Sunday, May 24

The Downtown report

Hours away from the Cavaliers retaking the court, this time in Orlando, following their amazing Game 2 victory on Friday night, I thought I'd check in with a few observations about the scene from here on the Free Republic of East 12th Street.

Finally - finally - they took down that 2008 schedule that served only to mock me when I was running around the stadium. No one needs to be reminded of that debacle anymore, and I'm glad they got the 2009 schedule up ASAP. Not that I expect to be 2009 to be all that great, but it can at least inspire some optimism while 2008 inspires only depression.

Vote the Tribe for the 2009 All-Star Game!

That head-in-the-sand invitation greets visitors to Progressive Field, completely oblivious to what's been happening on the field this year to the poor Tribe. Of course, I think fan voting is stupid to begin with, especially this early in the season, but it's no secret the Indians haven't exactly had a whole lot of All-Star-worthy performances. Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee, maybe Asdrubal Cabrera, and that's it.

In other Progressive Field news, they finally took down those comically-dated photos they had above the concession stand of fans from when the park opened in 1994 wearing gear that makes you appreciate ballpark fashion has advanced in 15 years. I always found those pictures to be charmingly dorky, but maybe we'll look that way to 2025 Tribe fans as well.

Not surprisingly, Downtown is a big Cavs-fest right now. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting some Cavaliers merch, and posters and banners supporting the club are all over the city. I like it.

I went out into the city for Game 2, which was suitably crazy. I stopped at Panini's to watch the game, inasmuch as one can drink beer and enjoy the nice weather on the patio while checking out the game. Panini's should be a gold mine - it's amazing they can't do any more with that location.

The chief drawback of the outdoor locale is the prevalence of smokers, whose continued existence puzzles me. Haven't you people read the news? It's bad for you! And me! It's gross. I'm taking a stand - if you smoke in an area where other people are, you're being a jerk. I left Best Buy the other day and the only exit was basically being blocked by this girl smoking. I waited, took a deep breath, exited and walked past her while glaring with my most menacing stare, and loudly exhaled after passing her death cloud. Anyway, back to Friday - one guy was sharing table space with us (there were limited places to rest beer cans) and asked if I could give him some money for some pizza or something because he hadn't eaten in a while...and he was smoking! If you don't have enough cash for cigs and food, you need to pick food, my friend. Plus, you're sitting there next to me being disgusting and worsening my health and then you think I want to do you a favor? Um, no.

Anyway, the climactic end of the game at Panini's was crazy. It was so loud (I had moved indoors, mostly because I forgot to bring a gas mask) I can't even describe it. Like someone set off a bomb in there. Just a total madhouse, people jumping around clubbing each other on the back - I issued so many random high-fives and man-hugs it was absurd. Like Ricky Bobby once said: "That just happened!" I sat there stunned for a few minutes before I could gather myself enough to walk home. OK, I didn't go home, I went to Scorchers, where more celebration and high-fiving awaited. What a crazy night.

I've seen the LeBron shot about 100 times now, and it's not even close to getting old. I'll tell you what is getting old, though: Michael Jordan. America, it's time we got over this guy. Look, I know all about how good he was and what he accomplished. Really, I do, considering how much of it was at my favorite team's expense. Reminding me of his talents will not change the point I am making here, so please don't.

But he hasn't played in over six years, and is over a decade removed from his championship-winning years. Isn't it time we moved on? Isn't it time we stopped talking about him every single time a current player does anything spectacular? There was no need to see that stupid shot he made 20 years ago against the Cavs, while we were trying to enjoy LeBron's moment. No need. There's no need for all this silly "Jumpman" merchandise. There's no need for all of Nike's headbands to feature his dunking silhouette anymore. That time has passed. I don't want Jordan's likeness on my headband any more than I want Bird's, Magic's, anybody's. Except my own - that would be awesome. You'd have to draw a little hoop way the hell above my head.

More than anything, I'm tired of Jordan getting a free pass from everyone just because of how good he was. He was, by all accounts, a totally psychotic teammate, and caused enough people's favorite teams heartache that he should be universally blah to NBA fans, but somehow people are perfectly willing to look past all that. Sure, if you're a Bulls fan, he's your man, but why do fans from the other 29 still adore him so much? Part of having a favorite team is having a villain, and, especially for Cavs fans, no one in history fits the bill better. Yet oddly, even Cavs fans seem to have this Stockholm Syndrome-like affinity for Jordan just because of his transcendent talents. Not me, and I'm tired of people telling me how good he was when I balk at old video of him beating my team.

So, Michael Jordan, it's been real, but we're done.

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