As the self-annointed No. 1 Cleveland-phile living outside of Northeast Ohio, I do my part by splurging on my hometown-brewed beers exported to Northern Virginia.
Maybe it was karma, harmonic convergence – or the $9.49 sale price – but I Erie-ly found myself one month ago staring at a Safeway display of Great Lakes Brewing Company‘s Commodore Perry “Don’t Give Up the Ship” IPA when my cell phone beeped about Kevin Love‘s season-ending injury. “The Shoulder” was piling onto the wreckage of The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, The Move, The Decision, ad nauseum.
No way the short-handed Love-less Cleveland Cavaliers, without suspended knucklehead J.R. Smith for the first two games, could beat the full-strength Chicago Bulls, let alone whatever lay ahead. But each six pack on that end-cap display was beer whispering to me … “Don’t Give Up the Ship” … and that worked out pretty good for Northeast Ohio in 1812, way before our 51-year long title drought.
No matter if the Cavs lose or beat Golden State in five for the NBA title, it was a tasty, filling May.
Doing the math, three more series x four wins = 12 beers, so I gently placed two hopefully blessed six packs in my shopping cart.
I cracked open the first bottle after the Cavs tied the Bulls series at 1-1, but when Derrick Rose sunk that blind Game 3 buzzer-beater, the Cleveland DT’s screamed: all those full bottles in the garage fridge would probably expire before the Cleveland Browns won 11 more games over the next two seasons.
But while fixing dinner for our two sons and my wife, who’s shared my Cleveland pain for the last 33 of those 51 years, LeBron James saved us from “The Timeout” by hitting the Mother’s Day Miracle. (BTW where was our coach’s yiddishe kop* with that math?) Nothing beats celebrating a C’town win with your whole family – plenty of drinks all around, but still only a single Commodore Perry from the lucky stash.
IPA’s No. 3 and No. 4 tasted swell while flipping between TNT and NBA TV watching all-night reruns of the post-game analysis and press conferences: David Blatt, LeBron, Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova!
Finished the first six-pack after the Cavs’ two wins in Atlanta, but gently replaced each empty bottle back in its original slot so as not to mess with the natural order. I christened the second six-pack with the overtime Game 3 thriller, and didn’t even pop the top on another beer until the Game 4 confetti fell at the Q. But watching Joe Harris and Kendrick Perkins dribble out a 30-point Game 4 lead brought back nightmares of the Indians’ 1997 clubhouse with all that unpopped champagne.
Now, no matter if the Cavs lose or beat Golden State in five for the NBA title, it was a tasty, filling May – and I can still enjoy a bottle of well-past-its-expiration-date beer for each one of the Browns likely four wins this fall. Typical Cleveland.
But Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, “The Hero of Lake Erie,” not only didn’t give up the ship, he also boasted “We have met the enemy and he is ours.”
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Who, you ask, has been our enemy these 51 years? Sports Illustrated noted this Cavs team has avenged vendettas against Boston, Chicago and Miami this year (and we stole Timofey Mozgov from Denver). Now there is only Red Right 88 against the Oakland-based Warriors left to settle all family scores, Godfather-style (plenty of options – bed, barber chair, revolving door, courthouse steps). Maybe the real enemy has been our own Cuyahoga-brewed paranoid fear that the worst will happen because, well, it kinda’ always has.
But why get on the wagon now? We’re on a pretty good bender, the hangover can wait. So please Mr. Bartender, yes, I’ll have another round, just four wins and four beers from that six pack to go.
*A Yiddishe kop, or “Jewish head,” is an observation expressed in the presence of a person who has just come out with an angle on the topic under discussion that is so audaciously unexpectedly logical in such an unconventional way that only a Jew, with 4,000 years of the Jewish experience in his genes, could have thought to look at the subject that way … whether brilliant or hopeless.