Because competitive eating is a sport, and because Fish, the proprietor of Melt, has one of the best collections of nostalgic and vintage Cleveland sports signage around town, I think it's only appropriate to include this dispatch from Scene salesman Adam Toporowski in this space.
GURGLE, GURGLE GURGLE. The cheese begins to bubble in my stomach as I struggle to chew. Another sip of water. GURGLE GURGLE GURGLE. I can’t go on any longer. More water. Where's the water?!
To most people, eating is a way to sustain existence. At Melt it’s a challenge, and that's just to finish one of the regular sandwiches. Then there's the "Melt Challenge," a feat not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. With 13 types of cheese, 3 pieces of garlic toast, fries and coleslaw, this behemoth weighs in at close to 5 pounds. It's the blistering blitzkreig of carbs and bubbly cheese that Man vs. Food's Adam Richman tackled while he masochistically ate his way through Cleveland on a recent visit. (The Melt episode will air in June.)
The rules are simple: Finish it all without any help or trips to the bathroom.
A brief foreword: I enjoy eating, obviously. And I may enjoy eating more than the regular Joe, because the regular Joe doesn't get too excited about the idea of consuming a chunk of food that, in a pinch, could be subsistuted for a dumbbell. They may tell themselves they could do it, but then logic steps in (or the girlfirend, or the wife) and smarter heads prevail. Not me. Whether it was hubris, ego, machismo, or watching too much Adam Richman, I pointed my finger at the menu and brazenly told the waitress to bring on the challenge.
And that's about when the fun ended. What followed was not an enjoyable experience. Forcing yourself to go on even though you know that you can’t is something that drives elite athletes. Apparently, I don’t have that. On the other hand, my buddy Andrew Ratcliff did have the necessary gastro fortitude — the marathon runner and cancer survivor got the best of this monstrosity of a meal.
The key to besting this challenge, as with any other, is strategy. I chose to eat the fries and slaw first and then the sandwich. The strategy he took was to eat the cheese first and then move on to the bread, fries, and slaw. Half way through the sandwich I was done. An hour and a half later so was Andrew, but he had defeated the sandwich.
This is not a race to see who can finish first. It is a quantitative endeavor. I was confident I could do this but once again my eyes were bigger than my stomach. Perhaps if I had planned better and not eaten three hours earlier then I quite possibly could have accomplished this ridiculous feat.
I have never felt so full in my entire life. Eating so much that the food actually wants to come back up — nay, is demanding to come back up — is not something that I would like to repeat any time soon, but having witnessed a friend taste the thrill of victory I know that I must not give up on the dream. — Adam Toporowski
Jeremy Hills works in sales here at Scene. He also loves baseball. More than that, he loves jerseys. Here's a little tale he has to tell...
Anyone who has a thing for throwback baseball jerseys probably knows what I've gone through over the years. They are either too expensive or just not available on the open market. Sure you can buy a replica from M & N for $250, or possibly luck out on eBay. However, what you find on eBay is a lot of counterfeits from China and leftover 3xl's from the hip-hop community. I had begun to give up in my quest for a 1975 blue Cleveland Indians home jersey when, by chance, I was looking at an 80's Milwaukee Brewers jersey on eBay and noticed that the seller had mentioned that he makes his own jerseys. Yes, I met a man online and he changed my life. His name is Frosty and he made my dream come true.
I provided Frosty a blank blue v-neck jersey with the same brand as they had in 1975, and a Chief Wahoo arm patch that I found on eBay. It was up to Frosty to create the crest and put the pieces together. The end result, magical!
Check out the rest of this maniac's stylings over at InLeBronWeTrust.com. It's just one of the 23 different things he plans to do over the next month to show how badly he wants LeBron to stay in Cleveland. Also on the list: Watch a 23-hour marathon of Kazaam, shave LeBron's face into his hair, get hypnotized to believe he's LeBron, and much, much more. All crazy, let me assure you.
Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.
Of course. Leave it to I Love the Hype to come up with the best Z tee. Personally, I loved bearded Z the best.
The Cavs' analytics guy is Dan Rosenbaum, an economics professor from UNC Greensboro. You won't read much about Rosenbaum, both because the Cavs don't really elaborate on their use of advanced analytics and because Dan doesn't do interviews — not for background, not on basketball, not on what he likes to eat for breakfast. I've tried to arrange a Q&A with him before, dying to know if he's a sausage patty or link guy, though I thought I'd also try to throw in a question about adjusted plus/minus in the middle of talking about waffles vs. pancakes, but to no avail.
What little we know about Rosenbaum's role within the front office comes in little snippets here and there, like this tidbit from Brian Windhorst last year:
The Cavs do not like to talk about it but they are right there, too. Their stat guru - an economics professor named Dan Rosenbaum who wrote a blog that Cavs GM Danny Ferry became a fan of when he was in the San Antonio Spurs' front office - advises them on an array of moves.
Yet, Rosenbaum is not listed in the media guide even though you can find the scoreboard animator's name or the person in charge of mail-order merchandise in there.
The team's three-year quest to acquire Delonte West was based partially on the numbers Rosenbaum's computer spit out. When they started trying to trade for him, West was a member of the Celtics. He was there in part because Morey, who worked for the Celtics before moving to Houston, had a computer tell him the same thing about the tough-nosed guard from St. Joseph's.
According to interviews with every team, The Wall Street Journal found that half the league's teams this season have at least one of these statisticians who helps make in-game, draft-day and trade-deadline decisions. Many of these teams are among the NBA's best. The list accounts for all six division leaders, including the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks, who have a data analyst traveling with the team. These 15 teams that have invested heavily in statistics have combined to win 59.3% of their games this season. The 15 teams without such analysts have won 40.7% of their games, and only three — the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks — are on pace to make the postseason.
I do think about Rosenbaum from time to time like when the Cavs sign Anderson Varejao to a contract that seems like too much, only until you figure they just know a lot more than you do, or when Andy has a great game and Danny Ferry quotes Dan Gilbert quoting Albert Einstein: "Everything that counts can't be counted."
On an otherwise uneventful afternoon while we all wait for the Cavs to finally get back to the action, there are a few things I wanted to clarify regarding this piece.
A couple people have said it's crazy to think that LeBron wouldn't make more in New York than he does in Cleveland. The gist of this argument is that there's more business opportunities in the NYC and each one of those opportunities would carry a bigger check than a similar one would for LeBron Version 330.
First, y'all know that LeBron has a regular full-time job, right? He plays professional basketball, which takes up, oh, I don't know, a whole lot of freaking time. When he's not doing that, he's also been on Team USA, meaning, more weeks and months away for practice and games.
When do you think he has time to take on 17 new business ventures? Sure, LRMR handles a lot of stuff for The King, but a whole lot of stuff also depends on LeBron showing up for photoshoots, or commercials, etc.
He tends to focus on one big thing at time. Last summer, it was the tour for the LeBron VII and More Than a Game. This summer, he's filming a movie. There's only so many days in the year, folks.
Second, LeBron and his people are highly selective in who they choose to work with. Sure, LeBron living in Akron might get 110 business proposals in a year and LeBron living in New York might get 575 business proposals, but LeBron's only going to say yes to the same people. Yes, there would be more people beating down LRMR's door to get a piece of James in New York, but that really means nothing, especially since LeBron and his team have turned down plenty of otherwise attractive offers in the past. See, if you're not McDonalds or Coke or Nike, then...
Maverick says, "Absolutely. If it's not AUTHENTIC to LeBron, then definitely not. We don't do sponsorships. See, sponsorship is" — he points to the State Farm logo on one of the bike-a-thon banners — "State Farm pays, then they get to put their names on it. Partnership is: State Farm pays to put their name on it, but they also bring something to the table. Instead of just money."
It's charming to be in control.
"The biggest deal we've said no to," Maverick says, scratching his chin and considering the options, "was $2.5 million a year. Now that's per year. Four years. Per year. It wasn't necessarily that the brand wasn't right. It just wasn't the right time for LeBron to do it."
It's charming to say fuck you to $10 million.
"It's mostly my responsibility," Maverick continues. "LeBron focuses on being the best basketball player in the world. I do most of the negotiations. He's gonna help, but it's not like he's involved in negotiation. That's why it's important to establish the team. He does come in on top-line meetings. But he's not going back and forth on e-mails. He's involved from a top-line perspective."
This right before the author summarizes a meeting held annually in Akron with LRMR and top level executives from all of the companies that work with LeBron — Nike, State Farm, Coke — all congregating in a Hilton in Akron to do business with James.
Well, and Jamario too, but LeBron's getting the credit.
Bob Finnan explored the ever-spreading fad of the "goosey" last week, the origins, evolution, and meaning of the Cavs' three-pointer celebration.
The Washington Huskies are one of the teams to adopt the gesture, and they're not settling for just the goose. They've lined up an array of handshakes for pre-game introductions, just like LeBron, and are even throwing out his salute to one another and the crowd after threes.
Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.