Josh here. It's August 1st and I'm still embarrassed about making a comment in the last newsletter about not knowing which hand Damien broke when he clearly told us IN THE NEWSLETTER. I'm currently sitting in a McDonald's parking lot waiting for my wife and oldest daughter so we can go to the Indians game. It's Ady's first game as a kid old enough to know what we're doing, so we're all very excited. Don't worry, I made sure to get seats behind the nets.
We'll email you every couple of weeks, whenever we have something to say, or maybe never again. You never know with us.
I'm Thinking Tribe
If you're a Cleveland Indians fan and reading this newsletter - which, let's be honest, is pretty likely - you already know about The Trade.
(The Trade. It's a capitalized thing. The Block. The Shot. The Trade.)
Trevor Bauer pitches very well, I will miss that. Franmil Reyes might be the best player in the trade and he's not even arbitration-eligible until 2022, I will enjoy this.
All that is important, but it's Yasiel Puig who makes this trade go. He's a rental. He's a crazy person. He's 250 pounds of rightfield might. Puig's antics (yes, antics. I know that's what some of you white people are going to call them) aren't perfect, but he's got the kind of crazy person energy that can fire up a clubhouse. I haven't been this excited to watch an Indians at-bat since Albert Belle was on the team.
World Series, Baby! Or at least a bench-clearing brawl in the ALDS.
Reading Pro WrestlingProfessional wrestling is weird. Somehow these companies filled with actors, athletes, and mostly people who excel at being both attract diehard fans by the arena load. Companies file bankruptcy, fold, start up, and all of them end up chasing what the WWE (nee WWF) has become. There was a time, two times actually, that I was one of those fans.
I went through a phase loving the Saturday showcases of the old WWF. I'm terrible at remembering my personal timeline, but I couldn't have been older than 12 at the time. I remember feeling bad for the jobbers even though I didn't know they were jobbers at the time. My immature, undeveloped self was pretty sure I spent an hour every Saturday watching dudes in boring Speedos get trotted out to lose to guys who had names I actually knew.
"Entering the ring at a towering six foot four inches tall and weighing in at a staggering 450 pounds, from the Rocky Mountains... BIIIIIIG VAAAAAN VAAAADEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRR!
and his challenger, standing five foot ten and weighing in at 192 pounds, from Salt Lick, Iowa...
Who do you think is going to win?
My early misgivings aside, I drifted back into wrestling in my early 20s. It was the WWE Attitude Era, and it was glorious. I was a white kid who just graduated from a white, suburban high school and I was obsessed with the fact that political correctness was ruining society. Steve Austin flipping people off and Degeneration X starting "Suck It" chants in sold-out arenas was a beacon of hope. Fuck these rules, let's go listen to The Rock make poontang jokes on basic cable.
Most of the time I spent living in that fan bubble was pointless, but I'm pretty grateful that I developed an appetite for what was behind the curtain. I like to think it's because I'm a deep thinker, but honestly, it was probably because that era of wrestler was more honest about the job. We knew they knew that we knew it was a show. We had arguments about whether wrestlers were athletes or actors or just sweaty weirdos rolling around with each other. The truth is that professional wrestlers are all three of those things, but getting to that answer opened my eyes to something much more profound.
These guys give everything they have to the industry. Their time, their families, their reputations, their bodies, their sobriety... Some of the brightest stars in the history of the sport burn themselves into nothing. The giants become a black hole, one that devours the sins of man, until they're nothing but a dark spot in the sky.
The latest example is this brilliant piece from Tim Graham of The Athletic. I strongly recommend reading about Lex Luger. His career touched almost everyone in the industry and completely ruined him. The transformation he went through to chase stardom, and the transformation he couldn't stop from happening once he became one, is astounding. The Athletic is behind a paywall, but I recommend doing a free trial or borrowing someone's credentials to give this a shot.
Megan Rapinoe Slack Chat
This is a slack chat between Josh and Damien about American soccer player Megan Rapinoe from July 11, 2019. It has been edited for clarity.
Damien Bowman: Objectively, can Rapinoe step over the line? And to be fair, before your words I had never heard of her
Josh Flagner: Yes. But I don't think she has. Not that I've seen anyway. I'm not in the news loop as much lately
Damien Bowman: Alright. And again, I know nothing about her, but not sure it’s a good look who (probably) is the face of women’s soccer to be dropping f-bombs on television or the whole thing with the flag when she’s representing the country. Don’t care that she’s having a war with Trump, but I think at some point she’s got realize she’s not on a MLS team, but is an ambassador for the country and a role model to young people (even if she doesn’t want to be).
Could be “old white” Damien coming out, but just random thoughts. And I would have probably said the same thing about the two guys who wore the gloves at the Olympics.
Josh Flagner: You can be patriotic and protest the flag. You can protest the country and still love it. You can protest the country because you love it. She's an ambassador because of those things, not in spite of them.
Especially in sport, where the shadows of Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, and newer names like Greg Popovich and LeBron James stretch across the road to justice and equality.
I'm not going to draw a direct line from Rapinoe to Ali, but there aren't many stops along the way. CAN she go too far? Yes. Has she? No.
Damien Bowman: I think it’s different when you’re representing the country on a world stage vs playing for a team in a league.
Josh Flagner: Sure, it's different. It's more important. It's harder to do. And the overwhelming sentiment was positive toward America's citizenry being brave enough to push back against backwards thinking establishment.Mark Naymik/Plain Dealer Slack Chat
This is a slack chat between Josh and Damien about then-Cleveland.com report Mark Naymik who has since moved to WKYC from July 12, 2019. It has been edited for clarity.
Damien Bowman: After conflict with Mayor Jackson, Black elected officials columnist Mark Naymik departs from the Plain Dealer's Cleveland.com to join WKYC Channel 3 News in Cleveland.....While Black elected officials are glad he is gone, his supporters say otherwise
Josh Flagner: I didn't know Naymik had this relationship with the black community. Is that blog usually legit?
Damien Bowman: I don’t know. Someone sent this to me. I don’t really get into the black/white thing but it’s hard to imagine someone in his position not pissing someone off.
Josh Flagner: Well, I’m SURE he pissed people off. The concern I have is that I’ve been basing my opinion of him on the fact that he pisses everyone off, and I don't want to be all juiced about a guy who is using racial bias in his investigative reporting. explicit or otherwise.
Damien Bowman: Well, I’ll say I wouldn’t say the paper is Republican leaning. And to Naymik, there’s plenty of corruption in the suburbs he’s never touched. Parma, Brecksville, and I’m guessing he didn’t touch Merle Gordon in Beachwood. The continuing nonsense with Strongsville school board is unreal and I’m sure you can attest to the clusterfuck that was Medina’s Superintendent a few years ago. Naymik touch on any of that?
But, he’s 100% right about Jackson needing to go, Johnson being a thief. I think he got Angela Stokes wrong. Plenty of other municipal judges could use a closer look than her.
Josh Flagner: I guess I always thought of that as focusing on Cleveland over the burbs as an urban bias, but you're right that there's plenty of other shit going on in his sphere of influence that he never touched. It's an interesting slant.
I still don't think the Medina superintendent thing was such a huge deal. The school board messed up, but it feels like their motivation was to keep a talented guy happy and they got lazy pushing things through they shouldn't have. tons of people got mad about it, and I that's fair given the tax rate down here, but it really didn't feel criminal to me.
I would've pushed all the same buttons Stepp did. I just wouldn't expect them all to work.
Damien Bowman: No, not criminal at all, and I agree with you, but the way the board handled it was wrong. Can you imagine if that was Cleveland? That’s my point, he lives in southwest Cuyahoga County and doesn’t even touch on anything that happens there.
Josh Flagner: He gets all the accolades because his biggest fans are also people focused on Cleveland and they don’t necessarily see what's going on other places. This is something I’ll be thinking about for a while.
Damien Bowman: And the last point for now about Naymik...he should give credit to Jackson and Cal Williams and whomever else solved the dirt bike problem. I know summer sort of just started but the problem has mostly gone away. The police could do more in the city, but acknowledging they solved a big nuisance would go a long way in getting minority leaders to trust him a little bit.
We see plenty in the paper about the crime in the inner city, but almost none about the good people doing good things there. There is a lot, and I know it probably doesn’t drive the clicks of a quadruple homicide but throw those people a bone every now and then. Their series they did with Blaine whatever mortgage guy in Slavic Village was really good and all they got was a bunch of sarcasm about it.
Josh Flagner: I can't imagine anyone in print media giving Jackson credit.
Damien Bowman: He’s wrong 70% of the time, but someone’s gotta recognize that 30%.Despite all the bad in Cleveland Police Department the department is MUCH better than it was five years ago. Same with fire. Those firefighters hate their chief but that department is leaps and bounds better now that there’s no yes man in there.
Josh Flagner: how do you write that about CPD? public perception is so biased against the department that it seems like writing positive would be fluff spin. does a weekly scales of justice column get that done? where you can report what people expect AND report good things?
Damien Bowman: It would be fluff spin, but it’s ok as long as they aren’t doing it every day. There has to be a couple hundred people in that department that are actually saving lives once a month, even if they write about giving someone a ride home instead of a DUI or how they saved one kid from a gang. It’s better than everything else that they write about.
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