My Twitter embargo for Alex Rodriguez

While Alex Rodriguez sits on 599 career home runs, I recently noticed that I was also in the vicinity of 600. Six hundred Tweets, that is.   

In the spirit of A-Rod hitting a career milestone and my own willingness to participate in obscure, yet humorous, sports promotions, I too will sit on 599. That’s right–I’m not Tweeting again until Rodriguez goes deep. When I do, my 600th will be in honor of his.   

All I want for Christmas is for A-Rod to go deep Tuesday. Photo via SI.

You can click on the sidebar button to jump to my Twitter. The site currently has something against me having a picture (no matter what picture I try to upload it won’t work. I even tried one of Woody and Buzz to make sure my computer wasn’t just messing with me…), but my last Tweet reads, “Just like Alex Rodriguez, I am at 599. For me its Tweets, for him its HRs. Until he hits number 600, I’m staying at 599 too.”   

The MLB is using specially marked baseballs for A-Rod’s at-bats. YES had a great shot of the balls during today’s game, which appear to just have an “R” written on them (presumably for Rodriguez), along with the ball’s corresponding number to the set.   

Say what you want about the 600-club not mattering, but with his next blast A-Rod will become just the seventh card-carrying member in MLB history, and he will get there faster than anyone before him. So here’s to seeing history be made; well, I hope.   

—–
SI’s Joe Posnanski has a good column about A-Rod and the 600-club.

Fantasy football QB rankings

With NFL camps kicking off in just over a week, that means fantasy football draft season is picking up speed… don’t get left in the dust. Here are you pre-camp quarterback projections.

1.       Drew Brees, NO
For the longest time, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were alone atop the fantasy world. Over the last few years, Brees and Aaron Rodgers have made their way onto the top of the list. I give Brees the nod because I feel he has more firepower to work with than Rodgers and the Packers. There were only two weeks last year, not including week 17, that he didn’t have a touchdown pass (one of which was against the Bills), and he threw for three or more TDs six times.

If you believe in the Madden curse, you’ll want to stay away from the 2011 cover boy. Last season featured a split-cover with Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu; Fitzgerald played in all 16 games, but Polamalu injured his left knee twice and played in only five games. In the words of Donovan McNabb, “Is it better to be injured and on the cover of Madden, or just injured?”  If you want to find something to knock him for, I’d pick Super Bowl hangover before I plea to the Madden curse.

He has a good offensive system in place for him in New Orleans. He drops back to throw with high frequency, and he set a record last season for completion percentage at 70.6. Will most likely be drafted in the first round.

2.       Aaron Rodgers, GB
I have Aaron Rodgers just behind Brees, although there is good argument he should be first. He was the fantasy points leader for QBs last season, and came in second in ’08. This kid can flat out play quarterback, which he’ll display week 2 at Lambeau Field against the Bills.

Greg Jennings is a stud at WR, but Donald Driver has been on the decline for some time now, which hurts Rodgers. He’s still a good secondary receiver, but look for the likes of James Jones and Jordy Nelson to play a more prominent role in the passing game this year.

Rodgers has good legs and can scramble, but if your league takes off for sacks, you may want to reconsider selecting Rodgers: his 50 sacks last year tied for the league lead. Could be a late first round pick but is more likely to go early second round.

3.       Peyton Manning, IND
If you’re not sure which quarterback to draft, go for Peyton. The elder Manning is the most consistent player in the NFL, if not all of sports.  

He throws more than almost any other player, and set a career high in completions last season. Manning may not go deep as often as he used too, but he’ll make up with a plethora of mid-range passes and red zone touchdowns.

His numbers did decline down the stretch last year (threw for 300+ yards in eight of the first nine games, then only once after that), but he threw more touchdown passes in the second half of the year than the first half, including weeks 17 and 18 where he hardly played. Plus, if you saw this guy in the playoffs, you have no worries about him tapering off.

With guys like Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez around him, he’s sure to have a great year. Late first round or early second.

4.       Matt Schaub, HOU
Matt Schaub has arrived. He stayed injury free last season and look what happened– he led the NFL in yards, attempts and completions.

Schaub to Andre Johnson is arguably to most dangerous home run threat going right now in the league, and a mix of Ben Tate and Steve Slaton will be enough to keep defenses honest. Tight end Owen Daniels was having a great year before getting injured, and other wide outs Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter have both been viable NFL receivers at points in their career. 

“Schaub” doesn’t have the glorified connotation to his name like Brady and Manning do (yet), so if you can snag him at a bargain, do so. Second round or early third.

5.       Tom Brady, NE
Tom Brady makes receivers look good. I don’t know how he does it, but that skill will be put to the test this season. Brady’s knee will be stronger this year compared to last, but unfortunately for him, Wes Welker’s won’t be.   

Randy Moss is still a freak who puts fear into all DBs not named Darrelle Revis, but after that, talent at WR is thin. Julian Edelman (who played QB in college) could be their guy, as could Brandon Tate. The Patriots also brought in Torry Holt, who knows what he’s doing, but he’s way past his prime. The deep threat he posed in years past is no more, but never underestimate Brady’s ability to throw him open.

Four games this year against the Jets and Bills secondaries won’t help, but knowing Brady, it probably won’t hamper him. Should be a late-second or early- third round pick, but will go higher because of his name.

6.       Tony Romo, DAL
I think Tony Romo suffers from a case of Alex Rodriguez syndrome. He is a very good player who puts up very good numbers, yet people devalue him because don’t like him as a person or the team he plays for. If Romo is under center in a different city, he gets mentioned in MVP talks and is considered one of the best in the game. He threw for 4,483 yards last year, more than Brees, Rodgers, Brady, Phillip Rivers, and Brett Favre, and was an offensive holding call behind Peyton Manning (4,500). He was also one of just four starting quarterback to throw single digit interceptions.

If you watched football at all last year, you know Miles Austin is a stud; Jason Witten is one of the best-catching tight ends in the league; and between Roy E. Williams, Dez Bryant and Patrick Crayton, Romo will have good secondary targets to hit too.

7.       Brett Favre, MIN
Every year I’ve said Brett should come back. At this point, it would be shocking if Favre decided not to return for another season in purple. He drew a lot of heat last year for saying his Vikings team was the best team he’d ever played on, but if you look at his numbers, it’s hard to argue that. A career low seven interceptions went along with 33 TDs and 4,202 yards. At age 41, science says he should be slowing down, but when has Brett ever done what his body was supposed to do? 

The running game in Minnesota must be respected by defenses, which gives Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin room to operate. Bernard Berrian will also be in the mix, and TE Visanthe Shiancoe is a large target in the red zone. Favre could very well end up higher than seven, but you have to think Father Time nags him eventually.

8.       Joe Flacco, BAL
Flacco may be a slight reach here, but I’ll give you two words why he’ll be a top-10 QB this year: Anquan Boldin. I don’t think Boldin will be a top-10 receiver, but he completes the Baltimore offense and makes the unit that much more lethal (Don’t forget what Jerry Maguire taught us: wide receiver + quan = awesome). His arrival pushes Derrick Mason, Donte’ Stallworth, Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams back to receivers 2-5, respectively, which is a much better spot for them, talent-wise, than 1 through 4. Ray Rice keeps defenses on their heels and led all RBs in receptions last season as well. 

Flacco didn’t have a great year from a fantasy standpoint in ‘09, but this year will be different. He has always had the poise and arm strength to succeed, and this is the year he finally puts it all together. Flacco’s stock is on the rise, and I’m buying.

9.       Phillip Rivers, SD
For all the hype Rivers is getting this season, I don’t think he’s going to touch top-tier QB status like some think he will. His main hookup is with Vincent Jackson, who was the leading fantasy receiver for the first half of last year before struggling in the final eight games. This season Jackson will miss the first three games with a suspension, which in turn, hurts Rivers as well. 

San Diego also lost LaDainian Tomlinson, which could mean ever more passing, but could also mean more defenses ready for the pass. Again, I think this development makes it harder on Rivers and the Chargers. He has huge upside and put up great numbers last season, but I’d be surprised if he matched last year’s totals. Will probably go round three, but I’d think twice before spending a high pick on him.

10.   Eli Manning, NYG
Manning was up and down at points last season, but he did have a career-best 27 touchdowns and eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark. Steve Smith had a breakout year in 2009, and Hakeem Nicks looks to do the same.

Manning finally looks comfortable as a starter on the field, and at no. 10, he looks to be a starter on your fantasy team, too. The Giants are going to throw, and I like Manning’s chances this year. You can wait on him until rounds 5-8, and if he’s around late, he could be a steal.

11.   Kevin Kolb, PHI
Kolb is a rather unproven quarterback, but he will be under center for the Eagles this season following Donovan McNabb’s move to Washington. Relatively speaking, that’s a good place for a young QB to be. I have trouble trusting my fantasy team to a quarterback with two career starts, but he put up good numbers in both games and aims at being the next great young play caller in the NFL. 

In his first start he put up 391 yards against the Saints, although several of them came with the game far out of reach. The next week he threw for 327 yards in a winning effort against Kansas City, which is good, except it’s Kansas City. Even the Bills beat KC.

Kolb has two good, young receivers in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant is good in the slot. Brent Celek had a stellar year at tight end, and a mix of LeSean McCoy and Mike Bell will provide the ground attack for Philly. McNabb put up great numbers in the Eagles’ offensive system, and I think Kolb will too. He has learning to do going into his first season as a starter, but if you’re looking for a sleeper pick, Kolb might be your man.

12.   Jay Cutler, CHI
This man is an enigma. Cutler went only one game without a turnover last year and totaled a whopping 26 interceptions–more than Trent Edwards has in his entire career. Yet he still managed to set a career high for touchdowns (27) and was a top-15 fantasy quarterback.

You would think it could only get better from here on in, but considering his favorite target is named Aromashodu and his other wide outs are a D-II college player and a DB-turned-WR, it’s hard to say with any certainty. Also worth noting is that his numbers are inflated by a huge (but fantasy-irrelevant) week 17; without which he throws for 3,390 yards and 23 TDs. 

Running back Matt Forte was a bust-and-a-half last season, a contributing factor to Cutler’s poor year. The Bears brought in Chester Taylor to help shoulder to load, which should aid Cutler’s numbers as well. New Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz is known for doing wonders with QBs, although he is also known for getting them injured, too.

There’s a good possibility Cutler has a decent year and finishes higher than the 12th ranked QB. However, there is also a possibility he struggles again and is too inconsistent to put in your starting lineup. He’s hit or miss, and while he’s more likely to hit, there is the threat that he misses and kills your team. It’d be ballsy to draft Cutler as your starter, but if you want to make him your number 2, I think you’d have to draft him awful high for a backup quarterback. My thinking is to steer clear and let him be someone else’s problem, but if you’re the gambling type you could get good numbers at a bargain.


Don’t be that guy. Don’t do it.

13.   Donovan McNabb, WAS
I think it’s against the law to hate Donovan McNabb and his Chunky Soup-loving mother. That being said, he now plays in Washington, whose offensive situation is a lot worse than Philadelphia’s. I don’t care for any of the three formerly studly running backs on the team (Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, Willie Parker), and the receiver situation isn’t much better.

Santana Moss heads another Redskin group of has-beens and busts-to-be (seeing a pattern here?). Michigan State product Devin Thomas and former Oklahoma Sooner Malcolm Kelly hope for improvement in their third year of NFL service, a year receivers are known for breaking out in, but they might turn out to be more like the Chiefs’ Dwayne Bowe than NYG’s Steve Smith. Receivers 4-6 consist of Joey Galloway, Mike Furrey and Bobby Wade. Still not impressed. Plus, the offensive line in Washington sucks.

While I don’t doubt McNabb’s ability to put the ball where it needs to be, I have major concerns with his receivers’ ability to do their job (and the line’s ability to keep McNabb on his feet, which only adds to threats on him going down with an injury). Mike Shanahan’s teams are hard to count out, but the rest of the Capital is a mess, so why stop here? For the deliciousness that is Campbell’s Chunky Soup with sirloin burgers and garden vegetables, I hope McNabb doesn’t become another washed-up Redskin.

14.   Matt Ryan, ATL
I’m willing to buy Matt Ryan on the rebound after a rough sophomore season. His numbers were bogged down by injuries last year, both his injury and Michael Turner’s. Being number 14 doesn’t exactly sound like a place for a resurgent player, but there isn’t really anywhere else to put him. I don’t think Atlanta has done enough to get players around Ryan for him to be an upper-echelon QB. Roddy White is very good and is one of the most consistent WRs in the league week-to-week, but after White it’s a steep decline.

Second receiver Michael Jenkins didn’t hook up with Ryan for a touchdown all last year, and Turner doesn’t catch the ball out of the backfield (had just five receptions). Tony Gonzalez had a great 2009, but he’s not the Dallas Clark/Antonio Gates type of game changer anymore. 

At 14, Ryan is literally above average… but nothing more. He’ll be one of the better backups, but if he’s your top QB you will want to invest in another passer, and fast.

15.   Chad Henne, MIA
I liked Chad Henne last season for Miami. He made plays the Dolphins needed him to make, and for a rookie, I was impressed with what I saw. However, fantasy bloodhounds are sniffing the tag “game manager,” which typically spells trouble for a fantasy team. His numbers attest: 2,878 yards, 12 TDs, and 14 INTs; scored 20 fantasy points only twice but was held to single digits four times. 

So what changes this year? Just a guy named Brandon Marshall. The Fish brought in arguably the most coveted free agent of the off-season to go along with one of the game’s top ground attacks, which will help Henne tremendously. ESPN projects Marshall to lead the league in receptions with 104. After Marshall, Miami isn’t as thin at WR as you would think.

Here’s a question for you, which receiver going into his third year has the most receptions? Is it DeSean Jackson? Eddie Royal? How about Pierre Garcon, Donnie Avery or Robert Meachem? The answer is actually Miami’s Davone Bess, with 130. Behind Bess on the depth chart is Greg Camarillo, who’s coming off a 50 catch season, and Brain Hartline, who has no real claim-to-fame except scoring two of his three career touchdowns against the Bills.

Henne will lose some game time when Miami goes into the Wildcat and I don’t see him being an elite passer just yet, but look for Henne to come into his own this year. The third-year Michigan product won’t be picked in the first 10 rounds, but he could provide good value to your team.

The next few quarterbacks, in no particular order:

Ben Roethlisberger– Will put up numbers when he comes back from suspension, but players who come late to the party tend not to pick up where they left off. Isn’t that right, Marshawn? 

Alex Smith– I like what Mike Singletary is doing in the Bay area. Could rise into the teens. 

Matt Leinart– Hard to believe Arizona’s QB well has run dry, but Leinart is yet to string together a good month of football, let alone an entire season. Imagine the criticism the Bills would be getting for “ruining” such a prospect if we hadn’t passed on him for Donte Whitner. 

David Garrard– Mike Sims-Walker had a good year last year and any QB who has MJD pounding the rock should see some single coverage. 

Jason Campbell– Didn’t do much in Washington… or did he? Numbers actually weren’t that bad, all things considered. Oakland is only a slight upgrade though, if any.

Vince Young– Won’t put up huge passing numbers but gets it done on the ground as well. For those of you holding on to memories of Mike Vick a la 2002, your best bet is to draft Young rather than Vick himself.

All-Star Game quiz -plus- Remembering George Steinbrenner

As you watch the All-Star Game tonight, test your knowledge of some ASG trivia. Thirteen questions for the game on the 13th day of July. Answers are at the end… no cheating. 

1.) When was the last year the National League won the ASG? 

-What was the score? 

-Who was the winning pitcher? 

2.) What player was selected to the most All-Star teams? 

3.) Who was the last pitcher to win ASG MVP? 

4.) True or False? A first basemen has never been an ASG MVP. 

5.) True or False? The ASG used to be a double-header. 

6.) More recent history: What was the score of last year’s ASG? 

-Where was it played? 

7.) Which league leads the all-time series in ASGs? 

8.) True or False? Canada has hosted multiple ASGs. 

9.) True or False? The AL’s 13-year undefeated streak is a record for ASGs. 

10.) The first ASG MVP award was awarded in what year? 

11.) Since the ASG has decided home-field advantage in the World Series, how many World Series has the NL won? (hint: they haven’t won an ASG since) 

12.) What is the biggest blowout in ASG history? 

13.) Who won the first ASG? 

-Where was it held? 

David Ortiz won the Home Run Derby last night

ANSWERS:  Comment your score, we’ll see who wins.

 1.) 1996, 6-0, John Smoltz 

2.) Hank Aaron, 21 times 

3.) Pedro Martinez, Boston, 1999 

4.) False. Most recently Fred McGriff in 1994, also Steve Garvey (twice) and Willie McCovey 

5.) True. Last in 1962 

 6.) 4-3 American League, Busch Stadium in St. Louis 

7.) National League, 40-38 (two ties) 

8.) True. Toronto in ’91 and Montreal in ’82 

9.) True. Due to the tie in 2002, the American League has 12 wins in the last 13 years, which is a longer undefeated streak than the NL’s 11-year streak from ’72-’82 

10.) 1962 

11.) Three of seven; Florida in ’03, St. Louis in ’06, and Philadelphia in ’08 

12.) The AL won 12-0 in Boston in 1946 

13.) The AL won the first ever ASG, 4-2 in 1933. Held in Comiskey Park in Chicago 
——

1930-2010

In other baseball news, today Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees mourn the loss of longtime owner George Steinbrenner, who died early this morning due to a massive heart attack. He was 80-years-old. During his tenure, the Yankees were seven-time World Series champions and captured 11 American League pennants. 

In 1973 Steinbrenner was the leader of a group who purchased the club from CBS for $10 million. Today, they are worth an estimated $1.3 billion. Steinbrenner will be remembered for changing the owner’s role in the game, virtually creating competition for free agents, and making the New York Yankees the global, iconic figure they are today. Whether he’s the reason you love the Yankees or you hate them, everyone in the game respects what he did for Major League Baseball. 

Ownership and control of the team have been passed to his sons, Hal and Hank, in recent times while George was in declining health. Yankee players in tonight’s All-Star Game will wear black armbands in remembrance. 

Longtime Yankees PA announcer Bob Sheppard also recently passed away at age 99.

Reactions following Spain’s World Cup victory

Spain defeated the Netherlands, 1-0 in extra time, to capture their first ever World Cup. It’s a great day for Spain, South Africa, and soccer fans everywhere. Well, except in the Netherlands.

Quick thoughts following the game:

  • It’s THE NETHERLANDS. Not Holland. Period.
  • The dives were ridiculous, as were the number of cards. The ref got too caught up in the game, and started handing out cards for every foul. There were only three Netherlands starters who weren’t booked, one of which being the goalie.
  • The Netherlands really should have won the game in regulation. Robben had numerous chances that he didn’t finish, and the Dutch collectively had poor execution on odd-man chances and breakaways.
  • I know soccer commentators during the tournament weren’t exactly known for their energy, but the ones during the game were reallllyy boring. Given the magnitude of the game, I would have liked them to be more animated and made the chances seem like bigger deals. It’s the World Cup final, wake up.
  • I am glad though that someone scored and the game didn’t have to be decided by penalty kicks. Yes, they’re exciting, but that’s not the way to lose the World Cup. I’d be in favor of, for the semifinals and championships, adding an additional 20 minute session (two 10 minute halves) and giving each team one more sub.
  • I’m glad ESPN and ABC gave full coverage to the tournament. It did a lot for soccer here, and I’m sure it had similar impact for many other parts of the country, too. It’s a beautiful game, all it needs here is more exposure. (Side note– Thierry Henry looked past his prime for France this year, but I like bringing him to the MLS. We want our players playing in their leagues, but having some of theirs in ours couldn’t hurt either.)
  • Coming into this World Cup, only seven countries had won the tournament. I found this graphic online, which illustrates the number of cups per country. If you asked me, I could have named all of them, but seeing them laid out like this was an eye-opener. For those of you who are geographically challenged, it’s Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, France, and England (and now Spain).
  • There will be people who complain how low scoring the game is, but I always argue back that it should be fun to watch because there is constant action. People say they like watching hockey but not baseball because of the difference in game speed, but really, soccer should be the easiest to watch. Constant gameplay, no timeouts, no commercials, no coaches challenges, no measuring for first downs, no pucks out of play, and definitely no switching pitchers after one batter. Just action, action, action.
  • After this showing from Team USA, they really need to go at least as far as they did this time for the next one to be considered a success. As mentioned before, soccer in this country can not afford to have the States eliminated in the group stage.

That’s all she wrote, folks. Congratulations to Spain for winning their first ever World Cup, and for becoming the first team to lose their opening match and then go on to win it all. Soccer doesn’t stop for four years, though. You can tune into the Fox Soccer Channel for some English soccer, or check out the MLS for America’s pro league. Locally, you can get out to watch FC Buffalo play (or catch their final home game in about 90 minutes at All-High Stadium). Knock the ball around with friends or get a game of World Cup together with the guys. This may be my last soccer post for a while, but that doesn’t mean the sport stops until the world reconvenes in Brazil, just over 1400 days away.

The U.S. Men play Brazil in New Jersey, Tuesday August 10 at 8pm. It’ll be live on ESPN2, or catch the game.

Go States. Go Soccer.

While Miami celebrates, small-markets weap

It was an ending fit for a king. Finding out which team LeBron James chose to play for via text message wouldn’t do the situation justice; nor would seeing it scroll across the bottom of your screen during a baseball game. “The Decision” was all anyone in the sports world was talking about, and having an hour special on ESPN was a fitting way to make the announcement. How they went about conducting the interview I didn’t care for so much, but that’s another story (and besides, who tucks a shirt into jeans?).    

I got the feeling James was going to the Heat in the days leading up to the event. The Knicks needed too much work. The Nets are even worse than the Knicks, and you don’t want your friend as a boss. He couldn’t wear 23 in Chicago (but judging from the picture it wouldn’t have mattered anyway), and Los Angeles seemed like a long shot. All that left was Cleveland and Miami. Once Wade and Bosh announced they were both going to play with the Heat, it really hurt the Cavs’ chances. No Tom Izzo, and now no free agent signings. All they had left to offer LeBron was sentimental value, but millionaires don’t tend to listen to people yelling “you owe us.” If things are bigger in Texas, then they’re certainly hotter in Florida–Miami especially. For the spectacle of LeBron James, his brand, and his legacy, the aura of Miami seemed too much to ignore.    

Thursday morning, things got crazy. Every radio show and sports site was talking about LeBron. Nick Mendola may or may not have broken news that LeBron was scheduled to fly to Miami and meet with Pat Riley. Whichever guest host was murdering the Jim Rome show that day (I know, I know. Cut me some slack… that’s what WGR has on when I get my lunch break) had all kinds of people on from Ohio saying how LeBron better come back and how much they will hate him if he doesn’t. Facebook and Twitter were loaded with predictions and suggestions… some less serious than others.    

About five minutes before the start of the show, I posted one last thing about LeBron: “Hoping he stays in Cleveland.” I had given a lot of thought to where I actually wanted him to go. (I am becoming more and more aware of this sick/awesome obsession avid sports fans have with having an opinion on everything in sports; i.e. if you flip on a random college football game let’s say, and about three minutes into it you find yourself beginning to root for one of them to win. That’s something I could talk about for hours, but I bring it up only to discuss how I decided what I wanted LeBron to do.) Comparisons are often made between Cleveland and Buffalo as sports cities (mostly for losing), and I couldn’t help but feel bad for them. They’re a bigger city than we are, both we’re both considered to be small-markets. 
 
When James finally said he was going down to South Beach, I was really kind of sad. I don’t know how he came to that decision, but I can offer a comparison: If I was ever lucky enough to be drafted to the NHL, it would be a dream come true. But if I was drafted by the Sabres and was the best player in team history? There’s no way I could leave ever that behind.  I don’t know how he made up his mind–and even if I knew his logic, I probably wouldn’t understand it–but he sure broke a lot of hearts when he left.   

  

I asked a college friend of mine who lives in Cleveland what the scene was like and how they were taking it. He said, “Everyone hates LeBron. It’s pretty crazy. I don’t know if there is even anymore LeBron apparel, everyone is burning everything.”         
      
I knew the fallout would be bad in Ohio, and burning expensive things  is my case in point. Another part of the fallout that was publicized was Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert’s furious open letter to LeBron. Anger often provides the best fuel for writing, and although you may regret it later, it frequently proves to yield some really good writing. I thought the letter was a stroke of genius on Gilbert’s part, and I love that he used Comic Sans MS and blue font for it to take down the tone. He also took the focus off the fact that Cleveland just lost their best player, and put it on how much better they will be without him, when they clearly won’t be (and made a few thousand hometown fans in the process). I have the letter saved on my computer should something happen and it be mysteriously deleted from the Internet like some other things during the LeBron saga. My friend said, “The good news is that there is a new king, Dan Gilbert… got to love an owner like that.”       

When you think about it, you do love an owner like that. I wish our owners were more like that. He personally guarantees the Cavs will win a championship before LeBron will. While our absentee and aged owners don’t seem to know games exist after the regular season, their owner personally guarantees them a championship. In all honesty, that’s probably a bet he’s going to lose, but either way, you have to admire the passion he has for his city, something James seemed to be lacking.      

I actually got a letter from James in the mail a week or two ago. In it, he said, “No matter which team I end up playing with next season, I promise to continue to work hard and remain dedicated to the game of basketball… without the support of the fans, basketball would not mean nearly as much.” Guess basketball doesn’t mean as much to him. And if not basketball, then the city of Cleveland.      

Eventually though, The Forest City will do what us small-markets do best, pull together and be resilient. It’s not going to be easy and it will certainly take time, but Cleveland will start to get over it and LeBron will stop being headline news, maybe when the Browns start-up. Art Modell will still be public enemy number one, and eventually, Clevelanders will make their way to the acceptance stage of grief. One of the last things I asked my friend was if they had a feeling LeBron was going to leave. He answered, “I knew he was going to leave. I think everyone knew but didn’t want to admit it.”      

Through writing this I’ve realized that Cleveland is going to be okay. It may take some time to become title contenders again, but when the wounds heal, they heal stronger than before. And Cleveland–if you need a hug along the way, Buffalo is just a short trip away.       

——-
Not really relevent to the piece, but you knew this was a big deal when dictionary.com even got involved. Take a look (note the extension is 666): http://hotword.dictionary.com/?p=666. They know grammar and things of that nature, but I would have liked to see them make note of Gilbert’s use of a double negative “nor NEVER.”