Sports


I know it’s been awhile, so forgive me. Work was crazy and I had a small bad patch there emotionally and just wasn’t able to muster up the energy to blog, even though I thought of things I wanted to talk about. I imagine after such a long absence, this wasn’t exactly what you were expecting me to talk about, (also, I’m sure you’re all, way to be behind the times fifi), but in the fifi house, much talk this time of year revolves around NCAA football because we love it so and in sad anticipation of it going away for the next few months, we gorge ourselves on bowl games to prepare for the empty months ahead.* Of course, we are beyond happy and excited about Ohio State and the Rose Bowl tomorrow, but that doesn’t not mean there aren’t other games that pique our interest (Penn State-LSU, I’m looking at you.) I come by this obsession naturally, of course: my dad has been known to make reference to what happened in the D-3 championship and look shocked that no one else caught the game. So how am I going to ring out 2009 in the blogging world? Not with top ten posts or what I’ve done this year or recaps, but by talking about college football. Obviously.

But anyway, I was going to let this go, but what with all the Urban Meyer fuss as of late (and, if you follow me on twitter, you know my thoughts on THAT**), the Cincy-Florida game has been a topic of conversation as well (I’m sure you know who I’m pulling for in that one but I’ll give you a hint anyway-it’s not Florida. I’m so not still bitter about that or anything). I find it interesting that both teams in this match up are going through some turmoil thanks to their head coaches.***

Now, I don’t think Brian Kelly is a sportsmanship antichrist in anywhere the same way that Rich “‘It’s all about the reasons for staying‘ – that $1.75 million per year he extracted in exchange for a promise to stay until 2014 – ‘this is my school’ – until something better comes along” Rodriguez is. And, to be fair, I get that Kelly overcame A LOT at Cincy to get the program where it is (having to buy your support staff cellphones is completely ridiculous for a D-1 school). I can see how working for Notre Dame would be tempting, what with its money and its boosters and its PRIVATE JET. Notre Dame is the big time and coaching there with all that support would be a lot easier than staying.

So I’m not even saying that Kelly shouldn’t have left Cincy. It’s all about the TIMING. As great as Kelly is, he didn’t get Cincy to where it is by himself. He’s there because of his players. His players who he told he wouldn’t leave, but abandoned before their really-quite-a-big-deal bowl game. And that is SO not cool.

I understand about that this is all about recruiting, but, seriously? Notre Dame wanted Kelly. He could have pushed back and set a precedent for coaches in this position. It’s already very likely that he is going to take some potential recruits from Cincy to ND with him. What kind of difference is an extra couple of weeks going to make really? There are factors other than just the coaching staff that make people pick schools. For one thing, Kelly is going to have to work with what talent ND already has-him recruiting doesn’t change the quality of the recruiting classes already at the school.

And Notre Dame is Notre Dame. Even though they suck right now, recruits go there because it is Notre Dame. Maybe some recruits need a phone call or personal handholding, but does it really have to be from Kelly? If you could release the information that Kelly were going to ND after the bowl, why do you need the man himself? ND hired him because of his reputation and his record- that’s why recruits are coming as well. Wouldn’t it be better for all parties involved-including the NCAA-for Kelly to look like a man of integrity who has concern for his players (students! Remember them, NCAA? That whole big difference between this level of athletics and the pros? The people whose best interest you’re supposed to be looking out for?) instead of one who bailed on his kids when a big new shiny supposedly better deal came along?

As an aside, isn’t there something to be said for loyalty? I understand making the move to a D-1 school from a lesser school, but once you’re at the D-1 school, shouldn’t that be enough? I always thought the goal was to have a career at a school, not to bounce around in pursuit of the best deal and the most toys.

All that said, perhaps Kelly might have looked to RichRod’s example before bailing on his players. (Not, actually, that I mind this. For obviously reasons, I hate Michigan and ND and ND fans are incredibly annoying,**** so if both teams continue to suck they way have in recent years, I will be a happy fifi.*****) because karma, it is a bitch. And I think that what we’ve all learned from the RichRod incident, the higher powers of college football don’t like this kind of abandoning-your-players behavior and will rain down the hellfire of losses and embarrassment on those who violate the unspoken gospel of good sportsmanship and sticking by the players who got you to where you are. As discussed above, Kelly really hasn’t quite reached RichRod-levels of skeevitude, so I’m predicting another Ty Willingham. Enjoy ND. Enjoy.

As another aside in all this, I will also miss the Charlie Weiss kitteh on FOTP. A Brian Kelly kitteh will just not be as entertaining.

*At this point, you may be asking, “but, fifi, does g.town even have a football team? (Yes and they are about as good and play as interesting teams as you might imagine). Isn’t g.town a basketball school? (Again, yes.) Even if you do heart college football with all the fibers of your being, should g.town bball at least tide you over? (No, and it’s not for lack of trying. I mean, I love March Madness and the Big East tourney as much as the next Hoya Blue blooded girl, but in general, even with King James is playing, I just don’t find bball as interesting to watch as football. This is in part because there are just so many games and therefore the individual games don’t matter like football games do and therefore, I don’t feel compelled to watch every game. Also, for this very same reason, there just aren’t as many “big” games in college bball as there are in college football. Find a way to justify me watching every single game on a Saturday and then maybe I’ll be more on board.

But I digress.

**I am sure this was an incredibly difficult decision for Meyer and his family to make and the reasons behind it are personal and should remain so. Meyer owes nothing to anyone in the public in terms of an explanation and he certainly doesn’t owe it to the public to keep coaching at the expense of his health. It’s not like he’s leaving his players to go coach another team(ahem RichRodBrianKelly).

But that said, when you make the choice to publicly announce something like this (which I would HOPE was well-thought out and factored in the possibility of some regret) and then immediately back pedal the next day after you’ve been praised to the high heavens by the media and called a genius for 24 hours, I’m not going to say it was a publicity stunt or something to explain away your big SEC loss, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Also, if I were his wife and daughters, obvs. I would be supportive, but I also might be just a wee bit annoyed right now.

***Again, I am not judging Meyer for his decision to stop coaching – if that is, in fact, what he decides to do. I think sometimes, hard as it is, you do have to put your health before everything else, if not just for yourself, but for your family. And I know of what I speak when I say that heart issues are scary, scary stuff.

HOWEVER, I absolutely blame Meyer for creating this media firestorm right now. There really was no reason to announce this before the bowl game – even if there were leak threats, I still think it could have waited. Make the game about the players who worked so hard to get there – all those kids, esp. the seniors, were already going to be overshadowed in the media tonguebath that will be Tebow’s last game and now it’s going to be all about that AND Urban Meyer’s maybe-kinda-sorta-possibly last game. Not cool. And also, of course, see above.

****Example in two words: Brady Quinn. Thirteen words: Brady Quinn’s sister and her stupid split jersey at the 2006 fiesta bowl. And, on behalf of Browns fans everywhere who have to look at you: cut your hair Brady. It looks stupid particularly in those after game interviews when they catch you right out of the shower.

*****And really, if I’m being honest, I would rather see Michigan good than ND, so as to give some teeth to the rivalry, make the Big 10 stronger, and shut up all those SEC-is-the-only-real-football annoying people (you come play in the snow, then we talk, m’kay?).

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that this was all just posturing and vain hopes. Because seriously people, how does this NOT have the words “bad idea” lurking all around it? Even if it’s a great trade – which it is (we’re really not giving up much, we can get rid of Shaq if necessary) – these types of things NEVER work out here in Cleveland. He’s not exactly in his prime anymore either. Couple that with his tendencies towards ass-y behavior (say, for example, his recent bitchy behavior towards Dwight Howard), and I’m not ready to put on my celebration hat quite yet.

Despite the fact that other events overshadowed what happened Saturday night – I was pretty burnt out and ended up passing out shortly after the game began – the Cavs loss is obviously quite unfortunate. Following my “stay positive” mantra, I was completely convinced that we would pull off another nail-biter in Orlando, come home and definitively win the series in Cleveland and that this would give us the motivation and that extra something to beat the Lakers and win the Championship, thereby bringing a championship to Cleveland for the first time in 45 years.* And that would be how it was meant to be. 

Obviously not. 

But we are Clevelanders and so we are temporarily bummed, but then shrug it off, saying, “I like our chances for next year.” 

Next year is the year. Obviously.

Now how ’bout those Indians? Go Tribe!

*And yes I realize that is a bit of a run-on sentence and a wee bit to long. Be glad I didn’t throw in a semi-colon; the boyfriend hates it when I get started on the semi-colons.

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So this weekend I started a follow up to the OMG post, writing about The Shot and how awesome it was to experience it surrounded by other Cavs fans and what a great moment it was. But I never finished it/posted it. I didn’t want to write about how it was a turning moment and how great it was for the team and then jinx them. So I skipped celebrating and just got stuck back in my Cleveland-teams-always-screw-things-up mindset. Which, if you’ve been watching the series, you know has been pervasive since Sunday night. Everyone here is melancholy and bummed and refusing to hope. Talk at bar class yesterday centered around how it’s time to just give up, Cleveland teams will never amount to anything, and how LeBron is obviously on the first plane out of here. 

But fifi, you say, you grew up in Cleveland. You know the score and you choose to keep being a fan. You saw the Indians in the late 90s throw away one chance after another to win the World Series. More recently, you watched the Indians shockingly beat the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs, get up three games on Boston in the second, only to hand the series over to the eventual world champions that year. You’ve seen the Browns choke year after year (“What? We’re winning? No, other team, please take the ball. We don’t like winning.”)

You’ve watched, peeking through your fingers, the disasters that were Ohio State and its last three bowl games. You’ve listened to people disparage your team and the Big 10 and call them overrated year in and year out. You felt the searing internal pain when Florida not only beat OSU football in the National Championship game, but then followed that up by beating OSU basketball to conclude March Madness (seriously, people, that SUCKED). All true, all true.

But here’s the thing: I’ve listened to people disparage my town and my teams and I’ve stood up for said teams every time because, at the risk of sounding sappy, I know in my heart that we will win someday (well, at least that’s what my Dad keeps telling me). And that’s what we do here – we keep hoping and we keep trying and the sign I saw on the way to bar class today reminded me of this, because I had clearly forgotten in my post-last 2 games Cavs funk.

“We’ve won three in a row before.”

That’s all it said. And it’s true. We’ve done it before and we will do it again. So I am making a conscious choice to be hopeful and be positive and do my very best to believe that we are going to win tonight and send those vibes out and see what happens (I know, I know. Vibes. Just remember that I have a little yoga chick in me and bear with me). 

And if we don’t? It will suck because of the promise of the season and the fact that the team future seems to hang in the balance, but (and I will speak for the city here), we will still be incredibly proud of the team and the season they’ve had and we will still love them for the season they gave us and the chances to celebrate they’ve already given us. And if we’re negative? It’s because we’re afraid – afraid that this is the end and that this will be the thing that pushes LeBron over the edge and sends him to New York. But, ultimately, we’re incredibly grateful for how much fun you’ve given us up until this point and how you’ve helped make it pretty cool to be from our city. 

I realize that this makes me a huge hypocrite since I am only briefly returning to Cleveland for the next few months before jumping ship to New York, but I do truly hope that LeBron stays in Cleveland. It’s completely selfish and obviously we as a city put way too much on his 24 year old shoulders, tying up our hopes and dreams as a city in what he does, but I do hope he stays here. 

So Friday night: I had just picked up my friend Jill,* who was visiting from DC for the weekend, from the airport. Her flight was delayed so by the time we got to the bar to grab a drink, it was the fourth quarter. If you watched the game, you know that at this point, we had given up a double-digit lead and were struggling to hang on. By the time Orlando went ahead with 1 second left, I was ready to go home – didn’t want to watch my Cavs lose, especially after Game 1. Everyone was pretty down at the bar and Jill was tired, so while she finished her beer, I went inside (it was a nice night so we sat outside on the patio) to pay our tab and get my credit card. I asked the bartender to close my tab and as she turned to the cash register, I saw The Shot. The Oh.My.God. shot. The one-second left, Hail Mary three-pointer to win the game. The bar EXPLODED. I know shots like this have been made before in similar circumstances, but it was amazing to see and to be surrounded by people reacting to something they hardly dared to believe would actually happen. 

Thanks in part to TNT, I’ve been hooked on this Kanye song. Even though it’s about Kanye (because what isn’t? 🙂 ) and being used by TNT/the NBA for all clips, when you listen to it, it’s all LeBron and the Cavs.

So I leave you with this: 

It’s amazing, I’m the reason
Everybody fired up this evening
I’m exhausted, barely breathing
Holding on to what I believe in

I’m a monster, I’m a maven
I know this world is changin’
Never gave in, never gave up
I’m the only thing I’m afraid of

No matter what you’ll never take that from me
My reign is as far as your eyes can see

I’m amazin’, yeah, I’m all that
If I ain’t on my grind then what you call that?
Victorious, yeah, we warriors
We make history, strive off victory

It’s amazing, so amazing.

Witness

*Not her real name. You know my rules, people!

quoted from text from the boyfriend at 11:32 tonight

http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2009/05/where_lebron_happens_james_inc.html