Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lost and Found: My lunch with Brady Quinn

What a week for Cleveland sports, huh? Ohio State. The Indians. The Cleveland Browns (THUD). And don't even get me started on LeBron James (again). It looks like more of the same from the Buckeye state, don't it?

Well, not exactly: ONE thing has changed this time around in Cleveland. I no longer "live and die" with my Cleveland sports teams. More like: Live and let die.

At the very least: MY prospects look better than the Indians.

I mean, yes, I still love 'em (the bastards). But I'm done with this ridiculous roller coaster ride for the time being. Cheering for Cleveland sports teams is like a one-way ticket to Crazy Town, it seems, and "that's all I can standz ...I can't standz no more!" And Blue Moon Belgian Ale has now become my supportive can of spinach...

I've got just two parting words for the Cleveland Browns: Bill Cowher.

I've actually met the guys that run these teams: Mark Shapiro and Phil Savage. And, no, they're not bad guys. I have honestly supported both of them for the last several years ...but my patience is now wearing thin in the meantime. It is what it is.

I was lucky enough to throw out the opening pitch for a Tribe game a few years back - and it was a dream come true! Looking back, I guess, if I played my cards right, I probably would be opening their mail (or some crazy shit like that) or "mopping up" after Michael Phelps in the corporate loge ...if I towed the company line like any good droid would do in that situation.

But, in the end, like Braylon Edwards ...I dropped the ball.

I can live with it. I have never been a good "yes man" at heart. In fact, my major flaw is that I always wear my heart on my sleeve. I can live with that, too.

I sense the major turning point in my travels was the "leadership luncheon" I attended last spring which was hosted by Phil Savage (coincidentally, a "no show") and Brady Quinn in downtown Cleveland. But, here's the twist: I made an appearance at this Gotham City function not as Batman ...but, rather, Bruce Wayne (wink, wink).

Yes, I was dressed for success in my stunning business suit all ready to schmooze with the Big Boys in town. Like a lamb to the slaughter, I was ready to be "enlightened" by the brightest minds in Cleveland sports. And so it goes...

At least I passed on the "Romeo Crennel Success in Leadership" conference, later that month. I mean, what was Romeo Crennel going to teach me: The fastest way to extract a Hostess Ding-Dong from it's wrapper? Hey, Nell Carter: Give me a break!

Anyway, I was all but ready to sashay on up to the bar and order a Blue Moon Belgian Ale: "Shaken, not stirred." But, unfortunately, I soon found out that this was more of a meeting of the minds ...where the minds were waiting to slip on their religious robes and purple Nikes ...and sip the sanctimonious Kool-Aid (McEditor's Note: Ah, yes. The old bait-and-switch. Growing up in a Catholic household, I'm rather familiar with that parlor trick. In fact, it's the oldest trick in The Book. Hey, faith and freedom of religious expression are fine with me ...just not on my dime).

It reminded me of the time when I was a young lad who wrote to L. Ron Hubbard seeking more information about Scientology and his book ("Dianetics") because I thought it was some ..."cool science fiction thing" and it turned out to be ...um, something else. Yeah, kind of like that.

But the chicken was good, though. Moist!

Regardless, I was seated at the back of the room, where I was constantly "monitored" by the single security guard on duty (Just ONE security guard? Quite frankly, I'm a little insulted!). But, at the very least, it gave me a good chance to reflect and redefine myself as Brady Quinn blathered on and on (not so much about the Browns) regarding his religious convictions (as we all anxiously awaited for The Mother Ship to arrive - sponsored by AFLAC).

So what's the moral of this fractured fable, Mr. Peabody? Here it is: I need to spend less time listening to these so-called "profound" pundits for profit ...and more time focusing on my own brand of shameless self-professed bullshit (for better or for worse).

Anyway, when I first entered the dining room of the hotel, I stopped to ask a couple of businessmen if they knew where my table I was sitting at was located. They did not. But they did offer this one piece of advice:

BUSINESSMAN 1: "You're table number says zero. I don't think there is a zero table. I guess that means you're sitting at the head table next to Brady Quinn..."

BUSINESSMAN 2 (in a joking fashion): "Yeah, you must be hosting this event, huh? You better be ready to hop up on stage and say something! I hope you've got something prepared ...you're on in five minutes! Are you ready to go...?"

ME: "You now what? I think I am."

And so it goes...


And now a word from our sponsors (Lost):

JACK SHEPHARD: "Well, I'll tell you what. You stay here in your little greenhouse ...the rest of us are going home."

JOHN LOCKE: "But you're not supposed to go home."

JACK SHEPHARD: "WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO-? What was it that you said on the way out to the hatch? Oh, I think I remember: That ...crashing here was our destiny."

JOHN LOCKE: "You know, Jack. You KNOW that you're here for a reason. YOU KNOW IT. And if you leave ...this place. That knowledge is going to eat you alive ...from the inside out. Until you decide to come back..."

JACK SHEPHARD: "Goodbye, John."

JOHN LOCKE: "Jack, you're going to have to lie. About everything that happened since we crashed here. You need to lie, in order to protect the island."

JACK SHEPHARD: "It's an island, John. It doesn't need protecting."

JOHN LOCKE: "It's not an island. It's a place where miracles happen. And, Jack, if you can't see that. Well, you just wait and see what I'm about to do..."

Season 5 of Lost (Episode 5.1: "Because You Left") premieres January 2009 on ABC.