Friday, September 30, 2011

Take a Risk, Not Afraid to Fail

I believe that most people think and dream about their aspirations and goals constantly.  Probably every single day.  I know that I do. And I guess I have nothing to prove that this statement is true, but I would say that approximately 99% of those people don't do a damn thing to act on any of it. My opinion is that most are cripled by the fear of failure or humiliation.  It is a scary thing to go after something that you are so passionate about, and have it crumble right in front of your eyes. The people around you that truly love you won't care, they will still love you, but deep down you still feel like they think of you a little bit differently.  Maybe judging just a little bit, having conversations between themselves about how you should have known better.  On some level that probably does happen a little bit.

Anyway so I'm going to do something in a couple weeks that I can guarantee most people will think is ridiculous.  I don't care what they say to my face, how much they say good luck, secretly they are saying this guy is losing it.  Or he needs to move on. 

So the Cavaliers recently purchased a NBA D-League team which will make its home in Canton.  They will play their 24 home games at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.  The organization will be holding open try-outs for local players looking to fulfill a lifelong aspiration and dream of playing professional hoops.  I'm sure by now you can venture a guess as to where this is going.  I'm trying out. It's a two day session one being held on the 8th and 9th, the other on the 16th and 17th.  That would be a day after my 30th birthday.  I haven't decided which I will be attending, but my registration is filled out and turned in.

Crazy, right?  I can imagine some of my buddies reaction when they read this.  The reality is the D-League is an up and coming pro league that has some of the best basketball players in the world.  Mostly Division I players that did not get drafted or invited to an NBA training camp.  The number of players in the NBA that graduated from the D is growing every year.  A daunting reality for me indeed. 

Am I hanging on to a few words a former NBA player said to me almost a decade ago?  Maybe...  I used to play at Springside Raquet Club in Akron where former NBA player and Euro MVP Jimmy Oliver worked out in the offseason.  We would go at it from time to time.  Just playing one on one.  He told me once I should go try and play in Europe.  Get an agent and see if he could get me a shot.  Far fetched again, I know.

But that's not it.  The fact of the matter is I love the game of basketball, and I'm good at it.  I'm better than any of my coaches ever gave me credit for.  I am also in the best shape of my life physically and playing better basketball than I ever did.  I also have absolutely nothing to lose by going to an open tryout and playing the game I enjoy so much.  I would regret not giving it a shot the rest of my life.  Even if the likelihood of making the team is slim to none.  Even if I will probably have to have the conversation, "How did it go?", "I didn't make it", a million times. Even if I fall flat on my face.  So I'm going to do it.  I'm going to go out there and leave it all out on the floor and play a meaningful game of basketball for probably the last time in my life. No matter the outcome I'll know that I wasn't too afraid of something to take a chance.  That I relied more in my belief than anything else.   

I would encourage any of you reading this to take the same approach with anything in your life that you've be afraid to try, or just haven't pulled the trigger on yet. I have to believe that most great accomplisments were preceded by failure at some level.  Take a risk. Even if it means taking on a few bruises along the way.


Indians Season Wrapup

I have a terrible taste in my mouth after the Indians concluded what was a more or less successful season.  Considering the preseason predictions and the financial climate in which they operate, I should be happy with a 11-game improvement over last year and a decent outlook for 2012.  Still, did they HAVE to lose ALL NINE of their final games against the Tigers?  Did they have to be swept thrice in three late-season series?  That's the difference between an 80-82 team and a 89-73 team.  Had they won ONE of those games, their record would today be standing at a respectable .500.  And really, 81-81 just looks much nicer than 80-82.  What's worse, much of the damage done in those games came at the hands of former Indians Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta, who exasperated fans in Cleveland by being boring, 'fat' and putting up a meager 20 and 80 each season.

I'm trying to be positive here, but those 9 games really stick in the craw.


Anyway, here are the conclusions I've drawn: 


Second Place - I had them finishing 6th in their 5-team division, so 2nd place in the standings looks mighty good considering my preseason pessimism.

The Bullpen - Anchored by five arms with a composite ERA of 2.74: Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith and closer Chris Perez (36/40 in save opportunities).  This complement of relievers was unimpeachable.  If bullpens weren't so maddeningly inconsistent from year to year, I'd say the team should be set through 2015 in this department.  These unsung stalwarts kept the season afloat when the injuries and losses started mounting. 

Asdrubal Cabrera - A late season fade does not negate an injury-free breakout year.  Never saw the 25 home runs coming.  He's no Vizquel in the field, but the occasional flub with the glove is more than offset by frequent brilliance.  Without the team MVP, we're talking 15 fewer wins, at least.  Would have been a candidate for league MVP but for the second-half dropoff. 

Justin Masterson - Rotation's MVP.  Never complained that the team averaged 0.3 runs for him.  Should have won 18 games.  Ideal #2 starter.

Carlos Santana - Quick hands and a violently powerful swing generate tons of power.  When (if) he learns to shorten his swing by a fraction, he will be a 30+ 100+ guy.  Combines power with patience.  I love how often he gets on base, but he needs to hit .280, not .240. A hair's breadth away from superstardom.

Josh Tomlin - This kid doesn't have the showiest arm, but he displayed good stuff and poise well beyond his years his first campaign.  I don't think anyone foresaw a 12-7 season.  Went 2-2 with an RBI and a run scored in stupid interleague play.  Pitchers should never hit.  Ever.

Jason Kipnis - Rookie looks like a gamer.  Hard-nosed and ready to play immediately upon his call up from AAA.  Showed a lot of power and no jitters in his first big-league action.  Starting second baseman next year, end of story.

Shelley Duncan - Can't believe I'm saying this, but he should have been playing every day on this team.  He remains a backup outfielder on a good team, though.  Incendiary August has me hoping he's back next year as our fourth outfielder.

Manny Acta - Kept the kids playing hard through a summer swoon and all the way up to the bitter end.


Ubaldo Jimenez - The team's success next year hinges on Ubaldo's success.  I commend Antonetti's testicular fortitude for trading pitching prospects #1 and #2 for a guy who could very well be the next Fausto Carmona.

Kosuke Fukudome - He is what he is, but he stabilized an injury-plagued outfield with some energetic play after a midseason trade.

Travis Hafner - Found his swing.  Hit several game winning home runs.  Got injured.

Fans - Beat last year's attendance.  Beat projections.  Should have been more supportive of an overachieving team that thrived at home.

Lonnie Chisenhall - Third baseman of the future looked overmatched.  I'm not crazy about his bat speed (slow) or his apparent aversion to getting on the basepaths.  Has all the swagger and confidence of a young Andy Marte.  Better keep these guys around:

Jack Hannahan and Jason Donald - Did what utility infielders are supposed to do: not much.  Hannahan was, at times, spectacular at third.  Can't hit a lick.

Ezequiel Carrera - Stubbornly unproductive.  Give the guy 700 ABs and you will get a solid .255 with 20 RBI.


Matt LaPorta - Sabathia for LaPorta will go down as one of the five worst trades in the history of the franchise.  Classic no-tool player.  Doesn't hit for average or power.  Doesn't get on base.  Can't field.  Can't run.  His 11 home runs were three more than utility infielder Jack Hannahan's.  All of his RBI were earned on fielder's choice groundouts.  Should never have another at bat with this team.

Matt LaPorta - He predicted that this season would determine if he was a 15 or a 40 home run guy, then failed to amass 15 home runs.

Matt LaPorta - Led the league in getting jammed.

Fausto Carmona - Enough already.  Sick stuff, and absolutely no faith in it.  If fellow sinkerballer Jake Westbrook had Fausto's arm, he'd be a Hall of Famer.

Shin-Soo Choo - Got drunk, got injured, didn't produce when he was on the field.  The team's all around best player from the past two seasons might as well have used 2011 to fulfill his military obligation in South Korea.  Major letdown.  Cost the team many, many victories.

Grady Sizemore - I'm sure Grady will have a renaissance with another team.  Played well for one week after returning from injury, and then got injured.  Still strikes out too much.  Career in shambles.  Should be on the verge of a $20+ million contract with the Yankees. Pundits wonder if the Indians will pick up his option.  Future Pittsburgh Pirate?

Injuries - Sizemore, Brantley, Choo (that's the entire starting outfield, folks), Tomlin, Carrasco, Talbot (that's three starting pitchers), Hafner, Kipnis...etc, etc.  The staggering body count made necessary the services of guys like Ezequiel Carrera.

Jim Thome - So, the guy skips town for more money and, after he clears waivers 10 years later and collects a couple of feel-good homers, suddenly we're erecting a STATUE of him?  Makes me almost as sick as Chief Wahoo does.

Chief Wahoo - This ugly, obnoxious, outmoded, tacky, offensive and racist logo remains, aside from Matt LaPorta's swing, the most hideous sight in all of American Sport.

Dolans - 0.0 McBones.  Why be that rich and own a baseball team if you're not going to enjoy it?  Dolans are like the guy who buys a Ferrari and parks it in storage for 40 years.

So that's it.  I'll give this season a 3.0 McBone rating with a--yes I'm going there--positive outlook.  Another year of seasoning and a few less injuries should have them in the hunt in 2012.  They will not be good enough/healthy enough/lucky enough to make the playoffs, but a five game improvement is plausible.

Oh, and regarding the events of yesterday:

Ballplayers have been chafing under the sportswriter irritant for as long as there have been ballplayers and sportswriters.  This is the best of the best.  I believe the reporter intentionally asked the stupidest question possible to see if Jonathan Papelbon's head would explode.  Watch his eyes bug out.  See the unfiltered hate pour forth:

Jonathan Papelbon's pain = McBone endorphin rush.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

McBone Birdwatchign Journal; Eastern Bluebird

Last week my very sprightly, sometimes-pregnant wife sprang up from a sitting position, catapulted herself over the orb...

...somersaulted to my desk, grabbed the camera, and, a split second before it flitted away, captured this eastern bluebird perched atop our feeder stand:

A tree-filled city neighborhood is not the natural habitat of a bluebird.  How nice of it to stop by McBone Manor for a spell.  All it took was an Olympian display of athleticism to bring it to you, gentle McBoners.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Monstrous Oversight

As my two partner bloggers and resident Musicologist recently chimed in regarding the breakup of R.E.M., I feel compelled to hold up my corner of the triumvirate.  What follows is a brief history of my experience with the band:

1989 - Watched video for Stand.  Outwardly dismissed it as 'weird.'  Inwardly embraced it as 'awesome and weird.'

Aug. 1995 - Enrolled at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

Sep. 1995 - Watched video for Tongue.  Capitally enjoyed melodic piano, organ and slow, sensual Stipe falsetto.  Vowed to listen to roommate's copy of Monster all the way through.  Too stoned to remember to follow through on vow.

Oct. 1995 - Answered 'YES!' to question 'Do you like R.E.M.?' posed by amorous co-ed.  Inability to unclasp brassiere incites chaos.  Dropped out of Ohio University.

Jun. 2008 - Remembering fondness for Tongue, tried downloading track to iTunes.  Transaction failed due to 'insufficient funds' in bank account.

Sep. 2011 - Watched video for Stand and Tongue on YouTube.

So there you have it.  I feel the final chapter of this decades-long tale has yet to be written.  I respect the musical tastes of my partner bloggers without reservation, except when it comes to Shaft and his curious yen for the sounds of X-mas.  I may be painfully late to the party, but better late than never.  So let's do this thing.  I hereby announce my official Quest for R.E.M. Fanhood, to commence immediately upon posting.  I have high hopes; lots of good stuff has come out of Georgia.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We Are All Texans Now

I don't know much about Troy Davis, except that he died tonight by lethal injection.  He could well have been a cold-blooded killer who shot a cop to death, but I'm in no position to opine on that.  This isn't about Troy Davis, anyway.

This isn't about morality, either.  I don't have any real objection to a murderer being repaid in kind.

What I believe, though, is that any state that hands down a sentence of death will eventually err.  Somewhere, sometime, an innocent person will die.

Capital punishment should exist only in an infallible system.  Maybe that's what our latest cowboy of a presidential candidate thinks he has down there in the Lone Star State.  I would argue that there's no such thing, and the practice, states' rights be damned, must be abolished forevermore.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

McBone Mini-Reviews; Drive

I was going to use this space to tell you all how much I liked Drive.  You know, like back in the distant past when I used to do movie reviews?  If I had some kind of tricked-out, time-traveling sports car with a stainless steel exterior made by a long defunct manufacturer, I'd revisit those days and say that what I liked most was how purely cinematic the film was, how Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn bucks the conventions of bloated Hollywood, doesn't OD on dialogue or plot and lets images tell a story about a guy who drives.  Channeling the silent era is to be admired in the age of Michael Bay doing to cinema what Olive Garden has done to Italian.

I'd like to go on about how good Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan are at shutting up and expressing themselves with subtle gesture and quiet wit.  I could tell you how terrifying Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman are as second-rate gangster thugs.  And then there's the way Refn gives the flick real style with long takes, synthy songs and a seriously laid-back 'tude.  Not to say Drive is a snoozer--there's real menace behind the hypnotic pace that keeps things moving along.

All that stuff would be terrific to blog about, but what I can't get out of my head is one of the most brutal onscreen killings I've ever seen.  It wasn't really the killing itself that got me as much as the reaction of the crowd.  While my jaw clenched at the sight of savage, execution-style violence, several in the audience erupted in howling laughter.  Mind you, this was not a funny death; this was a very seriously rendered murder.  All around us, young men guffawed as if Inspector Clouseau was tumbling down a flight of stairs.

You can impugn my sense of humor if you like, but I've laughed at movie death before.  Even with splashes of humor here and there, at no point does Drive feel like parody.  The scene in question had all the hilarity of a cancer diagnosis.

So, I don't know whether to be relieved that there remains a shred of sensitivity in my own numbed-down psyche or disturbed by the apparent enthusiasm with which many of us observe violent death.

I get it that it's just a movie, but then is it?  Why do we go to movies, if not for a sense of pathos?   And why do so many of us seem to get worked up about human death when it comes to the unborn or the vegetative?


Drive: 4.5 McBones

Audience response to gruesome death: 0.0 McBones


Friday, September 16, 2011

Indy, St Elmo, Buckeyes, and Browns!

I think maybe sometime early in my teens I decided that I was going to live life to its fullest.  Every opportunity to create a "memory" I was going to take, and every opportunity to do something "memorable" I would be open to the adventure.  Life is so fragile and I think people are so often held back from really doing the things they want to do.  Maybe it's perception, maybe it's financial, maybe they're just scared.. I don't know.  What I do know is that I'm not going to live that way, ever.

Anyway I'm not going skydiving or climbing Mount Everest.  In fact all I'm doing is traveling 5 hrs west to visit the phenomenal city of Indianapolis.  But these little trips, these little chances to do something different and fun are what make life so enjoyable. 

So on Saturday I'm heading to Indy with my tailgating posse and we have a very simple agenda.  Have as much fun as we possible can in about a 24 hr period.  Here are the steps:
1.) 12:00pm Saturday - Depart Cleveland for a road trip with all five of us in one car.  Love road trips!
2.) 5:30pm Saturday - Arrive in Indianapolis and check in at Hilton Garden Inn directly across the street from Lucas Oil Stadium
3.) 6:00pm Saturday - Head to ST ELMO steakhouse.  Gin martini first followed by the most incredible shrimp cocktail on Earth, and then the biggest steak they have
4.) 7:30pm - ???? Saturday - Head to local Browns Backers Bar, Scotty's Brewhouse, to watch the Ohio State Buckeyes roll over the Miami Hurricanes. Kevin Mack and Hanford Dixon will be in attendance.  Both of which came to Browns Tribute Night at a Monsters game last year.  Great guys.
5.) 8:30am Sunday - Head back to Scotty's for Browns pregame tailgate
6.) 1:00pm Sunday - Sit down in our row 15 endzone seats at Lucas Oil to witness the 1st Browns victory of the season.

There is a word I've heard people use to describe things that are generally considered to be way above average.  I think the word is AWESOME.  That is basically the only word needed to describe the next 24 hours of my life.

Oh - I'm also going to Maxi's in Little Italy for dinner tonight.  TREMENDOUS restaurant.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dalai Lama in 2012!

This will sound rather pessimistic in tone, but please keep in mind that what follows is my first post since watching the Browns' season opener.

Articles like this one from the NY Times simultaneously exhilarate and frustrate the fuck out of me.

Is there life out there?  Of course.  Obviously.  To doubt it is to display very little understanding of how vast 'out there' really is.  True, HD 85512b (awesome name for a planet and, coincidentally, the serial number of our toaster) may be and probably is devoid of life, but just what if?

Astronomers cautioned that it would take years and observations from telescopes not yet built before...a search for signs of life could be undertaken. 

What I want to know is can we stop killing each other and shitting on our planet long enough to make contact or even catch a glimpse?  Can we forestall self-destruction and give these brilliant telescope builders enough time?

Doubt it.

I know we have the ingenuity to probe ever further into the unknown, but ingenuity can carry us so far without wisdom.  As celestial mysteries unfold slowly through the lens, wars keep raging and the Earth keeps cooking.  Sooner or later something's gotta give.

Now that the Dalai Lama is retiring from Tibetan politics, I wonder if His Holiness might give us a try.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Miller Time

All I'm going to say is that one tragic day begot ten tragic years and counting.

It's time to wrap this business up.

Bring 'em home.




Friday, September 9, 2011

Are you ready for the game?

I was asked that question maybe 35 times today, starting with the first person I saw when I got into work, the security guard.

It is amazing living in a city that can bring together every single walk of life.  No matter what race, gender, ethnicity, job, or where they live, we all have one thing in common. When you are in Cleveland starting in September, there is only one thing that "Are you ready for the game" can mean to us...  CLEVELAND BROWNS FOOTBALL!

It is an unspoken language that only Clevelanders understand.  This simple phrase is a bond between all of us that live and work in Northeast Ohio.  Deb (the security guard that greeted me this morning) didn't ask me if I like football, or if I like the Browns, she just wanted to gauge how excited I was that the Browns are kicking off a new era on Sunday @ 1pm vs the Cincinnati Bungals, I mean Bengals.  She didn't have to ask, she assumed, she knew that as a native of Northeast Ohio it was pretty much all I have been thinking about.

I love it.  I love the spirit and the camaraderie that the sports teams of this town bring to it's people. In less than 48 hours I'll be at my usual tailgate spot.  A group of us will be there overlooking the lake and beautiful Browns Stadium... eating my famous ribs, drinking from a keg of Great Lakes Commodore Perry, and enjoying the company of great friends. 



Thursday, September 8, 2011

How the hell do we put people to work?

One man, the owner and founder of Quicken Loans, has some ideas that I think have some merit.  Dan Gilbert has put his money where his mouth is, at the very least, you can't argue that.  The owner of a variety of companies in Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus, he has invested in the Midwest cities and believes in the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Americans. 

Ironic that we just recently celebrated Labor Day, yet zero jobs were created in the US market during the month of August.  We need to put people to work, and just as important, we need people to have the want to go back to work.  It is a two way street.

Not only that but we need the American public to reinvest in our country by starting businesses and taking risks in the marketplace. 

As soon as I can get the owners and founders of Gasoline Alley convinced that we should open Tremont Cleveland's Gasoline Alley, I'll be participating myself.  It's a no brainer and absolutely slam dunk for success in this market.

Take a look at Dan's blog  Great read in general, but specifically if you have a vested interest in the Midwest.  My response to his idea to create jobs is the last post.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Bringing the Soul at McBone

Take a look at the deep-fried soul we were cooking up earlier today:

That's right.  Is there any more comforting sight in the world than hot oil turning food a glorious shade of golden brown?  What's that?  Don't think a pasty Caucasian like me has any right to dabble in the sacred art of soul food?  Think I should stick to burgers and dogs?  Bet you wouldn't be saying that if you knew who our grandfather was!

My heritage really came through for us this time.  The chicken was juicy and delicious.  Went great with collard greens and macaroni and cheese, too.

Chew on that, KFC.

Happy Labor Day!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Letter of Love to my RHS Family

So many things in life piss me off.  Goverment, politics, mayonnaise, hate, cancer, etc. etc.  Life can be so stressful at times that it actually becomes difficult to function.  Had a slight meltdown two weeks ago in fact, I actually had to leave work....Which I NEVER do.  But when I'm with my crew all is right with the world...  So anyway....

I sat around the house today reflecting on how I spent my Saturday, but more specifically who I spent it with.  I have a group of friends that I went to high school with that I absolutely consider a part of my family.  When we are together nothing else that is happening in the world, or with our personal lives really matters.  It doesn't make a difference if we haven't seen each other in two days or two years, or how many times we've talked in between.  Regardless of what we're doing we are going to find a way to make it memorable. We just click, and we always have.  Then most of my friends went to OU and we added an entirely new set of people to our family, and to be honest, it's like they have been there the whole time.  Every time I met one of them, it was love at first sight, was.

We celebrated Jonny Congeni's 30th birthday last night.  Most of us are turning 30 this year, which is just baffling to me.  It seems like we were just sneaking out of the house to TP someone's house or drink some beers at the swing.  Or heading to lasertag and asking every person smoking for one cigarette till we had collected enough to fill a plastic bag.  Or partying at Flanagan's house for two weeks while Aunt Dee and Dr. Pat were out of town.  Our trips to Windsor were unreal.  The Bowler house party freshman year which still lives in infamy. Or just torturing all of our parents in any and all ways imaginable.  Insert very long and sincere apology here.  There are so many amazing memories, and so many more to come as we head into the next chapters of our adult lives.  I'm so proud of the people my friends have become and to the growing numbers being added through boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, husbands, kids, etc.  Heard many times that you should surround yourself with the type of people that will make you successful.  Well I can say without question that my posse is made up some of the most intelligent, most talented, sincere, exciting, passionate, and genuinly good human beings out there.  I would not be the person I am today if not for the influence of having all these people in my life for so long. 

I love you guys, and there is not a thing in the world that I wouldn't be willing to do for you. 


Saturday, September 3, 2011

The McBone Birdwatching Journal; Birds Sighted

The blinding sun made birding a challenge this morning here at the manor and at the Celery Bog, but there were some highlights mixed in there:

Great blue heron
Green heron
Hairy woodpecker
Red-headed woodpecker - Check out this elusive bird, brought to you in grainy yet breathtaking HD video:

Blue jay
House wren
House finch - see nature at her least majestic.  Still, even the unsung female house finch deserves her 15 minutes.  We give you 45 seconds in crystalline high-def video:

Female maybe, but certainly not a lady.

Mourning dove
Mallard duck
Tree swallow
Ruby-throated hummingbird
Field sparrow

Happy long weekend, McBoners and fellow birders!