Friday, February 04, 2005

Birthday bashed, "Meat," and the South Florida Blues

Miami -- It is rainy this morning here, appropriate to the quagmire the Cavaliers find themselves in.

Since I've last written -- and we'll get to all your fine responses a little later -- the Cavaliers have badly spun their wheels and fallen out of first place. I don't know about you, but the losses at Orlando and at Miami this week have really taught me something about this team.

I think they're a playoff team for sure, I think they have some quality pieces and a very bright future, but I don't think at this juncture that they're going to make much noise this season. I think there are just too many flaws still present.

Since winning a bunch of games over weak opponents to start the new year, they're below .500, having lost seven of their last 12 games.

Why? Because Jeff McInnis too often lets people drive right by him. Zydrunas Ilgauskas commits too many fouls. Eric Snow can't be counted on to make any jumper, especially with pressure. Drew Gooden still makes too many mental errors. Lucious Harris isn't consistent. Sasha Pavlovic doesn't play with confidence. Robert Traylor fights hard, but at 6-8 often get rebounded over because he's too short to be a backup center. For how great LeBron James is, he still allows too many baskets at the defensive end.

So there's the melancholy truth. There's a lot to like about this Cavaliers team and I expected them to be very fun to watch the rest of the season. Taking the long view, this time may be on it's way to greatness, in the short view, hey, they've got their issues.

Now, on to the fun stuff.

Thanks to Mary Schmitt Boyer and Jon Wile of the Plain Dealer, who conspired to embarrass me on my 27th birthday last week.

Um, as an aside here, I have made the argument that being 27 still constitutes being in my mid-20s. I mean 20, 21, 22, 23 is early 20s; 24, 25, 26, 27, is mid 20s; and 28 and 29 is late 20s. I see no problem that theory, thank you.

Their little plot involved Cavaliers mascot Moondog, who brought me a cake during the second quarter of the Cavaliers win over the Bucks Sunday. Just for good measure, he put a dopey birthday hat on my head and smeared icing all over my face. But it was a vast conspiracy as the incident was captured by Ch. 43 and put on the videoboard at Gund Arena as Michael Reghi and Joe Tait chided as well.

What can I say, I guess they kid because they care.

Now hear this: I know when all your birthdays are and I will get you back!

Finally, I feel compelled to tell you all about the experience I had yesterday afternoon here in Miami which myself and my compadres have simply been referring to as "Meat."

Acting on advice from Plain Dealer beat writer Branson Wright's wife, Lori, Mr. Wright, Bob Finnan (of Planes, Trains and Bob Finnan fame) and I went to this restaurant called Porcao.

There is no menu, just two choices: meat or salad. We were instructed to say "meat." What happened next is almost beyond explanation.

Instantly, a parade of servers came by the table with huge chucks of meat on spits and they sliced away. None of them speak English well, some not understanding the word "enough." They heaped the lamb, filet, top sirloin, duck, flank, strip, bacon-wrapped turkey, chicken, and chicken hearts by the pound.

They kept coming in waves along with curry, beans, rice, fries, potatoes, and fried bananas. I'd never seen such a feast, I felt like Henry VIII without all the alimony.

Not until you flip over a little card on your table that resembles a stop sign will they cease.

It has been nearly 24 hours and I haven't needed a meal...which is good because the price of the feast, well, it felt like it was for breakfast, lunch, dinner and breakfast again. At least that's how I'll explain it to the boss when I turn in the receipt.

That's all for now. I'm still gathering responses for my upcoming fan column, send them to

Take care,