Friday, January 25, 2008

Recap: Greater Cleveland Sports Commission Awards Dinner

We at MTAC try not to be jock sniffers, but when we got the invite to attend the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission Awards Dinner, we jumped at the chance to attend. We were invited by a member of the committee, so we were in good. As I walked in for the cocktail hour, I headed towards the VIP area. A guy I knew started asking a man standing by himself where the VIP section was, and I recognized the man immediately; it was ESPN's Buster Olney. I said to Buster "you'll have to excuse my friend, he clearly doesn't know who he is speaking to." Buster loved it. We then proceeded to talk for 15 minutes.

What a great guy Buster is. He was there as a media member doing a ESPN the Magazine cover story on C.C. Sabathia, who will grace said cover on their Baseball Preview issue. We talked shop a little and he told me he loves the Tribe still and both he and Peter Gammons are picking the Indians to meet the Red Sox in the ALCS. He did say "how can you not pick the Red Sox to win the AL." I asked him about Cliff Lee and he said "The Indians don't want to give him away for 25 cents on the dollar, and that is all they are getting in offers right now." He actually asked me if the Cleveland fans were really upset by the Lebron Yankee hat situation. I told him that he didn't grown up here, so it is hard to understand the inferiority complex that lives within all Clevelanders. I told him I loved his work, shook his hand, and moved on.

I walked into the main area and was surrounded by luminaries. While talking to a friend who works for the Cavs, up walked Cavs TV Play by Play man Fred McLeod, who I have ripped in this space. I spoke to him for a good 10 minutes as well, talking about the city and the Detroit/Cleveland mix in the organization. He was an allright guy, but I got the feeling he knew I wasn't a fan of his work. I moved towards the banquet area and passed Browns left tackle Joe Thomas and his wife (who is very tall by the way), Former OSU star Ted Ginn Jr., Tribe manager Eric Wedge, Former Browns Doug Dieken and Don Cockroft, and Former Cavs Campy Russell and Bingo Smith.

I went to find where my table was and since the table I was sitting at was with the highest amount donated, we got the choice celeb and were seated right in front. I got to the table and saw Kellen Winslow and his wife sitting there. (FYI - Kellen's wife is SMOKIN. Very exotic looking). I was stunned. I sat two seats away from him during dinner. He was a very polite, quiet guy. Just before the awards portion of the evening stared, they disappeared. Sitting at the table behind us was Tribe GM Mark Shapiro and his hot wife. Another table over was former Cavaliers coach and NBA Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens. Cavs GM Danny Ferry was across the room. C.C. Sabathia and his wife were five feet from me, as was the emcee for the evening Bill Walton.

I ran into Cavs legendary radio man Joe Tait, who is a friend of my brother's. I introduced myself and he told me "your brother told me you'd be here." I told him what many have told him during his career, he is the best I've ever heard and proud that he represents our city. Tait was honored with the lifetime achievement award. He struggled to get up the stairs to the stage and walked gingerly with a cane. I also stopped by and talked to Shapiro. What a nice guy.

Back to Walton. If you never heard him speak at a function, somehow you have to. Yes, he was long-winded and talked in circles, using John Wooden's pyramid of success as a guide, but his stories were amazing. The way he spoke (no notes), I was truly impressed, and he was hysterical. The awards portion dragged a little, but the way Walton played off of the presenters (Shapiro, Ferry, Wilkens, Wedge, among them) was great. Sabathia won the professional athlete of the year award over Lebron James (a no-show) and Braylon Edwards. I was also told Beanie Wells won college athlete of the year, but since he couldn't make it, some chick from Cleveland who plays something or other at Wake Forest won. Walton did comment on how he loved her tyed-eye skirt.

The evening finished with a video tribute to the three teams and their magical 2007 seasons, followed by closing comments from Shapiro and Ferry. Overall, it was an amazing night to be a Cleveland sports fan. It was a great event.

Your college hoop and link recap will follow in a few hours

1 comment:

Customer said...

If you go on Kellen Winslow's MySpace Page there is a pretty sweet picture of him and his wife in his pics!