Cumberland Times-News

Mike Burke - Sports

June 20, 2012

Blue skies, sunshine, white sand by the mile?

As you read this, or attempt to, my friends and I will either be on a plane taking our talents to South Beach, or will have landed and currently be in the midst of displaying our talents on South Beach. Who knows? Maybe there’s a beached whale contest we can enter. And maybe there won’t be a “tropical depression” after all, as Jan Alderton took great pains to offer on Wednesday.

The annual baseball trip, during which twentysomething misfits play Ugly Americans in cities around the country for the express purpose of seeing big league baseball games in different ballparks, is under way. As always, Scott Bauer has taken care of all the arrangements, and as I’ve said here before, even though Scott says he’s not in charge, he’s in charge. If he weren’t, the baseball trip every summer would be to Cavanaugh Field. Instead he’s agreed to be seen in public with our group in places such as Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, Phoenix, Denver, San Francisco and San Diego.

This weekend it’s Miami, presumably to see the Miami Marlins host the Toronto Blue Jays in brand new Marlins Park, which, from the outside looks like the spaceship Richard Dreyfuss boarded in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” but, once inside, is said to be even funkier. But, hey, it is Miami.

Now the good news is Aaron Laffey will be in Miami as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, and we would love nothing more than to see him pitch. The bad news is — and for some of us, this is really bad news — LeBron James and Dwayne Wade are currently in Miami as well as members of the Miami Heat, who can wrap up the NBA championship tonight with a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Our friend Stew, who will be making the trip, who was born in Cleveland and is everything Cleveland and Ohio through and through, said Wednesday afternoon, in what I deemed to be more of a defiant, hopeful tone, that he didn’t think so.

“Miami’s not winning Game 4,” he said, “and they’re not winning the series.”

Miami won Game 4.

“I didn’t think about that,” said another member of our traveling party, Duane. “We might be there to see the parade.”

To which Dennys, another member of our party said, “They don’t call them parades. They call them (place the adjective of your choice here) riots.”

Aside from not wanting to see the Heat win the NBA championship under any circumstance, I would really prefer the Thunder at least hold them off until Game 7, which would be played Tuesday and at which time I will be safe and well at home here in riot-free Cumberland. Besides, the intruding sounds of a world championship celebration in the streets of Miami could interfere with my beauty sleep. How dare those people be happy on my nickel.

Having said that, this year’s NBA playoffs have been as good as any I can remember, and though the Heat are up 3-1, every game in the Finals has gone down to the wire. Having said that, without knowing what’s going to happen tonight or in any possible remaining game, it’s time to give LeBron James his due, for up to this point this has been the LeBron James that’s been advertised from the very first day he was foisted on us as the high school prodigy known as The Chosen One.

There is nothing about James I choose to find endearing. Rather, he has been something to endure because, from the beginning, he’s been presented as and has acted as an oversized Saturday morning cartoon character. But brother, he’s been playing some basketball the past couple of months, with his performance in Game 6 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics right up there with anything I’ve seen.

As for Mr. D. Wade, something has happened along the way with him. Once a player I really enjoyed watching and, for the most part, pulling for, it hasn’t been a lot of fun watching him of late as it appears he has developed somewhat of a bitter edge. Granted, he’s been playing hurt, but the permanent scowl he wears on his face makes him even less endearing than James. Perhaps he’s worried he’s lost the grip on the team, that it’s now LeBron’s team and not D. Wade’s. Who knows?

All I know is, while I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity to be able to experience Miami this weekend, I can do without a parade. Or whatever it is they call them now.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at mburke@times-news.com

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Mike Burke - Sports
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