Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ping pong balls

I will never forget where I was on May 22, 2003. I was sitting in Jacobs Field along side the first base side foul pole.

After all those years of sellouts, it seemed like it was a really small crowd but everything is relative since there were over 18,000 in the stadium.

It was the last days before everyone had a cell phone. Those that did have them — well, they were merely phones. All the information in the history of the world wasn’t just yet at our fingertips.

It started slow but it spread quickly.

There was one loud yelp but in seconds the murmur grew. Within moments the majority of the crowd was partying as if Tony Pena had just ripped an extra inning home run into bleachers to win a playoff game.

The players on the field were perplexed and by the time the center field scoreboard proclaimed what everyone had already learned the celebration was in full swing.

The Indians won the game in 11 innings that day but I had to look that up. What I do remember is this collective feeling that things were going to get better.

One of our own was going to save us and this was going to be a day we would never forget.

Well, we all know how that turned out.

This year I had honestly I forgotten until the day before when this year’s lottery would take place. I no longer believe in saviors.

On the day of the lottery I was at a bar playing team trivia. The TV in my direct view had the Indians game on. They were winning.

Once again there was a yelp. I looked up and the Indians weren’t scoring so I assumed the Cavs got the top pick.

I continued playing trivia. There was no buzz around the bar. Everyone went on with their lives.

It was maybe an hour later when I checked my phone and saw that indeed the Cavs had won the top pick. I waited another 20 minutes before I clicked on the link to discover that it was the Clippers pick that snagged the top spot and the Cavs own pick was fourth.

So I missed all the awesomeness that was Nick Gilbert.

On that awful day last July, Dan Gilbert who many Clevelanders had seen as a carpetbagger earned his street cred.

The nation mocked his letter. Most of us thought he was nuts as well but it played well with the home base.

Gilbert was certainly not blameless for what transpired last year. He can come off as smug and arrogant. The dude knows how to make money but when you make your living on home loans and convince a state to give you a sweetheart casino deal — it is hard to pass yourself off as a man of the people.

I don’t know if Gilbert wants a title for the good people of Cleveland or out of spite. Frankly I don’t care if he is genuine or merely full of slick Madison Avenue theatrics. The man knows his audience.

Bernie Kosar. Joshua Cribbs. Joe Haden. His courageous and lovable son.
A few high draft picks aren’t going to make the Cavs championship contenders overnight.

In 1986 the Cavs drafted Brad Daugherty, Ron Harper and Mark Price and Hot Rod Williams was let out of purgatory. Still it took six years to get to a conference final and they never did get to the finals. The last lottery ball didn’t pan out either.

However Dan Gilbert is going to do whatever it takes and even if he fails — he isn’t going to quit.

As Clevelanders that is all we ask.