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Archive for March, 2008

Indians Opening Day – live thoughts (updated)


It’s 2:45, I turned my radio and first thing I heard, “THIS TEAM IS INCREDIBLE!” in the familiar, exciting and quality voice that is Tom Hamilton. Now, I’m ready for some Cleveland Indian baseball. All I need is my hot dogs (will be eating them shortly) and to hear Tommy H yell his classic “A swing and a drive… way back… GONE!”

 

This should, and I stress should, be a great season for the Tribe. For the first time in a long, the Indians open the season with such high expectations. Yes, there was some last year and in 2006, but this year is different. This is a team that was one out away from a World Series title (have I mentioned that). If you believe in omens, how about the weather somehow getting nice and becoming a perfect day for baseball in March, 54 degrees.

 

> C.C. Sabathia vs. Mark Buehrle. They have faced each other nine times. C.C is 5-0 and Buehrle is 0-5. I like those numbers.

 

> First pitch a strike. Second pitch strike. Ground ball, out one. C.C. is perfect. Anyone else smell a perfect game.

 

> Never mind, four pitch walk to Orlando Cabrera.

 

> Damn, Thome, two-run home run. Who said something about a good year for the Indians and C.C.? Let’s go Tigers!!!

 

> Good offensive start for the Indians – flyout, groundout, strikeout looking. Solid.

 

> Since I have to work during the game, a can of Dr. Pepper, snack bag of Rold Gold tiny twist pretzels and Hebrew National hot dogs cooked on a Foreman have to do the job of a draft beer, box of popcorn and ballpark dogs. FYI, Hebrew National hot dogs are the great thing this side of a footlong chilli dog. You wonder how a hot dog can have so much flavor. Just splendid.

 

> First hit of the year, Victor Martinez. 

 

> Franklin Gutierrez 3-run blast. I’m back on the band wagon. Now Grady does it. Just like last year (he hit the first pitch of the year for a home run). Tommy H didn’t use famous home run call on the Gutierrez homer, but he did for the Sizemore dong. (Mmmm, Sizemore dong.) That’s what I needed (the Hamilton call, not the Sizemore dong reference).

 

> How much do you think Chicago hates playing Cleveland in the first game of the year? Well, I know Buehrle hates it. Here we go 0-6, here we go.

 

> This rally started after I finished my hot dogs. I think I’ll go eat two more just to continue the rout.

 

> Buehrle gone. Hamilton keeps saying Buehrle pitching the opener last year, but I looked it up and it was Jose Contreras. Some better tell him soon.

 

> Oh no. Vic hurt. Hope he is OK. At least we have the best backup catcher in baseball. This what we get for me not eating a hot dog when I say I’m going to.

 

 ———-

 


> Jim Thome is killing C.C. What’s up with that? I thought he didn’t have a back anymore.

 

> The two pitches to Thome are the only mistakes C.C. made. He’ll be fine. I’m saying about 6.2 innings giving up no more runs. Then we’ll see how good the bullpen is again this year.

 

> Vic, will be listed as day-to-day with tightness in the hammy. Better than a pull.

 

> C.C. bare hands a grounder. Nice play I’m sure but C.C., remember that scene in Bull Durham when Kevin Costner gets Tim Robbins to hit him with his non-pitching hand? That’s like you on the mound. You use your bare hand too much. You have a glove. Use it please before you break a finger.

 

> Kansas City has took the lead on Detroit. Glad I’m not on the Tigers band wagon any more.

 

> Now, 7-5 thanks to C.C.’s two walks and Casey Blake’s stellar defensive plays. 

 

> Sugardale really couldn’t get a new commercial for a new season? They have the same, “what am I going to do with the left over hot dog, don’t worry about it, they come in re-sealable bags now” commercial. First, this is a horrible commercial. Second, is that really a reason to buy hot dogs. A re-sealable bag? Third, you couldn’t think of a new marketing concept over the winter?

 

> C.C. done. Now it’s up on to the bullpen to show their stuff and hold the win for C.C. First up, Jensen Lewis. He should go six and seven then Rafael Perez then Joe-Bo. At least that’s how it should work on paper.

 

> KC wins. Cleveland has to take advantage of the loss and take a one-game lead for first place.

 

> Lewis is great. Two strikeouts. 

 

> OK, after 5:00 now. I’m out. What a productive day of work. 

 

GO TRIBE!!!

 

Fratello

 

Fratello

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A No. 1 Final Four


All you Sally’s that picked all four No. 1 seeds to make the Final Four must be as happy as a slippery elephant on Christmas morning. Way to go “out on a limb” and pick the best four teams. I hope you are proud of yourself this morning.

 

Take out the Davidson-Kansas game and it really wasn’t a very entertaining series of games. Throw in a Cavs game against Detroit where even Davidson, hell even Coppin State could have beat them, and it was a Saturday night I’d rather be watching Sex in the City than watching the games (Graig may have been doing this). 

 

Friday night gave us no close games. The only game worth watching was the Davidson game because of Stephen Curry. The rest, blow outs, much like Thursday’s games minus Xavier-WVU.

 

Other thoughts from the weekend of college basketball.

 

> North Carolina is really good. They are so good even outplayed Washington State at their slow down game, out ran Louisville and over came the coaching/usually early exits of Roy Williams. 

 

> UCLA is not. I can’t enjoy watching them play. The main reason, besides how lucky the get with how sloppy they play, one Lorenzo Mata-Real. My goodness is that one ugly kid. He makes Kevin Love look like a GQ model. Remember when Lorenzo Mata-Real was just Lorenzo Mata? Remember when he was a starter on their Final Four team two years ago? Why the name change? Does he want to get Real with it? How bad do you have to be to lose your starting spot when you become a junior and senior? Because of him, and that stupid golden ‘C’ on the uniforms, I hate UCLA.

 

>I’m glad I’m one of the six people outside of Memphis to pick them. They are going to win it all. 

 

>Kansas, damn you. Thanks for ruining everyone’s Sunday. If KU can’t handle Davidson and one scorer, what are they going to do with North Carolina?

 

> Stephen Curry, I still love you but where did you go in the second half? I don’t agree with the idea of letting Curry bring the ball up the court in those final 16 seconds, down two? Kansas knows he is going to want to shoot the ball so all they have to do is jump and double team him. Davidson should have let Richards bring the ball up the court, run Curry of screens and look to shoot. That’s what got them to the Elite 8, that’s what  could have got them to the Final Four. Even if Curry doesn’t get open, Richards could have taken it to the hoop scored like he did several times during the game. Or, use Curry as a decoy and give it to that Barr guy who was knocking down 3’s like he was Curry. It just wasn’t the smart play. 

 

> I just really hope UNC doesn’t win it all. You know that would mean, right? A about a week of SportsCenter spending 54 of the 60 minutes on Tyler Hansbourgh. 

 

> The final minutes of the UNC-L’ville game was like a tribute to him. Jim Nance and Billy Packer took turns praising him and loving him and worshiping him and basically doing everything but running out on to the court and bowing to him. I don’t get it. He’s a good college player, maybe even a great one, but he isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Christian Laettner? Cherokee Parks? Bobby Hurley? Everyone praise him for how hard he works. One, shouldn’t everyone work as hard as they can all the time? Why praise him for something everyone should be doing? Two, he has to work harder than everyone else. He’s just a white guy who isn’t as talented as the others on the floor. I just hope he goes pro this year so we don’t have to hear about him next year and he can fade into oblivion with the rest of the white college all stars who can’t do anything in the NBA.

 

> This tournament reminded me again how great DVR  is. I watched a lot of the games on tape delay and so happy I did. CBS is trying so hard to push commercial breaks down our throats like we are $5 prostitutes. Stop it. We don’t need to know that your better is better than my better every stoppage of play. When a team calls a 30 second timeout in the final minute, how about letting the announcers do their job and break down the game. The only time commercial breaks should happen every dead ball is when Billy Packer is doing a game. Then you go to commercial but tell Packer he is still live and let him talk so we won’t hear what he as to say when the game comes back on. This commercial break pattern is more annoying than the touchdown-commercial-kickoff-commercial routine in football. 

 

> My favorite moment(s) of all the games this weekend were the shots of the band. Band people are funny. Most have never played the sport, or any sport for that matter and have no idea what is going on in the game. They only cheer when the fans around them do. During the UNC-L’ville game, after a big bucket, it might have been one of Hansbourgh’s shots to put the game out of reach, the cameras cut to the UNC band. There were about three or four fat white guys trying to high-five each other. They did the girlie high five with the hand flat and perpendicular to the ground and then extended their arm in the direction of the person do the same thing, hoping their hand movement would result in a high five and in return, show people they knew their basketball. However, several of the high five attempts missed and while two were attempting this ritual they don’t fully understand, the other was left with his hand, still in the high five form, looking around aimlessly for someone in his same situation.

 

> Can someone please tell me what “I Am Legend” has to do with introducing a basketball game? These pregame preveiws/highlights/set the stage videos used to be one of my favorite things to watch. Now they suck. Saturday’s was centered on that horrible Will Smith movie and Sunday’s was on Pontiac’s new car that ended with the phrase “Buckle up!” Creative CBS.

 

If you didn’t notice, I was kind of disappointed with the games this weekend. But the Selection Committee must be patting themselves on the back for having their top four teams make it to the Final Four. And CBS must be extremely happy. They can market this as the “first time ever” and the “four best survived” to get viewers to their broadcasts. It actually should be a good Final Four. I’ll still with my original prediction of Memphis over UNC in the final. 

 

But, hey, enough basketball talk. Today is Opening Day for the Tribe. The game isn’t until 3:00 so we have a while to wait but it’s worth it. I’ll be back during the game for some updates and thoughts on the season as I listen to the greatest baseball play-by-play man in the game, Tom Hamilton. 

 

GO TRIBE!!! (Seal and Wes, I expect some good stories tomorrow from the game.)

 

 

Fratello

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2008 MLB Preview


Once again, Seal’s final comment from yesterday’s post has spurred today’s (I was going to do this post anyway but his comment is a good lead). Go Tribe!!! is what he said. Go Tribe indeed. The season opener is just three days away, on Monday, and it promises to be an interesting season. First, why is the Tribe opening at home in March? Didn’t MLB schedulers learn anything from last year’s snow outs? Does it make any sense to play in Cleveland when no one has done anything outside beside shoveling snow since October? Not only that but then the Tribe plays out West for six games. Why not just open out west, play some games in a dome somewhere, i.e. Minnesota or Seattle, then come home? I appreciate opening the season at home but I’d appreciate it more if the games could actually be played.

 

An article in the Plain Dealer said the field is no where near playable. The head groundcrew member said they only had one productive day to work on the field in March. With more rain/snow/sleet over the weekend, there’s no way it’s ready to play Monday. 

 

As for the season itself, plenty of questions surround the Indians as they try to win one more game this year. 

 

Is Fausto really an ace in the making or will he come back to earth?

Will Hafner go back to his 2006-05 days?

Why are David Delluicci and Jason Michaels are the left fielder over Ben Francisco and how long until that tandem is traded?

Is Asdrubal Cabrera for real?

Do they have a collapse after a good season like they did in 06?

Can Paul Byrd and Cliff Lee still be solid back end starting pitchers?

How many people will die of heart attacks when Joe Borowski tries to save a game?

Will Kobayashi have more strikeouts or hot dogs eaten?

When will Wedge break out the beard? Will he go with the mustache this year?

How long until Andy Marte is traded? End of May?

Will the bullpen be as reliable as last year? Will the staring pitching?

Will this be the year a fan dies by eating too many hot dogs on dollar dog night? Will it be me or someone I know (front runner is Jon)?

 

A lot of questions that we should see the answer to by the middle of May. For a team that was one win away from a World Series title (I think it safe to assume they would have beat the Rockies), they did little to ensure that extra win. However, they didn’t need to do that much. They have well balanced team. If Hafner comes around again, the offense is as dangerous as any. C.C. and Fausto should continue to be one of the best pitching tandems in the league and as soon as Michaels and Dellucci are gone, the outfield will be one of the best (probably an overstatement, but at least very good). Do they have enough to win the division again? Absolutely. And even if they didn’t, I would never pick the Tigers.

 

Here’s how the season will go down. (If this is anything like my recent predictions, this is the exact opposite of what will happen.)

 

AL EAST

 

1. Boston – I hate them but they get it by default. I would never pick the Yankees, and I really don’t think they’ll win the division anyway, and who is left? The Blue Jays? Come on. Every year “they” say they are ready to challenge for the division and every year they fall out of it by early June. The Rays? The Orioles? Hahahahahaha, Rays and Orioles. They suck.

2. New York – again, by default.

3. Toronto 

4. Rays

5. Orioles

 

AL CENTRAL – Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe!

Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe! Let’s go Tribe!

 

OK, maybe it’s a homer pick but the Tribe will win the division again.

 

2. Detroit – I pick the Indians mainly because I’m a fan but also because as good as the Tigers offense will be, the pitching will be equally as bad. They have the only closer worse than Joe-Bo and do you really trust Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson? Or even Dontrelle Willis? They’ll get the wild card though.

 

3. Chicago, Kansas City and Minnesota. Who cares? They all will be awful. Remember when the AL Central used to be the most competitive. Cleveland and Detroit will be up by 20 games on next closest.

 

AL WEST

 

1. Seattle Mariners – I just hope so because I’m sick of the LA Angels and Oakland A’s. 

2. Angels.

3. Oakland

4. Texas

 

As for the minor league that is known as the National League, I’m not going to pretend I know anything about it. So I’ll just randomly pick the division winners.

 

NL East – the easy pick is the Mets. On paper they are the most talented. But how can you pick a team that blows it faster than a virgin. I’ll take the Phillies.

 

NL Central – I just hope someone finishes over .500 this year. The best of the worst, hell, how about Houston.

 

NL West – This could be a good division again. I’ll take the Dodgers this year in what will be the best pennant race. The wild card will go to the Diamondbacks.

 

PLAYOFFS

Cleveland over Seattle

Detroit over Boston

 

LA Dodgers over Houston

Philadelphia over D’backs

 

Cleveland over Boston

LA Dodger over Philadelphia

 

Cleveland is your WORLD SERIES CHAMPION!!! (what did you expect)

 

Monday it all begins. I can’t wait to sit at work, pretend to do work and listen to Tom Hamilton. Go Tribe!!!

 

 

Fratello

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Happy Anniversary to me!!!!


I feel like dancing like Mark Madsen today. Just yesterday we celebrated Joe Tait for his 3,000th game broadcasting the Cavs and today there is even a bigger reason to party. Today, J Beanie Sports turns one year old. That’s right. It’s the first anniversary for J Beanie. 

 

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On this day, one year ago I wrote my first post, creatively titled, Welcome Sports Fans. We’ve come a long way since then. At first, this was suppose to be a two man effort but the other half predictably dropped out after a few dedicated posts (in reality, it was one weak post and then he was gone from us like Billy Thomas from the Cavs). In the early days, we struggled to find a niche. I think the only visitors were my brother and dad and few people I emailed. But J Beanie was born at the right time. March/April is such a good time in the sporting calendar with the NCAA tournament, the NBA season winding down/playoffs starting, baseball season getting under way and the Masters coming up soon. It was the perfect time to open a sports blog. During the Cavs playoff run, J Beanie had it’s most visitors (hoping that happens again). 

 

This is quite a feat for me. I never thought I’d be doing this stupid little site for a year. I started it just to have some fun and talk about what was happening in the world of sports. Joe Tait thought he was special for 3,000 Cavs games, he’s got nothing on me. He has days off and is paid for what he does. I write something everyday (almost). In the estimated 260 weekdays since last March 27, I’ve posted something 264 times, and that’s not even including holidays I’ve missed. That’s dedication. And not only do I get some thoughtful, well written, funny, insightful, accurate (all that is up for debate) but I have to do it at work without getting caught. (Sure, it helps that all I do is type and write at work anyway but it still takes some slyness.) 

 

I’ve been looking back over my posts. I wanted to do a top ten of my favorite post but one, that would take way to much time to read them all, two, I’m sure you all either don’t care or already have your favorites bookmarked and read them everyday for motivation, and three, I loved them all. They are all so good. 

 

I think J Beanie is good for Cleveland sports. Although we haven’t won anything yet, the teams have enjoyed their best years in a long time since J Beanie come to exist. The Browns are finally a real football team again, the Cavs won the Eastern Conference and the Indians were a game away from going to, and winning, the World Series. J Beanie has been here to document it all. 

 

We have seemed to settle into a small little group here who read J Beanie’s nonsense everyday and few who comment daily and others who do it occasionally. (Come on, the more comments the more fun. Think of comments as beers. The more you drink/post, the more fun it is for others to make fun of you.) I appreciate the following and thank you for sticking with me through my grammar mistakes and horrible predictions. I really enjoy doing this everyday and hope you get a little enjoyment from it yourself. I know it isn’t the greatest thing world but it’s something. I’m like the softcore porn of sports blogs. It’s not the best but it’s still porn and it gets you going. If you want hardcore porn you go to some other, more newsworthy site. Here’s to another year. Thanks.

 

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A couple thoughts on the Cavs game last night. A tough loss in a winnable game. 

 

> Why was the go-ahead basket by LBJ with 7 seconds left only his second shot of the fourth quarter? 

 

> More Damon Jones less Wally.

 

> Why did Mike Brown take a timeout after the Cavs got a stop on the defensive possession before LBJ go-ahead bucket? They had momentum from the stop and only one timeout left. The Hornets were going to get another possession. He should have just let LeBron do his thing. Instead he called his last timeout. LeBron made a nice play off the out-of-bounds play but in the end that timeout killed them. They could have used it to advance the ball to half court with 0.6 left after David West’s shot and had a chance to at least get a decent look instead of LeBron throwing up a full court shot that wasn’t going to go in unless it was a Powerade commercial.

 

> I thought the halftime tribute to Joe Tait was pretty weak. Tait looked as uncomfortable as a seventh-grade boy at an all girl dance. It was just awkward. And how come there wasn’t a highlight of all Tait’s famous calls. I think that would have pumped up the crowd.

 

> However, Gordon Gund was great. Saying Tait looked as good as ever was awesome. 

 

> Did you see Tait, after his speech, stick his hand out to shake Gund’s hand? Tait just left his hand there, I think not realizing Gund couldn’t see it. Finally, Danny Ferry put their hands together to shake. Kind of comical.

 

 

Fratello

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Regional Final weekend


I wanted to dive into some Sweet 16 talk this afternoon because I got a special post for tomorrow. On paper the games are should be good ones. I don’t think anything will rival the games from 2005 when three of the four Regional Final games went into overtime, but this has potential to be up there.

 

All the 1’s are left and the best two two seeds are still around. (I think we can all agree the two seeds that are out aren’t going to be missed. No one likes Duke and everyone outside of Washington D.C. would take Davidson over Georgetown) There are three double digit seeds, some how two Big Ten schools and a couple match ups of clashing styles.

 

Starting in the East, the top four seeds remain. Suddenly Louisville is the sexy sleeper. Chris Loften is ailing and don’t know how well or how much he will play against L’ville. (Saying L’ville reminds me, what ever happened to that show K’Ville? I think this may be the one good thing to come from the writer’s strike, that show is gone and hopefully all the actors and creators are buried in a mass grave somewhere.) I’m sticking with Tennessee. 

 

UNC and Washington State. UNC scoring over 100 both games and Washington State allowing 40 and 41 points. As good as WSU defense is, UNC’s offense is better. 

 

UNC and Tennessee in the regional final. This will be a game I will not miss. It will be high scoring and entertaining. I’m torn between taking Tennessee because I love them and Roy Williams pulling a Roy Williams or UNC winning because they are the better team. I took UNC in the original bracket but I’m switching to UT. 

 

In the South, the potential Memphis, Texas match up could be as wildly entertaining as the UT-UNC one. I think both teams will cruise in the Sweet 16 games and meet with a trip to the Final Four on the line. Everyone keeps expecting Memphis to fall. They play in a weak conference, they can’t shoot free throw, blah, blah blah. They are the most talented team in the field. I’m sticking with them to win it all.

 

In the Midwest, my man crush love Stephen Curry has been the talk of the tournament. My heart says pick them over Wisconsin by brain says take Wisconsin (despite them being a Big Ten school). It doesn’t really matter since Kansas will go to the Final Four. I hope I’m wrong here and Stephen Curry and Davidson pull a George Mason. As unlikely as it seems, I’m not going to say it’s impossible. 

 

The only team with an easier path to the Final Four is UCLA. UCLA needed another gift from the refs to hang on against Texas A&M (how come there wasn’t a bigger uproar about the no foul call on the final attempt by A&M). As easy as the path has been/is for the Bruins to reach the Final Four, I’m going to pick against them. I’m taking Xavier here. They’ll take care of WVU. They always beat Cincinnati when Huggins coached there so that will be no different than him coaching at West Virginia. Xavier matches up well with UCLA and has enough to squeak passed them in the most exciting game of the weekend.

 

UNC-Tennessee, Memphis-Texas, Kansas-Davidson, UCLA-Xavier. Maybe this weekend does have a chance to surpass Sweet 16 weekend from 2005.

 

Fratello

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WHAM, with the right hand


All fans attending tonight’s game at Quicken Loans Arena between the Cavs and Hornets will receive an old, large, multi- and clashing-colored sweater that has more colors and than a 64 pack of Crayola crayons. That might not be true but it should happen. When you think of Cavs radio play-by-play man Joe Tait, after you think of “WHAM, with the right hand,” you think of the ugly sweaters from the 1970s that couldn’t have been popular even then. 

 

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Bad bad sweat jokes aside, congratulations to Joe Tait. Tonight he will call his 3,000th career Cavs game. The Cavs will rightfully honor Tait at the game more appropriately than handing out ugly sweaters (although if you are going to the game, Rosie, you should wear one to honor the best voice in the NBA). There will be a halftime ceremony where the Cavs will remain his booth the “Joe Tait Perch.” I’m sure there will be many other things going on too including a video and audio highlight reel of Joe Tait’s most famous calls. That will be thrilling to see. I get excited every time I hear his voice.

 

I may be bias but I think he is the best radio voice in basketball, if not all of sports. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy him. We all have our favorite “Taiter’s” (I like that word for Tait’s famous lines). My favorite “Taiter” is “WHAM with the right hand.” I think that is most peoples. I also love when he talks about DiGiorno Pizza (may be the only one to like it more than Austin Carr), “operators are standing by” then says “someone get them a chair,” every whistle he’ll say “and now what?”, he isn’t afraid to criticize the refs and is about the only announcer to still call out his team when they aren’t playing well and will question certain moves.

 

I don’t listen to Tait that much anymore since every game is on TV now. The only time I get to is I’m at work late or driving around during a game. When I was a kid, and all the games weren’t on TV, I would always turn Tait on. I used to sneak a radio into my room and fall asleep listening to Tait’s call. I remember I laying in bed listening to Tait when Michael Jordan made the series winning buzzer beater shot in either 92 or 93. I was so sad and you could tell Tait was too. As sad as he sounded then, last year when the Cavs won the Eastern Conference, Tait couldn’t have sounded happier and it was great to hear Tait describe the scene. 

 

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Tait has a unique way to call the game. Some times it’s bizarre and strange, some times it’s funny, but it’s always entertaining, accurate and insightful. Tait is old school and really takes the time to paint the picture for fans by describing the uniforms, court and arena. Dan Gilbert rightfully gave Tait a life time contract last year. Tait is more than the voice of the Cavaliers, he is the Cavaliers. I don’t know what it’s going to be like when he finally retires. But we can worry about that then. For tonight, I’m going to put on one of my dad’s old ugly sweaters in honor of Tait, eat a DiGiorno’s Pizza and turn on my radio at 7:00. Congrats, Joe.

 

 

Fratello 

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I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out


Friday’s NCAA Tournament games were as exciting and entertaining and Thursday’s were bad and boring. But by now you’ve read everything you could have possibly read on the games so I’m going in a different direction. No more college basketball talk with the exception of confessing my love for Dell’s amazing son Stephen Curry.

 

Saturday night I didn’t even watch basketball. What could possibly pull me away from watching the greatest tournament of all-time, you ask yourself. Let’s just say the night involved a long car ride, a free T-shirt, one crazy man, one annoy girl and a stolen hockey helmet. 

 

I know the athletic trainer for the Youngstown Steelhounds, a minor league hockey team of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He got me a couple passes to go to their game Saturday night, the season finale. I gathered up the Girlfriend, Girlfriend’s Brother and Girlfriend’s Brother’s Wife No. 1 (no real reason for the No. 1 but just in case there ever is a No. 2, we’ll know the difference) and we headed for Y’town. 

 

First, Youngstown may be the crappiest town of all time. There was no traffic, no one walking the streets and no building looking like it was built after 1888. It felt like we were in a atomic blast and they only ones alive in the city as we drove around. The only two places where there was any activity was the restaurant we went to and the hockey arena. (The restaurant, despite the name, MVR, was fantastic and one of the top three of Italian restaurants I have ate at recently.) 

 

I’ll skip all the formalities and get to the good stuff. The game was great because there were so many fights. The game itself was boring with Youngstown trailing 2-0 going into the third period, but the fights made it worth it. (Stephen Curry is amazing.) There was at least a small scuffle every stoppage of play. As the game was winding down with Youngstown trailing 2-1, I wanted to make my way over to where the players exit the ice so I could grab the trainer I know and thank him for the passes. Then with 40 seconds left, the Steelhounds tied it up. Now the game was heading to overtime. After a short debate of leaving or not (GFBW-1, wanted to leave because they have a one-and-half year old she wanted to get home to). Since the OT was just five minutes we stuck around. Overtime was uneventful but it was followed by a shootout. Youngstown won the shootout 2-1. This is when the real fun began.

 

This was the third game in four days between Youngstown and Colorado. Doing a series like that may work in non-contact sports like baseball, but in hockey, emotions carry over and players don’t forget who checked them in the last shift or the last game. I think this is why there were so many fights. Anyway, as Youngstown was celebrating their win on the ice, Colorado was making their way off. I had made it to the ground level and was standing right by the door and hallway where the players would leave the ice. (Stephen Curry is great.) Then, a fight broke out on the ice. I feared for the life of the trainer I know. He stands all of about 5’2” maybe 5’3” and was trying to break up a fight of hockey players a good foot and more taller than him. Before he was damaged, he slithered out of the melee. 

 

A few Colorado players had already left the ice and were standing right next to me. They tried to get back on the ice but the two security guards (if you can call them that, one was a skinny, short 19-year old and the other a 50-year old fat man) wouldn’t let them. In retrospect, they probably should have. A few players from Youngstown who were not on the roster, made there way down to this area and stood on the other side of me. They instantly started jawing and yelling at the Colorado guys and of course Colorado joined right back in. It wasn’t long before punches began flying. 

 

Now here’s the dilemma I was in. All around me there were bigger guys throwing punches. Some were just large men, others were large men in hockey gear. I debated with myself, “Should I throw a punch or push someone? I bet I could get a good sucker punch or push in and knock this guy off his skates. Or since they are so much bigger than me and if the punch doesn’t land solid, they could kill me, do I walk away and hide under the stands?” I picked the middle ground and just stood there. (I hope when I’m 20, I’m like Stephen Curry) The Girlfriend was trying to pull me back but I wasn’t paying attention to anything but the fights going on around me. It escalate to some of the guys getting their suits ripped and one player even swung his hockey stick at a guy (I found out later it was Youngstown’s general manager). More “sercurity guards” showed up and finally got the Colorado guys back to the locker room area. Order was semi restored until the rest of the team walked off the ice and more punches and shoves were exchanged. This lasted for a good 15 minutes.

 

But I haven’t even got to the best part yet. Sometime during the Rocky V like street brawl, one of the Colorado player’s helmet came flying off. It went past me and hit the Girlfriend in the head. I had no idea this happened until things settled down because I was so into the fight. When I finally remember the Girlfriend was standing behind me she told me about the helmet. She said she thought Girlfriend’s Brother picked it up but wasn’t sure when he went. I looked up in the stands and there was GFB smiling like a school girl who’s crush just gave her her first kiss, sitting hunched over with GFBW-1’s jacket rolled up in a ball. He was sitting and smiling like a little boy who just took his first dump and was so proud of himself. I wasn’t sure what he was doing. Then mouthed, “I got the helmet.” Nice work GFB. 

 

I waited until I could finally thank the trainer for the passes and then we got out of there. GFB got away with a real hockey helmet. I’m so jealous. It was one of the coolest swipes of all time. My greats swipe at a sporting event was my freshman year of college, OU beat Miami in basketball, we stormed the floor and someone had thrown the ball up in the air as time expired. I saw it and raced right for it. I caught it and hurried out of the gym with the ball under my coat. I think this hockey helmet tops that.

 

Not everyone was impressed with GFB newest possession. GFBW-1 was not pleased that her coat was wrapped around a sweaty, smelly hockey helmet. The threatened and threatened and said it was not coming him with them. But I’m pretty sure GFB never heard those words. He was on cloud nine. It was his crowning moment of his life. Well done GFB. I am forever jealous.

 

(If I had to start a basketball team, Stephen Curry would be my first pick and Billy Thomas would be my second. I won’t need any other players because no one else would shoot)

 

Other highlights from the Steelhounds game…

 

… GFB graciously pointing out to the Girlfriend that she just got passed by the Geek Squad paddy wagon.

 

… the man who sat at the corner of the rink on the glass and banged the glass and yelled like a caveman anytime a player came near him. He reminded me of Puddy from Sienfeld without the facepoint but same expressions. The best part was his section and ours (one away) won free T-shirts in the TV race car game. He was so worried about getting his shirt he had his back to the ice. When a player was checked into the glass right in front of him, turned and yelled without even looking and then banged the glass three times, still yelling, before finally turning around and refocused on his T-shirt.

 

… We find nice seats three rows up from the glass. For the first period no one sat behind us. Then in the second period a dad, two daughters and a son were there. One of the daughters saw one of her friends there, so she yelled to try and get her attention. The problem was, this friend was on the other side of the rink. But that didn’t stop this little girl from trying to get her attention. “MacKenzieeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!” she yelled repeatedly sounding like a tornado serien. I swear I haven’t heard anything that loud since an ear horn was blown in my ear. She was louder than the horn at the end of the periods, easily. 

 

… watching GFB show off his media pass. I love being with people who have never had a pass before. He was showing it off to anyone like he was Wayne and Garth backstage at the Alice Cooper concert. When an usher asked us for the tickets to the seats we were in, he froze, didn’t say anything and just held up the pass. The lady even less idea what was going on than GFB himself. Luckily, I explained the situation before GFB started showing the pass to everyone around him.

 

… if you had to bet $100, without knowing anything, on whether or not a minor league hockey team in Youngstown, Ohio had cheerleaders/dance team, you’d take the, no they don’t right? Of coure you would. It’s minor league hockey in a rundown town. Who has cheerleaders in hockey? Well, the Steelhounds too. I’ve seen better looking cheerleaders at all boy schools then these girls. They were all flubby and jiggily. You remember that Simpsons when Homer is undergoing test and they flick his fat to see how long it takes to stop and he yells “Look at that blubber fly!” That’s what I thought of everytime I looked at those girls. 

 

Bottom line, Youngstown Steelhounds hockey is great. Wish I would have went before the last game of the year. But the playoffs start this week and they play the same Colorado team in a best-of-seven series. You know that will be entertaining. The next games are in Y’town on April 1, 3 and 4. They are worth checking out and if you want to go with me, I’ll get you media passes as long as you promise to act like you deserve them unlike GFB. (Rosie, I’m looking at you, want to go up there next week)

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