Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The End of Futility?

All of you whiners who complain about your city's lack of sports success, I don't want to hear it. Portland? An NBA championship as recently as 1977. Seattle? Again, an NBA championship in 1979. Memphis? Yeah, okay the Grizzlies suck, but they're the only pro sports franchise in town, and they've only been in town for less than ten years.

None of you can hold a sorry candle to Cleveland, which has three pro franchises which have now gone a combined 142 seasons/years without a championship. That's 38 years for the neophyte Cavaliers, 44 years for the Browns (who also suffered the ignominy of being shipped off to Baltimore by former owner Art "Satan" Modell), and 60 years for the Indians.

Still, the die-hard fans hope against hope. The latest mirage is the Cavaliers, who have won 9 in a row, and are off to an 18 - 3 start in the current NBA season. It's not only that they're winning. It's how they're winning. They've won those last nine games by an average of 22 points, something unheard of in the NBA. And so the opressed blue-collar yokels, laid off from the Ford plant, naturally start talking foolishness. An NBA championship is on the way. The sustained futility will end in June.

Sure. I understand it. Keep hope alive, and all that. It's either that or resign yourself to unemployment and degradation in a town where it starts snowing in October, stops snowing in May, and where the main river catches fire periodically. But some of us know better. We remember the Game 7 World Series collapses by the Indians. We remember football games in the '80s, characterized by the epithets The Drive and The Fumble, wherein the Browns choked away two of their altogether too few chances at greatness.

And so we believe that the Cavaliers will find a way to lose, perhaps by blowing a 20-point fourth quarter lead in the deciding Game 7 against the Lakers. Wait and see. Still, we can enjoy the regular season before Lebron James ships off to New York, or L.A., or wherever it is that media-savvy superstars head to escape the snow and the burning river. We will still have Burning River Ale, truly one of the best ales on the planet (the carcinogens are the secret ingredient), of which the entire city will partake liberally after watching the Cavs lose that Game 7.

P.S. I don't live in Cleveland. I live in Columbus, a much more habitable city, where it only snows November through April. I'm still a huge fan of all the Cleveland teams.


Anonymous said...

You neglected to mention that the last NFL championship was before the Super Bowl was invented, so no Cleveland NFL team has ever been in the Super Bowl, let alone won it.

Are you sure it's only been 44 years...? You're right about the Indians--1948, which was in my lifetime, but not my memory, since I was 2 going on 3 when that Series took place. I do remember 1954, when they set a regular season won-loss record, only to lose 4 straight to the New York Giants and Willy Mays.

Andy Whitman said...

Bill, yep, the Browns won the NFL championship in 1964:

As the wikipedia article slyly but accurately notes, it was "the last major sports championship for a Cleveland team to date."

Natsthename said...

You know, living near Boston is exruciating at times. I grew up in Indiana and Ohio, and we were Reds and Browns fans, and we loved our Buckeyes. Our dad moved us to PA, where we were pariahs. Everyone in our new hometown made fun of us. Penn State fans hated The Buckeyes. It took some time, but I shifted into Celtics, Sox, Pats fanhood and was rewarded in the last few years. But, you know, what goes up must come down, and the slide down is painful, especially when the rest of the country resents you.
Still, I'd love to see the Ohio teams earn a championship at some point. It would be sweet.

Anonymous said...

Andy, your town won a championship this year: The Crew took the MLS Cup. As a fan of the Fire I was very disappointed my guys didn't get to play for all the marbles, but The Massive Banana (Not my nickname, that's what Columbus fans call them) was the best team all year long and deserved to take the trophy.

And then you promptly lost your coach and your best two defenders, so good luck defending that one next year.

On the positive side, The Crew retained the absolute best player in the league, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, for next year. They should keep scoring in droves.