Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Cleveland sports teams give fans reason to be excited these days

By MARTHA TOWNS

Maybe it’s a good thing this city is so sports-crazy. It gives us something to think about besides all the very bad news from around the world.

We were at the Jake (Progressive Field) for Jim Thome night that was an event to warm the cockles of one’s heart. Forget the naysayers who said the statue should have honored someone else. The fact is that the Indians wanted a statue of Jim Thome and they got it. Our friend David Deming was the sculptor and he did a marvelous job of capturing the power in our former Indian, one of the ace homerun hitters in baseball history. Anyone who has been around Cleveland for long remembers back in the ’90s when Jim hit homer after homer and played on a team that many of us will never forget. The ’90s were the golden years for Cleveland baseball when the Indians and their new field attracted sell-out crowds night after night.

Jim Thome left the Indians for money — might as well get it out there. And many of us were disappointed to say the least, but I challenge anyone to say they would not have made the same decision. Money certainly isn’t everything, but sometimes it’s the only thing. So this humble guy from Peoria, took advantage of the opportunity to guarantee his family’s future. He was never again as great as he was in Cleveland. But he never lost his good nature and his humility

I think he was embarrassed by the whole thing but he took it well. The ceremony included accolades from Mike Hargrove and from Charlie Manuel, the two men who coached him. It was all very touching and when Jim spoke he said all the right words. It was a glorious summer night and the fans had a blast, literally, when after the game was won, there was a spectacular fireworks display.

And then there’s LeBron. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wake up every morning when your name is LeBron James and all around the world people know who you are? I was sad when he left and thought, as he realized too late, that he’d pulled a dumb stunt. And guess what? He got his rings and he woke up one morning and realized there was something better than a gaudy ring and he decided make a change.

Are we lucky that he is coming back to play basketball for Cleveland? Of course, we are. Even if we don’t win a championship right away, we’re going to see some glorious basketball again. I remember the first time I saw LeBron down at the Q. He just floated down the floor and dunked the ball. He plays beautiful basketball and I think he will make a huge difference.

If he uses his gifts wisely, and he shows every sign of doing so, he will make a difference in ways that don’t have much to do with the game, ways that especially involve children. He seems to have a strong sense of “giving back” and he certainly has the money and the influence to do pretty much anything he wants to.

And, for heaven’s sake, don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers or see on television about LeBron or anyone else for that matter. The media has become a voracious monster and will write or tell any story they can get their hands on whether or not it’s true. I loved the way LeBron announced his decision to “come home”. He scooped everyone.

My biggest complaint about professional athletics in this town is the cost of the tickets and the cost of the food. I have heard that the basketball season is already sold out and that, if you could possibly find a ticket somewhere, the cost would be prohibitive. And forget buying food. A small box of Cracker Jack for $4.50 is worse than highway robbery.

There’s big news on the football front, too, what with that kid from Texas coming to town and causing great mayhem among football fans of which I am not one. I have a hard time enjoying a sport which causes such long-lasting physical damage.

I plan to watch LeBron as often as I can from my comfy chair in the den. It’s a lot quieter here than it is downtown. In fact, the manufactured racket at basketball games is enough to keep a lot of people home.

When LeBron wakes up in the morning, I hope he feels good about his place in the scheme of things. Just knowing that he has the power to make people happy should help.

Just imagine what it’s going to be like when he walks back onto the floor of the Q.

We’ll be able to hear the racket from home.

In the meantime, go down for a baseball game. On a warm summer night there isn’t a better place to be than Progressive Field. Unless you maybe have a boat out on Lake Erie.

Don’t waste a minute of the summer that is left.

 

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