Everything is turning up Cleveland. Turn on any national network this morning and you're greeted with a bevy of "Hey, Cleveland isn't so bad" montages that take viewers from the West Side Market to the city's museum district. Having just watched a segment on "CBS in the Morning," I'm met with Dan Gilbert sharing some of his thoughts while the voice of teenage Marlana VanHoose singing the national anthem echos in the background. There has been video. Images. Testimony from folks who made the trip for the week, many of which give thoughts ranging from "I love it here" to "No, really—I love it here."
And alongside all of the packages are a host of stats that show the world that the whole burning river thing was, like, 100 years ago:
If you can get past all the "Make America Great Again" hats, the city of Cleveland looks like it never has before. The plaza between Quicken Loans Arena and Progressive Field is full of high-top tables and food and drink tents. The plaza between the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center was the home of roughly 1,200 folks on Sunday evening, serving as the opening ceremonies of sorts for the Republican National Convention.
I'll admit to not fully grasping how big of a deal holding the RNC truly was until the hustle really started to pick up about a week ago. Sure, The Q has been undergoing some massive renovation since the minute the NBA season ended—the team shop is now across from the casino with the what was the team shop now serving as one of the million-or-so reception spots. But, having little in the way of a reference point, I didn't understand how big of a deal this whole thing was. All you need to do is take one look downtown, and all of the mystery is removed. Every media company. Delegates. Dozens of speakers. Hundreds of parties. As cliche as it may sound, Cleveland is the center of the world.
And if all of this political stuff doesn't get you going, you'll want to keep an eye on The Ringer this week as they're going to be shoulder deep in all things Cleveland.
The first story is from Rob Harvilla, setting the stage for what's to come with a perfect lede—"Cleveland has never asked for much, and has received much less". The other story that is live is from the fantastically entertaining Jason Concepcion who digs deep on the split second that saved Cleveland and led to its first title in 52 years.
So if you have the patience to head downtown, I recommend doing it. Soak this all in. It's been one hell of a summer, and—assuming nothing horrific happens—this week is just the next chapter.
As an aside, seeing all of the people taking selfies in front of the LeBron James banner over the last few days only cements how much of a horrible PR move it would have been for Sherwin-Williams to replace it with some dumb marketing play.
Behind the scenes at WFNY, we've been having a ton of discussions lately surrounding two recently released albums: YG's "Still Brazy" and Schoolboy Q's "Blank Face." Both albums are from west coast artists. Both albums are so different, with YG's having that catchy, old school Death Row feel while Q is darker, more explosive. Both albums are fantastic.
Pitchfork recently added "Blank Face" to it's Best New Music section, giving the album a very solid 8.3 (Still Brazy was an 8.0). There are some quality anecdotes mixed with a discussion of the features and guests, but if there's one takeaway, it's this:
"[Q] returned to the trajectory that had him looking like the yin to Kendrick Lamar’s yang. Q’s unpredictable flow, as likely to morph into a bizarrely appealing sing-song melody as it is to shift to sneering double-time, has returned. With it comes a collection of catchy, urgent gangster rap songs that show the South Central native at his charismatic best, gallows humor and tough talk failing to obscure a humane core."
This summer has been a embarassment of riches when it comes to quality hip-hop albums, with work being put out from everyone from Chance, Kanye and Future to Rihanna and Beyonce. Every time I think I'm good for the rest of the summer, another album drops that makes it that much tougher to pick a favorite. With news that Danny Brown will be dropping something in the near future, it appears that the latest wave won't have much time to marinate, but man—these two Cali boys sure came with the thunder.
For a listen of the album's first single "That Part," we got you covered. (Language potentially NSFW.)
Just because Cleveland is the center of the world this week doesn't mean you should read terrible takes. Here's this week's #ActualSportswriting:
"Eric Griffin's NBA dream should not end like this" by Sam Gardner (FOX Sports) is a great story about a kid who was wrongly accused of a murder just as he was looking to make it big in the league. Some of you may remember Griffin from his cup of coffee with the Cavs' Summer League roster.
The great Jack McCallum penned a piece on Tim Duncan's ridiculously quiet retirement, "Tim Duncan retires without a whimper." There's bound to be a ton of rhetoric tossed about regarding Duncan and how athletes should retire, or should act on or off of the floor. It's also worth noting that Duncan is much more the exception than the rule when it comes to anything related to professional athletes.
"When Athletes Take Political Stands": I touched on this topic a bit last week, but this story from The Atlantic is a great look in to athletes taking a stand for their beliefs and team continuing to support them.
And finally, the great Tim Layden gives us a look at the man who blazes back into our sports purview once every four years, Usain Bolt, who will be partaking in his final Olympics as one of the games' flashiest (and fastest) sprinters.
Have a great Monday, you guys. Cleveland!