Saturday, May 15, 2010


Some things, as George Thorogood might say, will drive a man to drink. I wanted to focus on three of them today. They seem to have nothing in common with one another, except that they leave me in disbelief at how bad things can get in the face of such promise. So, without further adieu, let’s get drunk:

ONE BOURBON: What is it with the city of Cleveland and their sports teams? I’ve been a sports fanatic since 1965, and in those 45 years, Cleveland’s three pro sports franchises (or 2.9 franchises, given that the Cavaliers began in 1970), have won a total of zero championships. If I’m not mistaken that gives them by far the longest period of futility of any major American city. Atlanta comes close, but at least the Braves won one in the 1990s. I remember it well – they beat Cleveland.

I’ve been thinking about Cleveland sports this week because of what’s been happening to their basketball team. They’ve had the league’s Most Valuable Player (LaBron James) for two years, and despite his dominance and even the team’s dominance during the regular season, they still find a way to lose before they make the finals. This year, the final year before LaBron can opt out of his contract, they had easily the best record in the league, but they couldn’t even make it to the semi-finals. And in a truly mind-boggling display, their fans actually booed the team when it lost its final home game. So when James, who happens to be a local boy from Akron, considers whether he wants to play in Northeastern Ohio or sign with such teams as New York or Chicago, he’ll have his homies’ boos to remind him of how little they remember his two MVP seasons.

Are those fans crazy? Do they not realize that LaBron James was that city’s best – and only foreseeable – chance to actually win a championship in any sport? Why then wouldn’t they embrace him with the most open arms possible? Why wouldn’t they give their boys a standing ovation, rather than a serenade of boos?

I absolutely feel sorry for the people of Cleveland that they continue to suffer such a long draught. But my God, this was their chance to end that draught. And now, the smart money is on James taking off for a city in a bigger media market, one that has won many championships in recent decades. Why is it that the rich always seem to get richer, and the poor poorer?

Anyway, Cleveland, when LaBron takes off for the truly big city, get yourself some Jack Daniels and think about what might have been. Then feel free to spend the next several weeks rooting for your lousy Cleveland Indians until its time for your lousy Cleveland Browns to play some God-awful football. Before long, you’ll be ready for the Cavaliers without LaBron to start a new season. Then you can boo to your heart’s content, and nobody will blame you.


This portion has been redacted. Sorry.


Finally, as a chaser, I would recommend something mild. In fact, what I have to offer might even make you happy, and there’s no better drink when you’re happy than a cold glass of beer.

Here is a link to a video of an event that I was fortunate enough to participate in at the Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society. It involves four Jewish teenagers (including my daughter Rebecca) and four Muslim young adults talking about their respective faiths and various issues of vital concern to the two communities. It should put a smile on your face. Indeed, I was inspired to be a part of it. But as you’re watching these eight people demonstrate how religion can be a source of unification and spirituality, don’t forget that these young people are powerless. In fact, the adults who think like them are pretty powerless. That’s what we have to change.

Once we can enlist organized religions as vehicles for progress, rather than entrenched interests and bigotry (see, e.g., the Pope’s recent statement that gay marriage is “insidious and dangerous”), then, maybe, we can tackle a range of social issues, including those regarding the environment. But it still won’t help us with Cleveland sports. If LaBron James can’t even take that city to the Promised Land, I’m not sure all the prayers in the world can get the job done.

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