Friday, April 27, 2012

Glory on the Floor

Fellow Akronites, Firestone High School Grads, McBoners one and all!

One of our missions here at McBone is to support our friends and family in their creative endeavors.  My old high school pal and cross-country teammate (State Champs in 1991, as I recall...) Kim and her collaborator Brian (alas, not from Akron), who together form the musical duo Glory on the Floor, are raising funds for the launch of their debut album, Asheville Skyline.  Like folk?  Bluegrass?  Country?  Blues?  Anything with an upright bass?  So do we!  Take a listen, and you'll hear why we're stamping it most emphatically with the McBone Seal of Approval:

Making it as a musician is a struggle.  Travel, production and promotion add up.  But music is among the worthiest of struggles, so won't you make a modest donation in support of this project?  The drive ends Sunday, Apr 29 at 12:01 AM, and they are nearing their goal.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Peanut Butter and Folly

I accidentally bought 'low fat' peanut butter last weekend.

Just a mental lapse, but, good god, what a mistake!  And good god, what the fuck is wrong with us?

The peanut butter I like to spread on my toast contains but two ingredients:

Peanuts, salt.

Yes, the time needed to stir together the separated contents is like eleven seconds in hell, but the simple, delightful taste of roasted peanuts and salt and perhaps a drizzle of honey makes the chore worthwhile.

This peanut butter, if it can be called that, checks in at 17 ingredients:

Peanuts, corn syrup solids, sugar, soy protein, salt, fully hydrogenated vegetable oil (rapeseed and soybean), mono and diglycerides, molasses, magnesium oxide, niacinamide, ferric orthophospate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, folic acid, pyridoxine, hydrochloride.

That's a healthy alternative?  I mean, what the fuck is half that stuff?

And there's still 12 grams of fat per serving to go with the chemical infusion.

Oh, and can we talk about the taste?  Since when is peanut butter supposed to have metallic undertones?  Have you ever tasted a penny?  I'm not crazy about the aftertaste either, for the same reason I don't care for a mouthful of drywall.

Honestly, JM Smucker Company, isn't it better to keep things simple?  And come on, people, just buy the regular stuff.  The peanut butter isn't hurting you.  Seriously, it's the tacos made of Doritos with a side of no exercise.

I have to believe George Washington Carver dies another death every time a jar of this shit is opened.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Five Magical Seasons - Just The Beginning

Our first five years are in the books, but I can assure you that this is just the beginning. The Lake Erie Monsters have built a franchise in Cleveland that is going to have a lasting impact on our community for years to come.  We are going to be an institution in this city and one of the marque entertainment options for people in Northeast Ohio that are looking to come downtown.

We've won awards in professional sports for our in game entertainment.  We've grown our attendance every single year since we started.  Five years ago it was "Who are the Lake Erie Monsters" and now it is "Have you heard how much fun the Monsters games are?"

I'm sure there are many out there that still question who we are and what we are about.  To those of you in that category I challenge you. Call me personally, any time, and I'll bring you out to a game.  You will not be disappointed.  I am a die hard, lifelong, Cleveland Cavaliers, Browns and Indians fan, but as I've mentioned there is something very special, something very different about coming to a Monsters game.  Five years ago I couldn't have cared less about hockey and I had no interest in going to a game.  But once you see this sport in person, and you feel the emotion and energy of the Monsters brand, you will wonder why you haven't been coming to these games since the beginning.

 For me the last five years have meant so much more than wins and losses, sports, and far more than all the accolades and accomplishments that we have achieved.  It has been about the journey.  It has been about all those countless hours that our team has spent busting our asses to move this business forward, an inch at a time.  It has been about all the times where we had to take two steps back to take one step forward.  The two hour meetings where some of us left dejected, frustrated, crying, and wondering how we could possibly accomplish the goals we were tasked with.  It has been about building a culture that makes this one of the most enjoyable and rewarding places to work anywhere in the world. A group of people that truly believe in each other, and believe in the vision of our organization.

We've made a lot of mistakes along the way.  I've certainly made my fair share personally. But there is not a single thing that I regret or would take back if I had the chance.  Success can't happen without first experiencing failure.

I will never be able to put into words how much this organization has meant to me personally. How much the people on my team have impacted my personal and professional life.  When you wake up in the morning you can only hope that you are driven to give everything you have for the people you work for.  I have been fortunate enough to feel that way every single day since April 1st of 2007.  No matter where my path ahead leads no one can ever take away from us what we have been able to accomplish. The tattoo I have represents all of this. It represents the journey we have all gone through together, our history and our future.  An ambigram that reads Cleveland one way and Monsters the other.  A perfect blend of the two things that have meant so much to me in my life.

To My Monsters Family - The memories, relationships, the battles, and our live first, ask questions later way of life will always be our bond.  The Clevelander, the staff trips, milestone achievements, underdog mentality, our passion, and our obsession with building our brand are why that once you are a Monster, you will always be a Monster. 
We will never except anything other than becoming a success in this city.  If you bet against us, you will lose.  Every doubter, every article that says we won't make it only fuels our fire.  So please, go ahead.  Tell us hockey won't make it in Cleveland.  I dare you.

- jab

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Five Magical Seasons Cont'

It didn't take me but two or three weeks after my first day to realize that I was exactly where I belonged. I was in a place where amazing things were going to happen and I felt perfectly at home, even if I didn't know the first thing about hockey.  It is a little strange right?

You see there is something very unique about the Monsters and the people that work for our team. There is a undeniable bond that permanently ties us all together.  It creates an environment with energy permeating from the walls, and passion pouring out of the people that work within them.  Our culture is one that manifests itself in the successes that we have accomplished together. We're a team, from top to bottom, which is the only way we know how to be.  We achieve success individually only through the achievements of our team as a whole.  We love each other, plain and simple.  That doesn't mean we're all best friends, but we have a profound respect for what we all have to go through every day to have success. That is how I knew so quickly I was in the right place.  And even though we had crazy challenges in front of us, we were going to make magical things happen inside Quicken Loans Arena and in the Cleveland community.

How does it happen?  Could it be great leadership?  You better believe it. Since the day we started we've had leaders running this business that cared just as much about the success of our team, as they did of themselves in their personal careers.  But that isn't everything.  Could it also be talented team members?  there is no question about it. None of our accomplishments would have even been remotely possible if we didn't have some of the best in the business working for us. But again, there is just more to it.  There is something else that has driven this franchise to successes that most in Cleveland thought were impossible, just a pipe dream of a rich owner with money to spend.  It is a really difficult theory to articulate, but I'll do my best..... 

You'd think in a town full of such passionate people that a new team, albeit hockey, could attract some of that undying love from the people for their sports teams.  But we're "minor league".  We're not the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Cleveland Browns or the Cleveland Indians.  We never will be.  Those teams have been here for decades and have an unbelievably loyal following in this region.  A group that is unwavering in their support of the home town teams. It's one of the things I love about this city.  Thick and thin, win or lose, we are all connected through the support we show our teams. The Monsters could never possible crack into that category, right? We're minor league, in a major league town, and we're a hockey team.  Undoubtedly the least popular sport of the four majors.  (Aside from all you die hards! You know who you are.  I know how much you guys love this sport!)

Let's talk about a couple more things working against us. The Monsters resided in a building where the mother ship was and always will be the Cleveland Cavaliers.  At that time there was not a more popular team in town.  Sorry Browns fans, it is true.  Lebron James and the Cavs packed the house with 20,562 fans night in and night out.  Our staff and front office were focused on capitalizing on every single ounce of energy that followed this team during the Lebron era, and trying to make our business the best it could be.  Along with, of course, trying to win a championship.  So how the hell were the Monsters going to get any attention in a town where there are three beloved sports teams, and one with an otherworldly superstar who dominated the headlines every single day?  Well the answer was simple, we didn't.  Not even really in our own building, and not even from some of our own team members that weren't working directly on the Monsters team. (No names, please).  At least not at first.

So guess what?  It just might be that we all quickly developed a, "small", chip on our shoulders about doing everything in our power to grow this franchise. You could even probably call it a complex.  Maybe we feel like we are on a mission to prove every single doubter wrong about how successful a minor league hockey team could be in Cleveland.  Maybe since our opening night on Saturday, October, 2007, we've expended every last ounce of energy we had in our bodies to build this team into what it is today?

None of those things are a maybe......

Every single time from the day we started this thing that someone has doubted us, we have used that as fuel.  Honestly we didn't give a damn whether or not people thought we could make this work.  We've heard it all before.  In fact, just to give you an idea, here are some of my favorites that we heard repeatedly:

"Hockey has no chance to succeed in Cleveland"
"You're minor league, I'm not interested in minor league sports"
"Call when we get the NHL"
"Who are the Lake Erie Monsters"
"I have no interest in hockey"
"I went to a hockey game in Cleveland in 2005, there were 500 people in the stands, no thanks"
"This is a three horse town, and we don't have a racetrack so their is no room for a fourth" (actually I just made this one up but I wish someone would have said it!)

Well....Five years later and it is difficult for me to sum up what we've been able to accomplish, but these statistics should give you an idea.

Year One - We finished 11th in attendance.  Our first year.  Expansion franchise. 
Year Two - We finished 9th in attendance.  Already a sign of growth after only one year
Year Three - We finished 6th in attendance.  Still doubting us?  Good.  Keep it coming.
Year Four - We finished 6th again. Leveling off?  I don't think so. We fought through a year where our entire leadership team changed, and our business still grew.
Year Five - WE FINISHED 3RD IN ATTENDANCE.  That's right. 3rd.  Guess what our goal is?

Just for a little perspective, there are 30 teams in the American Hockey League. Some having been in operation for 60 or 70 years. We routinely have crowds of 10 to 12 thousand.  Sometimes I look at those numbers and I don't even believe them myself.  How did we possible make this happen? 

Belief.  We never for one second had doubts on whether or not we were going to make it happen.  Man did we go through stretches where it was tough.  I can remember distinctly walking out into the bowl in our first year and there were probably 1,500 bodies in the building.  I said to myself, what is going on? What are people going to think?  But we just kept driving.  Along the way we fought each other, sent nasty emails, yelled at each other in conference rooms, but all the while we maintained our focus on the goal.  To be the best AHL franchise in the league, and have one of the best organizations anywhere in sports.  At any level.  That belief is what carried us through all the adversity we have faced.

It is what has allowed us to become an integral part of the community. We donate thousands of tickets back every year so that the less fortunate can come out to a game and take their mind off every day life. Our players and front office make hundreds of visits out in Northeast Ohio every year to try and give back to the community that gives so much to us. It's not just about selling tickets for us. It is about building something special in Cleveland that we can all be proud of, and something we can all have pride in. A place where you can create memories with the people that mean the most to you, and not have to break the bank to do it. An environment that you can come to just sit back and have fun. Novel concept right? A sports team that allows people to simply enjoy life spending time with their friends, family or coworkers.

I could write for days, and pages upon pages about everything that has happened over the last five years. But I'll spare you the painful details, and I can assure you, they were painful....
A short (I promise) conclusion coming tomorrow......


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Five Magical Seasons....

Buckle up, this is going to be a long one....It is going to be a little bit of a story about me, and a little bit of a story about the Monsters...

A little more than five years ago I walked into Quicken Loans Arena looking for an opportunity.  I guess in reality, I was really looking to pursue my dream of working for the Cleveland Cavaliers.  I don't know exactly how it happened, or what made me walk in that day, but I did.

It was in late January or early February and I was downtown Cleveland on another appointment for the company I was currently working for, Sunset Golf.  Coincidentally, there was a job fair going on that day inside The Q.  The job fair that I have now participated in on the other side every year since.  It is an annual event where we look for the best and brightest out there looking to start a career in sports.  That particular day I walked in to The Q purely on the basis of curiosity.  I didn't exactly know what was going on until I walked in the doors.  Ten minutes after I

stepped through the Northeast entrance I found myself walking inside the building where dozens of sports teams from all over, and other local businesses, lined the concourse looking for future employees.

There was only one team I was really interested in, and that was the Cleveland Cavaliers. So I found their table and got in line to speak to a representative about any potential job opportunities.  At this point I still didn't even really know what I was doing there or what I was going to be asked about.  I just knew that working for the Cavs had always been in my heart.  That dream, however, seemed to be short lived.  My brief conversation with the rep standing at their table did not go well, and I knew it immediately.  I saw people being taken behind the table after that initial five minute conversation, and I was not one of those people they asked to come back.  The guy seemed to have little to no interest in what I had to say. That person will remain nameless.

The next part is all a bit of a blur. A few minutes later I had wandered over to the table next to the Cavs, which had a sign reading, "Lake Erie Monsters".  At that point all I could think was, well the name sounds cool, because other than that I didn't have a clue as to what or who the Lake Erie Monsters were. Which by the way, was the exact same sentiment and thought that many of my future customers would have when I first started making calls!  Anyway, I thought to myself I'm already here, so what could it hurt. 

Long story short, it turned out to be a brand new American Hockey League team that Dan Gilbert had purchased a few months earlier.  They would begin their inaugural season in October of 2007.  I got to the front of the line and spoke to a woman whom I had a completely different experience with than the gentleman on the Cavs side.  Before I knew it she had me talking to her boss, John Fisher, who at that time was overseeing the ticket sales team for the Monsters.  Before I knew what had even happened two weeks had passed, and I was hired as a Sales Consultant to begin on April 1st of 2007.  Once again, at this point, I still didn't really have a clue as to what I was getting myself into.

So I walked into Quicken Loans Arena on April 1st, 2007 as a full time sales rep for the Lake Erie Monsters.  A professional hockey team.  A hockey team.  A freaking hockey team.  How did this happen? I played college basketball.  High school tennis.  I was a baseball player.  I ran cross country.  Racquetball, kickball, track, croquet, volleyball and just about any other sport you can think of I had played at some point in my 24 years.  But never in my life had I ever set foot in an ice rink, nor had I ever seen one single second of a professional hockey game in person.  In fact I had never watched a hockey game at any level in person.  The only exposure I had to professional hockey was the 47 total seconds of NHL hockey that I had watched on TV somewhere along the line.  I blame that all on my dad.

What is the moral of this story?  The decision to walk into the arena that day was probably the best decision I've ever made in my life.  I have been fortunate enough to be a part of an amazing, memorable, almost surreal journey the last five years with the Monsters.  I've been a member of a team that has built a professional hockey team, in Cleveland, from the ground up. I think we may have even started below ground.  Buried.  At the Earth's core.  Because for the most part, that summarizes the feelings people in Cleveland had about professional hockey, at least at that particular time.

It hasn't been easy. My first week of phone calls I can't tell you how many times I heard, "hockey will never work in Cleveland,"  or even more encouraging, "The Lake Erie who? Are you the minor league baseball team?"  We all dealt with it. Every day. From Public Relations to Community Relations, Sales and Marketing, Game Ops..All of us.  We knew from day one it was going to be a battle.

So anyway, NO, we're not the minor league baseball team. I'll tell you who we are, and now I can even tell who we have become........

To be continued...


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Biden, the Bard and the Buckeye State

Last week our Poet Laureate ditched his usual combat fatigues and steel-toed boots and tucked a blue shirt into a crisp pair of newly ironed khakis.  Not just anything could persuade our #1 scribe to shower, shave and comb his hair in the same week, but then again it's not every day that Vice President Joe Biden drops by your remote compound in western Ohio to spend an afternoon.

Though the nature of the relationship between the lifelong Democrat and the militaristic poet/recluse/libertarian remains murky, it is believed that, in exchange for delivering a crucial swing state in November, the Bard had ready a list of demands for the next four years that he presented at a private conference in sub-level 14:
  • Individual mandate to purchase assault rifle
  • Phrase 'It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve' worked into pledge of allegiance
  • No abortions for anyone ever
  • No dog abortions
  • Apologize to South for Emancipation Proclamation's overreach
  • Abolish the Fed, the Treasury, the IRS, fiat currency and all spending except military
  • Pizza Hut for lunch
Here's the VP surrounded by Foliglio, various security personnel, several of the poet's wives and a handful of his 30 children:

"OK kids, lunch is on Uncle Joe!"

"No, no, no...THIN crust.  Uh-huh, right."

"Whaddya mean you're out of breadsticks?"
After wolfing some 'za, Foliglio commemorated the occasion by reading a piece from his seminal collection, 1982's Diz-aster Book of Poems, marking the first time the poet has read from his own work since the second wedding of Lyndon LaRouche.

The itch a call it

     Srach, srach, srach,
Srach srach and srach
were bing atacked by the
itch a call it (srach)  He makes
you itch like (srach) crazy
and you will srach, srach,
srach, srach, srach, srach
srach, srach and srach


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Still More McBone Family Values

We awoke this morning to a driving rain, but by early afternoon rainclouds had dissolved into bright beautiful exploding spring.  Color was splashed all across town.  A clean breeze stirred the trees.  Neighbors roamed the streets in a mirthful embrace of the season.

The timing seemed right for one of those milestone lessons for the McBonerito.

I know some of you are horrified, but don't worry.  American Spirit is additive-free.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em, McBoners, and happy Sunday!