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The Mop-Up (Ep.4, Row 2, Seat 3): All Things Cleveland!

The Top Thrill Dragster was added to Cedar Point’s collection of roller coasters in 2003. It was the newest, tallest, fastest—craziest!—ride in the land. With speeds approaching 130 mph and a straight shot up into the stratosphere, nearing 400 feet high, and then a straight descent back down…well, it was something to behold.

Cedar Point is located in Sandusky Ohio, near Cleveland, Ohio.

My friends and I took a trip to Cedar Point that summer. We had one objective: Ride the Top Thrill Dragster. And, if there was time, maybe get a tee-shirt or something.

We arrived at the park early, immediately sprinting to get in line for this majestic machine. Then, we hit some traffic. While I tried to fool myself into questioning the Law of Averages, total chaos ensued. Everyone else at the park had the same idea, the same infatuation, the same roller coaster fanaticism.

The line formed quickly, clogging like peanut butter in a nervous chihuahua.

The wait? Approximately three hours.

But this amount of time didn’t matter to us (or any of the other hoards that gathered for the opportunity). And this was before Snickers made it cool to wait, too. There was no Twitter. No Facebook or Snapchat or cellphone apps that could tell what flight number just passed above you.

No, this was willpower.

The anticipation grew as we watched test runs turn into the real thing.

The  fake drag racing car would fill with people, while revving engine sounds blared from a speaker nearby.  The lights on the left would signal the countdown…yellow…yellow…yellow…then, holy shit.

 

Screams would echo as the car passed above us and into the clouds, then back down again in a matter of seconds. The look on the passengers’ faces, their hair, it said it all: They looked like troll dolls that just had sex with Ray Liotta. It was terror and happiness, morphed into one expression.

Almost four hours had passed until our turn at thrilling dragster-mania had arrived.

Finally!

We had waited so long, went through so much pain and anguish…we all had to pee…yet, we stuck it out and were prepared for our victorious pay dirt…

We were a mere three steps from collecting our thrills when a park employee stopped us, shook his head in a smiling-yet-here-comes-not-great-news kind of way, and he told us this ride was finished for a while. Repairs, or greasing, or something with a loose bolt…Basically, it was over.

I cried, but only because urine was coming out of my nose at that point.

The letdown was something I would never forget. It reminded me very much of Cleveland sports: Just when there seems to be some momentum building, when things look exciting, when you get really close, I mean three steps from taking the crown, shit breaks down and you’re left waiting…again.

(Maybe forever.)

That is, until now.

If you aren’t a basketball fan, or you don’t know anything about the Cleveland Cavaliers or people reading LeBron James’ letter voiced as Morgan Freeman, it’s time to pay attention. Because you just missed one of the greatest championship stories to ever happen in sports. Any sport.

James and the (his?) Cavaliers shocked the basketball universe on Father’s Day, defeating the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, bringing the first championship to the city since… 1964.

Yep, you read that correctly. Something sports-related went in favor of the city of Cleveland. LeBron was good on his promise to the fans…Rachel Phelps be damned.

Amazed? It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Cleveland? LeBron? The Warriors won a record 73 regular season games, and had the Finals locked up at 3-1. They had Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and their cant-miss three-pointers, Draymond Green and role players a plenty.  But they lost. To Cleveland.

They lost to Cleveland in Oakland.

It’s the equivalent of Darth Vader saying, “Luke, I think I got this wrong, bud. I’m pretty sure Lando’s your dad, so… you know, good luck with the mining in the clouds stuff.”

In other Cleveland news…

 

Howard the Duck is an Asshole

Now that Cleveland is back in the driver’s seat, it’s time to point out that some people in the past have been judgmentally rude toward the city.

And by people, I mean Ducks.

Howard the Duck, the title of the 1986 film and the main character, was sucked off his couch in Duck World, transporting through a portal that ventured passed moons and planets—a long-ass venture that took an entire opening credits to get through—finally landing in Cleveland. He called it: Cleve. Land.

The story gets a little fuzzy after this, but basically he spends the entire movie building sexual tension with the human Lea Thompson. During their fist encounter, while Lea Thompson is contemplating inviting Howard back to her place—so he could get sucked off her couch—a simple question is asked:

Howard-the-Duck

Human Lea Thompson: Hey, you got some place to go?

Howard (a duck): Look doll, if I did have some place to go it certainly wouldn’t be in Cleve Land.

Eventually they kiss, which is weird, but not before Human Lea Thompson finds a condom in Howard’s wallet and thinks it’s cute. It’s quite the plot twist.

The movie was a flop, as expected, unlike the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers!!!

 

The Parade

In 2015, a record was set for the largest crowd ever at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, with an estimated 3.5 million people crowding the New York streets. It’s unimaginable that amount of people would ever collectively want to watch something that equates to steady foot traffic with a few balloons mixed in. But that’s beside the point, here.

Consider this:

 

When you think about the population of New York City (the largest in the U.S.) and the popularity of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (floating Snoopy and whatnot), and then compare it to Cleveland (the 51st largest city) and their Championship Parade, it’s mind-boggling!

Somebody feed these things after midnight, Billy? Um, nooooo…it’s called championship fever, and not only was the entire city infected, the entire state was bringing more cowbell.

Even the walls were getting populated (via brobible.com):

cavsparade.jpeg

 

And Now, I Create a Fake NSFW Message from Ben Affleck, Based on His ‘Any Given Wednesday’ Appearance on HBO.

Well, fucking Cleveland is fucking, fuckety-fuck-butter-nut-squash, fuck, fucking…I mean, fuck, you know? Fucking, they did it, fucking LeBron is fucking, fucking, he’s fucking great. That fucking city did it and fucking Goodell had nothing to fucking to do with it.

And Tom Brady fucking loves the people of Cleveland. And I fucking know, because I am a fucking celebrity from fucking Boston…

(Drinks another beer and applies some chapstick)

Fuck it. Congrats to fucking, you know, fucking Cleveland.

 

Speaking of Washing Your Mouth Out with Soap

 

The sweet taste of victory, perhaps?

Nope, that’s a guy eating a piece of shit.

I had to research this through several internet black holes, looking for anything, any assurance that this was some Bro’ Hoax.

But I was wrong.

This Cleveland fan was so happy—so wasted—so damn excited his team finally won the trophy, that he ate shit. Yes, shit.

That’s passion.

It brings new meaning to the reference, too. No longer will Eating Shit mean that you fell, horribly, landing in some unattractive and painful position…

Now, it will be known as a celebratory method.

 

Don’t Overlook the Baseball, Cleveland

The Cleveland Indians have been around since 1901. Since then, the organization has produced two championships for the city (1920, 1948), while also providing the action for a whole bunch of pain and lost opportunities (See: Florida Marlins, 1997).

The Indians became a part of pop culture lore as the downward-spiraling team in Major League. From them, we learned things like Joe Boo, Harry Doyle’s play-by-play techniques, and that Eddie liked to put Vagisil on the baseball or, if the umps were watching him, he would revert to snot.

th.jpeg

Charlie Sheen was one wild thing, man. Renee Russo made you want to have sex with a librarian.

And that was about it when it to came to Indians baseball…

That was then, however; this is 20-(to coin a Ben Affleck term)-Fucking-16 Cleveland. The Indians are 43-30, first place in the AL Central. They have solid starting pitching—with surprises like Josh Tomlin and Danny Salazar backing the Cy Young potential of Corey Kluber—and the offense is in the upper half (14th) of overall team hitting in the American League.

Could it be two championships in 2016 for Cleveland…?

At the very least, if you happen to visit the area this summer (which is beautiful during that time), go catch a game at Progressive Field (which is also beautiful).

th.jpeg

 

Winning Changes the Community

Let’s not just pick on the dude who became a famous juggernaut of feasting on feces; the entire Cavaliers fan base probably has a little bit of a shit-eating grin on their collective mugs. And that’s perfectly acceptable; winning enables happiness, not just for the team but the for the community.

It changes…things.

Need proof?

Look:

Not too long ago, Cavaliers fans wanted to burn—and did burn—anything that involved LeBron James. The dude left Cleveland for Miami, abandoning his Ohio roots for consistent sunshine and alligator moccasins… and white shirts and white pants and more white shirts and pants, etc.

It pissed off Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert enough to write a letter (via ESPN):

Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”

You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….

Dan Gilbert

Majority Owner

Cleveland Cavaliers

Wow! (And, apparently, things haven’t been totally squashed between the two.)

LeBron’s decision hurt the city, without question. He broke an unwritten rule: Regardless of where you live—and regardless of your truest opinion of that living space—no one wants to be publicly demeaned by one of their own. And that’s exactly what happened. He was no different from Howard the Duck or Joakim Noah or any of the joke-tellers out there who use Cleveland as a punchline. LeBron left Cleveland for something presumably better.

And now?

 

I Know the Feeling

Two hours later, the Top Thrill Dragster was greased, bolted and re-opened for business. My friends and I climbed in, buckled all that needed buckling, and we smiled. Then, HOLY SHIT!

It was worth the wait.

Congratulations Cleveland!

 

Let’s Have Pedals the Upright Walking Bear Close This Thing Out:

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