six, but with Dirk Nowitzki driving the coaches loco during the NBA playoffs… this series will go seven. It has to. The sports storybooks will not allow anything else.

Final thought: Causal fans that call the Chicago Bulls the ‘little guys’ are something that I need to get past. It appears that you are, at the very least, trying to be informed and making an attempt to form your sports opinions. We all have to start somewhere. There is no perfect science to any of it. Sports are the most objective thing ever. I thank you two anonymous geeks for your annoyance this past morning. I got a column out of it. And lastly: Get over yourself Cleveland. No one likes a sore loser. Save your tears for your pillow at night. If wasting your gifts on team that cannot help you anymore than it already has is something that you find inspiring, then so be it. I am inspired by people who are smart; and I mean that in general and with money. People know how to protect what is theirs (some may call it “I’m gonna do me” route) and most importantly—people put themselves in situations to accomplish their goals. Another way of saying it, is I am inspired by people who recognize their reality and remove themselves from situations that keep them from their goals. That is you Cleveland. You were the bad situation and that is why LeBron left. That is just who you are. Accept it. Did he do in the best way? No. But that does not change the fact y’all needed to break up regardless. Cleveland, you have more important things to do than root against LeBron and the Heat. I would be more focused on your two lottery picks. To cockily say, “I will debate LeBron’s departure as the wrong choice all day, and win” is the foolish attitude that will always keep you from what you want most. A championship.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Summer Sports & Movies

The summer brings perfect weather, which in turns brings in perfect riding conditions. Before the summer riding can begin, you have to do the spring tune up—which I did yesterday. I will not bore you with those details. So what else does summer do for us? It also has baseball in full swing, but as the Mariners and Red Sox chase .500 ball, I do not feel like writing a column on them… just yet. OK, what about basketball? My picks are almost 3 out of 4 so far. Maybe I can do a Finals preview, but not now. So what then? Hmmm…

Movies are simply fantastic. I credit 9% of who I am today to the movies I watched while growing up. Films like Back to the Future, Rocky IV, Silverado, The Man from Snowy River, Over the Top, Teen Wolf, Big Trouble in Little China, The Sword in the Stone, Jungle Book, Big, The Goonies, The Princess Bride, The Rocketeer, Three Ninjas, Camp Nowhere, Cool Runnings, Home Alone, Young Guns, Cool As Ice, Gleaming the Cube, Kuffs, My Blue Heaven, The Sandlot, Little Giants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—but NOT Turtles Lost in Time; that one sucked—Uncle Buck, Tommy Boy, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore… I could go on and on and on.

I love movies. In ways, I think that they define us and what we secretly hope to become. We see ourselves vicariously. And it does not take much for us to be convinced that any given situation is possible. Just show us that you are taking some sort of effort to sound legit and my mind will do the rest. Take Jurassic Park for a prime example.

Dinosaurs. How? Simple.

- Mosquitoes have been around since the dawn of time.
We do not actually know this, but they are a bug and my mind tells me that the world has always had bugs—especially mosquitoes.
- Mosquitoes live off the blood of others.
Dinosaurs were the only thing living at the time that had blood. The mosquitoes drank this. We are right with you on the logistics of the scientific process JP.
- In theory, a mosquito could have bitten a dinosaur and moments later, unluckily landed in some tree sap, only to eventually be engulfed by massive amounts sap.
I do not know anything about the molecular qualities of tree sap or when it hardens, but if you said to me that it becomes as durable as adamantium in it’s hardened state—I’d believe it.
- Archeologists discover this sap-trapped insect while digging.
Totally possible.
- Some super smart scientist thought it would be a good idea to test these mosquitoes for DNA
Technology is at its peak and anything is possible. It is 1993 after all.
- Dinosaur DNA is mainly intact—all we have to is plug in some frog DNA to fill in the missing links and we can engineer a dinosaur.
Obviously. Duh. You’re super smart scientist and, again, this is 1993. I believe everything you are saying right now, almost to the point that it is trying to be too technical. I am definitely going to overlook the bit about using frog DNA and not even wonder if it will part of the plot twist later in the movie. Show me the dinosaurs already.

That was all of us in 1993. We believed that. I still believe that actually. It met the could-this-maybe-sort-a-happen criteria and we were good. That is all we needed logistically so all the studio had to do was just hit us with some cool special effects and a killer soundtrack that will define its time. Da-da-daaaa-duum-dum. Da-da-daaa-duum-dum. Da-da-du-daaaa-duum-duum-daaaaaaaa. You know exactly what tune that is!

Big, over the top movies are what make the summer so fun. For me, Jurassic Park was the first giant/big movie that I can recall. I remember seeing it with my dad and being blown away even more than I already was, because he was blown away. I thought, “This movie is awesome, but I am just kid. He is a grown up and he thinks it is just as cool as I do. It must the best movie ever!” And I think it is cool that Hollywood keeps ‘em coming every year. I am talking to you Michael Bay. Do you brother. Do. You.

I have never understood why people jump all over Michael Bay movies. I for one love them. This is the guy that gave us Bad Boys, Armageddon, The Rock, Pearl Harbor (which did not go over well with audiences, but I liked it very much) and obviously all of the Transformer movies. He is the big movie guy. I do not go to his flicks wanting gripping, oscar-worthy performances. And neither should you. Other people can make those movies. I like those movies too, but every now and then you need your visual fix. This summer, when the weather is sticky, thick, and hot outside; do you want to be in an air-conditioned theater slurping down an icy Coke watching a Geoffrey Rush in Shine type portrayal… OR do you want to see the bad-guy transformer eat a skyscraper while a supermodel runs in slo-mo at an iMAX? I am going with the latter. I am going with the latter almost six times this summer.

SUMMER LINEUP:

Thor (in theatures)
‘The Boss’ and I saw this a couple of days ago. We liked it. I liked the part where Thor kickes some Frost Giant ass; ‘The Boss’ liked the parts with Thor. It was funny because after the movie was over, ‘The Boss’ said she knew that the antagonist in the movie was going to be the bad one because he had the darker hair. Nice try Hollywood, but there is no fooling ‘The Boss’.

X-Men: First Class (June 3rd)
They could make 30 of these movies and I would go to every one because I watched this every morning before I got ready for Kindergarden. And perhaps I collected and still own my X-Men Fleer trading cards. My only hiccup is that they need to make Gambit, like, super awesome. I am sorry, Tim Riggins, you did not cut it in X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Green Lantern (June 17th)
***Disclaimer*** I am happy this is being made, but fear this might start some sort of ‘Green Curse’ and go the route of The Green Hornet and totally suck. And I am sure they break it down and make it OK by using the Jurassic Park movie formula to explain why Ryan Reynolds is the Green Lantern—but I still want my Green Lantern to be black. Just sayin’.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (July 1st)
Saw the trailer at the midnight showing of Fast Five (loved it BTW; and there is totally going to be a part 6) and I have thrown it in to my don’t-watch-any-of-the-previews excitement category. What this means, is that if I see one trailer for a movie and the trailer gets me SOOO pumped, I force myself to not watch—or listen—to any more of that movie’s trailers, so when I go and see the actual movie, every scene blows my mind. I have been known to do this for all of the Batman, Ironman, and Transformers movies.

Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22nd)
Chris Evans as Captain America? I’ll buy it. ‘The Boss’ is d-e-f-i-n-i-t-e-l-y buying it. My questions is this: Chris Evans, you played the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four franchise, which is part of the Marvel Universe that Captain America exist in… and the Fantastic Four eventually join The Avengers… which is also a movie of the same name that drops next summer… which will you choose? Regardless, I look forward to you killing a bunch of Nazi’s this July.

I am just now, as I type this, coming to the realization that I would thoroughly enjoy Comic-Con. Let my nerd out to stretch it’s legs some. I would for sure have a geek attack and could not help but write a 6000-word column that nobody would read. I am going this year. I have made up my mind. And by “am” I really mean “I would” if ‘The Boss’ allowed it. That and both the 4-day and 1-day passes are sold out. I checked already.

Monday, May 2, 2011

God bless America

The team at HITS takes a break to pay homage to the disposing of one of The United States of America's biggest foes.

It was one of the starting weeks in my junior year of high school. I had arrived at our campus administration building—students called it ‘The Mall’—forty-five minutes early to school to work on a project. It was quiet except for the light sound coming from one of the televisions, which were dotted throughout our campus. I paid the TV set no mind as I took a drink from the water fountain; that was of course, until I heard the phrase “hijack” and saw images of two smoldering buildings.

Video of two towers in New York City burning and a replay of a plane crashing in to one of them were trying to be digested by my mind, when all of sudden, one of the towers collapsed. I remember the chill that trickled down my neck and back, all the way to my heels.

The rest of the events of that day kind of get blurred together, as well as the coming weeks and months—what I do remember is a collective patriotism washing over this great country.

Now, a decade later, the man behind the attacks, whose actions led to the coining of the term 9/11, has been killed. I speak for every American when I say: good riddance. Personally, I want to express my thanks to the troops over these past ten years and give a special hooyah to the boys of the JSOC team that whooped some Taliban ass in recovering Osama bin Laden’s lifeless body.

God bless America.