Thursday, September 4, 2014

Vox in the Box: The 14 Most Memorable Moments of Summer 2014

We meet again, my friends, and thank you, thank you for pit-stopping my column in between your trip from Twitter to Vine. For nearly nine years, SamVox has been the soft porn of Cleveland Culture writers. And by now, in internet years, he's officially your 87-year old grandmother: no filter and no patience but far too vital to the family unit to be properly disowned. So you'll pity her, occasionally patronize her and then sell her on a plastic retirement community that plays more politics than a small-town high school. But you won't ignore her. Nope. Not after five out of six winning seasons and a well-documented net profit of over 35 dimes.  

Last year, I kicked off our NFL handicapping campaign by detailing my cruel summer of 2013. You may recall I lost my dog, my job, my pride, Tony Soprano, and the NBA Finals (cue the Ray Allen-step-back-travel-trey that saved the Heat's collusion legacy). This summer was the polar opposite--chock-full of jubilant jiffies that I'll share with you below in typical Top Ten fashion. Chronologically, I present the summer of my contentment:

May 20: Your Cleveland Cavaliers pull off a post-LeBron hat trick, winning the Draft Lottery for the third time in four seasons. The odds were so freaking unfathomable that Han Solo would have a better chance of successfully navigating 1000 asteroid fields without so much as a scratch on the Falcon. But the best part of the night was seeing LeBron's face upon hearing the news. It was like he saw a ghost or, better yet, a vision of his future self at the Q surrounded by a dope-ass Cavs roster. And for the first half of the Heat's ECF game against Indiana that evening, LBJ looked completely distracted. Bron's lack of focus should be forgiven, of course; he was already processing Cavalier trade possibilities in his head!

June 15: San Antonio's Spurs obliterate and eliminate Miami on Father's Day.  It was arguably the most perfect expression of Roundball since Dr. Naismith hung the damn peach basket. Adding to the excitement of the Heat's humiliation was LeBron's post-game presser. Only Clevelanders, who analyzed every word leading up to James' first free agency in 2010, realized that Bron Bron was speaking code for "Bye Bye Miami."

June 15: That same night, (GAME OF THRONES SEASON FOUR SPOILER ALERT!!) the enigmatic Jamie Lannister freed his brother Tyrion from the Casterly Rock prison and Tywin was murdered on a far-smellier throne. It was a shocking and satisfying close to GOT's most engaging season. Look, I can't remember being so worked up for a fictional television event as I was for The Trial by Combat. It was seemingly delayed for weeks, as anticipation skyrocketed, and it still managed to exceed my expectations. After The Mountain gouged The Red Viper, I fell into a living room coma. It hurt more than the murders of Adriana La Cerva and Hank Schrader combined! Before bed, I watched the duel on YouTube like sixty more times, from every angle. I felt an odd kind of happiness and relief knowing that I could still be affected by a TV show, post-Sopranos. Miss you Prince Oberyn, much love.

June 16: United States 2 Ghana 1...Clint Dempsey strikes so quickly, half the country wasn't even sure which team just scored.

June 21: After 40 days searching in the desert (OK, it was 39, but you see where I'm going), the Cavs pluck Maccabi Tel Aviv Coach David Blatt. Need someone to lead your organization to the Promised Land? By all means, hire a Jew! Why didn't we think of this 40 years ago before this whole title drought thing got out of hand? Mazel Tov, Mr. Gilbert.

July 1: Despite the loss to Belgium, USMNT GK Tim Howard becomes a national hero with a record-breaking 16 saves. Of course, Toffee fans enjoying Howard's heroics since 2006 know that nothing compares to Timmy scoring a goal from HIS OWN PENALTY BOX!!! 

July 1: Your Cleveland Indians turn a 7-2-4 triple play in a win over the Dodgers.

July 8: Cleveland is awarded the 2016 Republican National Convention. Polarization prevents progress, so it was a pleasure to see political rivals unite and help C-town win the bid. I've long called myself a Republican that votes Democrat, but it's about time we take our party back from the Palin Populists and the scripture-over-science folks. See you on East 9th. I'll be the 40-something dude wearing a Matthew Dellavedova jersey and Christie/Portman '16 buttons.

July 11: LeBron Comes Home. For three weeks, northeast Ohio compulsively refreshed Twitter...waiting for a Woj bomb, details about Dan's plane, or any secondhand information about Savannah registering Bronny and Bryce for school in Akron. Decision II became so drawn out, frustrating and flushed with both bullshit and legit rumors, it almost wasn't worth the wait. Except it was. Every waking second. I wasn't there to see it, but I heard Pat Riley ate shit in that Las Vegas hotel room, wondering how the hell the old Mistake by the Lake turned the tables on him.

August 2: At the horn, former Buckeye Aaron Pettrey's kick is good from 36 yards and your Cleveland Gladiators advance to the AFL Semi-finals (Two weeks later, the Glads were crushed in the Arena Bowl--preserving the legacy of the 1990s Cleveland Crunch).

August 8: I saw Richard Linklater's superb epic Boyhood at the Cedar Lee.  It was overwhelming to witness twelve years of natural aging in three hours. Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette would all like to thank the Academy in advance.

August 20: Mike "Our Most Fun is Going to Come When We're Beating Teams on Sunday" Pettine names Brian Hoyer as the Browns' Week One starter. It's not that I'm a hard-core Hoyer supporter, although his nine quarters last season may have been the best QB play in town since Bernie. And I'm hardly a Johnny Football hater. Is he immature? Sure, but that won't stop me from tattooing WRECK THIS  LEAGUE on my chest if he wins even one playoff game. Simply put, Quarterback Controversies destroy franchises, fan bases and my fondness for football. ESPN was becoming more unwatchable than normal. Uneducated CLE fan, drunk on hype, took over sports radio. And the team appeared fractured in preseason games. Then Pettine chose Hoyer and shit got quiet, real quick. Enjoy the silence, Browns fans, and respect the game.

August 25: I randomly caught the first ever WWE Hall of Fame Forum, featuring legends Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan in the ring together with Shawn Michaels. Since I've virtually ignored Pro Wrestling for three decades and missed Hollywood Hogan's feud with Flair in the mid-90s, this was fascinatingly unprecedented...especially considering I was reading Pro Wrestling Illustrated in the mid-80s when the notion of the WWF and WCW crossing streams at that level wouldn't happen in a wrestling writer's wettest dream. So what did I learn from all of Brock Lesnar's boring babbling on RAW? Nostalgia is nostalgia and I'll watch just about any reminder of my childhood.

August 29: Speaking of nostalgia, Tommy, Bobby and Jimmy of the Cobra Kai reunite to accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. In what can only be described as 59 seconds of pure awsomeness, Sensei Kreese and the legend John Lawrence mercilessly enter midway through the clip, proving that Kreese is the baddest 68-year old man on the planet and Bananarama still rocks.


Packers (+5) over Seattle, 1 Dime
Colts (+7.5) over Denver, 1 Dime
Cowboys (+5.5) over San Francisco, 1 Dime
Browns (+7) over Pittspuke, 1 Dime


Who is the Vox?

SamVox is not a professional handicapper, but a premier one. He has been gambling his entire adult life and has experienced every sickening turn and nasty twist of fate that occurs during a football season. What distinguishes the Vox is his amazing intuition, astoundingly long memory, attention to detail and preparation, aversion to propaganda and access to the industry's sharpest bettors. He is a two time Pick'Em champion and went 142-123-14 against the spread with his Vox Lox over six seasons for a net profit of over 35 units. His critically-dismissed Vox in the Box column also appears here at CST.