Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sportscenter--Cleveland Rocks Edition

This post is for my dad, who has always (not so) secretly dreamed of his eldest daughter being a sportscaster. I even have a degree in broadcast journalism. But, I didn't end up going that route with my career, and I think Dad's always been a little bummed about that. I think he gets a little wistful for what might have been every time he sees Bonnie Bernstein on a sideline somewhere. So, Dad, here's my little riff on what it means to be a Cleveland sports fan these days. It's as stressful as ever.

It's been another one of those years for those of us who cheer for teams from the Northcoast. We were thrilled beyond words when the Cavs made what can only be called an improbable run to the NBA Championship this spring. And, we were brought back down to earth by the ass-whupping the Spurs put on King James, Z and the gang once they got there. Of course, absolutely no one expected them to even get there, so it was really OK. That is, until LeBron decided to publicly spit in the faces of those who pay his ginormous salary and buy his merchandise by wearing his Yankees cap to the first Indians playoff game against New York in October. Even when a woman went to the stadium team shop and bought him an Indians cap to replace it with, he politely but steadfastly refused to wear it. The outcry against this traitorous act was monumental. It remains to be seen if he'll ever be forgiven. My guess is that if the Cavs once again do well this NBA season, all will be, at the very least, forgotten.

Then there are those lovable Wahoos, who gave us all quite a memorable summer of two-out hits, Cy Young-caliber pitching and big wins. We were sure someone upstairs was rooting for the Tribe when those crazy midges attacked Yankees relief pitcher Jaba Chamberlain while barely touching the brilliant Fausto Carmona. Once we dispatched the Bronx Bombers and moved onto Boston, gaining a split in Fenway and ultimately going up 3-1 in the series, the city was chomping at the bit to get back to the Fall Classic. And then, in the spirit of The Drive, The Fumble, and The Shot, a new chapter was added to the annals of Cleveland sports history: The Collapse. The Indians did exactly that as the Red Sox offense was suddenly unstoppable and our stellar pitchers could no longer throw strikes. Game 7 was even close...until third base coach Joel Skinner made the split-second decision not to send Kenny Lofton, the man with the most stolen bases in post-season history, home on a Casey Blake single. That was the nail in the coffin of the 2007 baseball season in Cleveland. The air taken completely out of the Indians' sails, The Collapse was complete, and the Fox network was thrilled, make no mistake. Rupert Murdoch himself was probably having palpatations over the paltry ratings a Cleveland/Colorado World Series would have garnered. Well, like they used to say in Boston, there's always next year!
So, now, miracle of miracles, the Browns are actually competitive in the NFL at 5-3. We suddenly have a quarterback who can throw worth a damn and some big-name, big-money receivers who are catching the ball! Alot! I would be lying if I told you I had any thoughts of the Cleveland Browns being anywhere near the caliber of the Patriots or the Colts in the AFC, but considering the depths they've plumbed of late, competitive is fine with me. Besides, the Detroit Lions are 6-2 as of this posting, and if there were to ever be a Lions/Browns Superbowl, we'd all be dead the next day, and no one wants that!

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