Sunday, September 11, 2011


No. Not that one.

That's the one.

I have a few loves in my life. My family, my girlfriend, my friends, and my city. If you have been reading this blog up to this point you probably got the big picture about the emerging food scene set in a city that is rediscovering itself as a modern metropolis. It offers so much and asks only that you speak well of it when you leave. It's a place that I recommend you visit ASAP. And for those of you who have just moved or are planning to move here let me be among the first to welcome you. You have made an excellent decision in choosing this city as a home for you and your family for years to come. However, there may be something that was not on the brochure that we need to talk about. We kinda suck.

Two days after Christmas in 1964 the Cleveland Browns took the field against the Baltimore Colts and proceeded to beat the Christmas cheer right out of them 27 - 0. This was a game that Jim Brown (arguably the best running back ever) was held to only 114 yards rushing and no touchdowns. But it didn't matter fate was on our side and on that cold day in December The City of Cleveland had its champion. I can only imagine the parade that was held in the days after and the euphoric feeling of accomplishment that comes with it. I say that I can only imagine it because since that date in 1964 no Cleveland sports team has won a major championship. For those of you keeping score at home, it is 47 years since the Indians, Browns, or Cavaliers have won "the big game." Which means that anyone who was born on December 28th 1964 or later has no knowledge of such excitement. And unfortunately that would include myself.

Now were we just to lose in a cloud of mediocrity it would be one thing but we don't. We lose in SPECTACULAR fashion! For you reading pleasure I give you the following links (unless you're a native Clevelander in which case go ahead and skip this): The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, The Modell, Jose Mesa, and The Decision. And those are just the REALLY famous ones. There is also 1999 Red Sox, The 2003 Wild Card game against the Steelers, or the 2007 Red Sox (AGAIN!). We just haven't come up with creative names for those yet.

I could spend the rest of this article writing about how Art Modell is a ass or how LeBron is a traitor (I am trying to keep this clean but the words fuckbag or asshat kept popping into my head for some reason.) but you can probably get that from anyone in this city. Honestly, if you walked up to anyone in this city and mentioned any of the topics mentioned in the previous paragraph you would either get unbelievably sad eyes staring back at you, or punched in the face (often depending on the event and the amount of alcohol the fan has consumed). So it would be almost pointless to go over everything, and quite frankly I am not too keen on killing myself tonight so let's move on.

This brings us to today's question... "Why are you a Cleveland sports fan?" Well that's an easy and yet very hard question to answer. I guess the easy answer is this: I am from Cleveland; therefore I am. Simple, right? If you lived in Philadelphia, or Boston, or Miami(OK maybe not Miami, their fans could care less, but you get the point), you would say the exact same thing. "I am from X (where X= the city of your choice); therefore I am. So, yes it is quite simple. Except it's not. If you ask anyone from those cities they also would have heartbreaking tales of woe to tell you (except Miami who really can't be bothered by anything but the beach). Difference is all of those cities have had major championships in their last 10 years. While in Cleveland we have not seen a winner since 1964. So the answer gets really hard and I am afraid a little dark.

I remember two consecutive years in the 1980's the look of absolute pain on my father's face as somehow our Browns blew another chance to go to the Super Bowl. I remember the look of confusion and anger on the faces of my high school classmates as news traveled that Art Modell was moving the team at the end of the year to Baltimore. I remember yelling so loudly outside my dorm in 1997 as Craig Counsell rounded 3rd that I scared myself. And I remember the look of absolute astonishment on the faces of everyone at the bar at Whiskey Island as LeBron announced where he was taking his talents, followed by some random guy yelling "turn that shit off." This is why it is hard to be a Cleveland Sports Fan. Not so much the memories of the game or action itself but the images that stick with you until the end of your days.

So why do it? At the end (and sometimes the middle) of every season I ask myself the same question. Sometimes I will just smile and laugh it off saying things like "it's only a game" or "maybe next year" and sometimes I find myself a quiet corner and question my existence (depends on the year). But come April of every year I find myself watching the first pitch of a Indians game wondering if this might be our year. In September I have already decided that the Browns made enough moves and got enough young talent to surprise everyone and become the champions they can be. In late October I convince myself that the Cavs might sneak into the playoffs and then "who knows what might happen?"

Now I am a realist and I can assure you that these thoughts are fleeting at best but for those brief moments in time I can still wonder "what if? (©2011 Cleveland Indians)" and it sucks me in one more time. I believe Einstein once called insanity the act of doing something over and over again expecting different results. So by that logic I must be absolutely mad.

As I write this today the Cleveland Indians have successfully blown a remarkable season in which we were in first place for almost half the year. The Cleveland Browns managed to start off their season by blowing a 4th quarter lead The Cincinnati Bengals, a team every sports writer thought to be REALLY bad. The Cleveland Cavaliers are currently locked out with no immediate solution coming anytime soon. By all accounts a pretty average year for the life of a Cleveland sports fan. So why do I still check the scores and the schedules on a daily basis? Why do I still shell out the cash to sit in the stands and drink crappy beer? Why do I have one of the tabs open in my internet browser to the Cleveland Browns team shop looking at a new jersey? Because I am from Cleveland and therefore I am?

I love this town and its people. I love its recent innovations and who we might become because of it. I believe that this town could be a great example of urban renewal and a cultural beacon for the country. But right now it's still growing and it can be hard out there sometimes. Come February I will want to be about as far as I can get from the bitter cold and not come back until late April. In the middle of July even your sweat is sweating due to the 1,000% humidity levels. Our economy is climbing but it is a slow process that can stall from time to time. To live in this city you got to be tough because it's not always easy.

So as a city we turn our attention to our teams and we love them. We loved when Bernie Kosar would march the Browns down the field for another touchdown. We loved when Jim Thome crushed a homer to deep center. We loved when LeBron launched a game winning 3 from "waaaaay downtown". But most of all we loved them because without them this city might not be where it is today. The Cleveland Indians of the 90's are the reason we have a gateway district, the Browns are the reason we have a W. 6th, and as much as I hate to say it LeBron is the reason we have an E. 4th. Our culture is so much more than our sports but it is nothing without it.

So I will continue to go to games, and check the box scores for my beloved teams. After all perhaps this is "the year."


  1. I'm with you, but I am not sure I can manage another season of Browns mediocrity. Andy Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski were better than the Browns... C'mon... Goose, I need a beer to put out these flames...

  2. One game does not make a season. That said we might be leaning towards the sucky side of life. Grab me a beer while your up.