Progressive Intolerance

A fan wearing a LeBron James Heat #6 jersey at a Cleveland Indians’ game at aptly-named Progressive Field had to be escorted out of the stands by police after polite, midwestern Clevelanders continuously harassed the guy:

(NOTE to my “progressive” readers: I just had to indulge myself with the “Progressive”/intolerant link. Please don’t take it too seriously. Thanks)

CLEVELAND —

A fan wearing a Miami Heat jersey of LeBron James drew the ire of the crowd at a Cleveland Indians game and was escorted out of the ballpark.

Fans in the left-field bleachers chanted obscenities and pointed at the man Wednesday night during the sixth inning of the game between the Indians and New York Yankees. Hundreds of fans joined in before security led the man out of Progressive Field.

As he left, some fans followed him toward the gate with more derisive chants.

James’ recent departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Heat caused a lot of anger in the city.

Many fans were near the left-field foul pole in hopes of catching the 600th home run ball by the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez.

See video here.

This is Just Ridiculous

Dwyane Wade gets criticized for making a general analogy between the Heat losing a couple of games in a row and subsequent press reaction equaling that of the World Trade Center towers collapsing.

Referring to the potential reaction from losing two or three games in a row, Wade on Sunday said: “It’s going to seem like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade has just went down again.”

Wade’s reaction to the reaction:

“In an interview [Sunday], I attempted to explain how some people might view the Miami Heat losing a few basketball games in a row during the upcoming season,” Wade said in the statement. “I was simply trying to say that losing a few basketball games should not be compared to a real catastrophe.”

I understand, Dwyane. I’m sure most normal people understand what you meant. Unfortunately, we live in pretty abnormal times where anything and everything gets twisted out of shape and a poor choice of words in an otherwise innocent and perfectly understandable statement gets interpreted as offensive and insensitive.

Note to Rep. Wasserman-Schultz and Sen. Menendez

Yesterday, SFDB wrote a note to Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) regarding her protesting of the forcible release of Cuban prisoners.

In reply, here’s my note to Rep. Wasserman-Schultz and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez (D):

Dear Rep. Wasserman-Schultz and Sen. Menendez,

Thank you very much for clearly and strongly expressing your principled stance against the treatment of Cuban political prisoners by the oppressive (c)astro regime on the floors of Congress. In this day when partisan politics and ideology too often trumps common sense, liberty and respect for basic human rights, your condemnation of a brutal and oppressive regime 90 miles from our shores, and particularly your support of the brave Cuban dissidents and political prisoners, sends a clear message that the long-cherished American values of freedom and individual rights still transcend political affiliation.

Thank you for being advocates for freedom and basic human rights, regardless of where it may place you on the political spectrum.

Thank you for not falling into the trap of petty ideological battles and making a firm stand for our God-given American values which are to be shared and enjoyed by all.

Your colleagues, constituents and the Cuban dissidents themselves deserve nothing less.

Respectfully,

Robert Molleda

¡Viva España!

It was a chippy and very non-technical World Cup final, to say the least. Not the kind of game you want to show your soccer-doubting buddies. The Dutch felt their only chance to stop the fluid Spanish game was to throw cleats at Spanish ankles (and chests). It almost worked.  When the stakes are at their highest, you do what you have to do to try to win, I guess.

Anyway, it was all righted in the end. The best player on the best team scored the winning goal, and the best goalkeeper in the world got to raise the trophy.

Aside from today, I’ll remember this World Cup for the following reasons:

- Gutsy effort by the United States team. Landon Donovan’s last-minute goal versus Algeria still gives me goose-bumps. In the end, lack of defensive skill hurt them against Ghana.

- Speaking of Ghana, Asamoah Gyan may never recover from the biggest choke in recent World Cup history (missing a last-second game-winning penalty kick that would have sent Ghana to the semis).

- Uruguay without Diego Forlan is a decent team, at best. With Forlan and a lot of luck (see Asamoah Gyan above) they were semifinalists.

- Germany’s dismantling of Argentina was a thing of beauty. Seeing Maradona with a sourpuss expression was priceless.

LeBron Reaction

I apologize to all my readers for the hiatus. Partially self-induced and circumstantial, I have accepted the fact that I will have long periods where I can’t/won’t blog. I hope you understand and accept this.

Anyway, now that I’ve broken the silence, I figured I’d weigh in with my two predictable cents on LeBron James in Miami and the Big Three.

As a Heat fan since their first season, I’m obviously very excited. The subject of this post, however, isn’t about my feelings about the Heat in 2010 and beyond, but on the reaction to LeBron’s decision. Although I can’t relate 100% to the way devoted Cleveland fans feel, I understand their deep disappointment. I also understand their disgust, particularly in the WAY LeBron made the announcement (and, no, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers can’t excuse his infantile rant on him being a “fan”).

What’s obvious, at least to me, is the hypocrisy of many sportswriters and even general fans in criticizing LeBron for joining the Big Three in Miami. Let’s say LeBron, Wade and Bosh land in City X instead of Miami. You think City Xers would feel the same way? It’s all about “my city didn’t get LeBron”, simple as that. Understandable reaction, but making some righteous-sounding excuse instead of admitting that it’s sour grapes doesn’t make one look any better.

There’s also the anti-Miami sentiment. Jorge Costales (thanks for the call the other day, BTW) nails this particular aspect of the issue here. No need to expand or elaborate on Jorge’s commentary, except to briefly add that anti-Miamiitis doesn’t merely exist outside of South Florida. It’s alive and well in Miami itself. But that’s a topic for another day.

(UPDATE to above: the post at 2 Think Good was written by guest blogger Wichi).

As alluded to earlier, the way the whole process unfolded was distasteful in many ways and contributed heavily to the anti-LeBron reaction in Cleveland and elsewhere. Is LeBron’s cockiness/arrogance to blame? The easy and popular answer is yes, but I will contend that LeBron James is neither extremely cocky or arrogant. Cockiness and arrogance are linked to an over-inflated sense of importance, w0rth or ability. There’s no way a rare physical and athletic specimen LeBron James can exaggerate his abilities on the court. He’s damn good, and he knows it. Besides, a truly arrogant basketball player would refuse to team up with two guys of nearly the same skill level.

I would say LeBron is more narcissistic than cocky. Lacking humility? Absolutely. The whole free agency and “Decision” process, all the way down to the one-hour ESPN special, offers all the proof needed. Even here, one must consider the marketing and business side of sports in the modern age. As Dan Wiederer of the Fayetteville Observer astutely points out, it’s the nature of the beast and we’re happy to oblige and contribute to it. Guess all those Cleveland fans that burned his jersey must have had a sudden enlightenment as to King James’ opinion of himself.

I was closely watching LeBron’s body language during the “Decision 2010″ broadcast (BTW, rumor has it he’s a big supporter of the D side of the political house. I know…big deal). The hints of humility, even vulnerability, he showed as he was asked the questions leading up to and including his announcement of the winning franchise belied his ‘tude on the court and in the gym, and was more fitting of a 25-year-old young man who’s never been away from home (watch how he moves his lips silently after he stated that he was coming to Miami, almost as he was repeating it to himself in order to assure himself that it was the right decision). It’s like he knew that his decision was going to upset a lot of people back home (no doubt on that one), which would bother any mere mortal.

Finally, of all the sports columns I’ve read on the matter, no one hits the nail on the head like Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel on the man that made this happen. The Heat started the Summer of 2010 campaign early this year, no doubt hoping and anticipating for this scenario to play out. As Hyde points out, don’t think Pat Riley stumbled onto his good fortune, because he set it up beautifully like a Wade/James alley-oop. Riley is a master when it comes to the business and motivational side of the game.

Anyway, should be fun. I can’t wait for the spring of 2012 in Miami sports-land. Second year of the Heat dynasty and a new baseball stadium.  Eat your heart out, New York, Chicago, LA, et.al.

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