Sunday, June 10, 2007

A New Day is Dawning

In lieu of a Lazy Sunday (all the appropriate Sunday links can be found at the OSR here), how about an Extraordinary Sunday?

As the sun rises over another glorious morning in Cleveland, all is well.
The sun is shining over the North Coast, the ill effects of a night out are minimal, my 1st place Tribe pulled out an extra-innings affair in Cincinnati, my basketball team plays in Game 2 of the NBA Finals tonight, and it’s a beautiful day.

But wait, I’m still in Cleveland, right?
The town that received more backhanded compliments from the national media in the past week than any town has endured in a lifetime?

Every “glowing” article about the Cavs, or LeBron, in the past week has dwelled on the fact that Cleveland hasn’t won a Championship of any kind since 1964 (sorry, Crunch fans – pro soccer doesn’t count), how the city is in a freefall due to a loss of manufacturing jobs and a struggling economy, and how we’re so desperate for a winner that we’ll throw our collective weight behind a precocious 22-year-old from Akron, in the hopes that he will brighten our lowly existences?

Look, I get enough doom-and-gloom from my local newspaper (who hasn’t written a positive story about Cleveland, much less their sports teams, in about 8 years); I don’t need to get it from the “national perspective”.
However, reading all of these articles, which used to annoy and depress me to no end, I find myself unaffected.

Unable to be pulled down by the pessimism and cheap shots, I can’t help but wonder why.
I’m from Cleveland. I was born with an inferiority complex, fostered by years of rabidly cheering for sports teams only to have my heart broken repeatedly.

Yet, I am still unfazed.
What in the Wide, Wide World of Sports is going on here?

I’m reminded of the “Seinfeld” episode, in which Jerry lets his emotions out of Pandora’s Box. Sitting on the couch, rubbing his eyes after breaking up with a girl, he says, “What…what is this salty discharge.” As he sat there, incredulously wondering what this new feeling was (in his case – caring for someone), I feel I can relate.

I find myself wondering – what is this feeling, the one that makes my chest puff out and gives me the ability to brag about MY teams? The one that allows me to win arguments with friends from other cities regarding our sports teams with one single word, “scoreboard”? Why is it that I’m the one placing calls to out-of-town acquaintances to gloat and peer down the end of my nose at the “less fortunate” for once in my life? I’m on the offensive, not avoiding calls and ducking arguments.
What’s going on?

Is this Pride? Is this Confidence?

If so, what have you done with my old friends?
Where is Paranoia?
What have you done with Inferiority?
Where is Dread, or Embarrassment?
What have you done with them?

The simple answer is that Cleveland finally has something to be proud of – no some THINGS to be proud of:
The Cavs sit in the NBA Finals with the best player in the NBA, who happens to be 22 and a local product who seems, by all accounts, to understand the enormity of his talent and his current undertaking.

The Indians sit atop the best division in baseball thanks to a nucleus of young talent that rivals the one that captured our hearts in the 1990’s when we needed something to take our minds off of the Cavs’ ineptitude and the Browns’ relocation.

To a lesser degree, even the Browns seem to have finally taken the necessary steps to move away from the category of laughingstock and towards respectability.

Name me another time in Cleveland sports history that two Sports Illustrated covers have been committed to Cleveland athletes in a month’s time – with glowing, almost gushing articles about them in the pages of the magazine.
Throw in the fact that neither athlete is 25, and you cannot help but feel it.

A new day has dawned in Cleveland.
As the sun breaks out, take stock of where we are. While we have not yet reached the summit, it is within our sight. We stand at on an upper ridge of the mountain, completely unaware of how to handle the new view so far away from our usual position much further down.

For the day, shelve all of your complaints about a coach’s rotation, or the perceived thriftiness of ownership, or the inability of a certain Golden Domer to hit a WR in his first team practice.

The glass is already half full and the tap is still going. The Cleveland sports teams are trending upwards and they’re doing it together. This ascent is not automatic nor is it immediate. Growing pains and disappointment promise to litter the road. But, for once, the road represents an ascent, not a descent into the mediocrity and indifference, to which we’ve grown accustomed.

None of the Cleveland teams are taking that “one last chance” or trying to slip through the closing window, as we are seeing the Pistons and Yankees struggle to do. They’re all on the rise (to borrow from the Cavaliers’ playoff motto) and show no signs of taking a precipitous, unexpected tumble back to mediocrity.
It’s time to take the proper perspective and appreciate it.

We stand, collectively, at the precipice of an unprecedented run of success in Cleveland sports. The first chapter of a new book is being written in Cleveland sports as we speak. It is a time that we will look back on with fondness and great pride.

Enjoy it and remember that, no matter what happens from day to day in San Antonio or Cincinnati, or wherever, the big picture is getting clearer and it’s looking better every day here on the North Coast.

10 comments:

Baltimoran said...

jinx

Jason said...

I like your vision. Losing 2 out of 3 to the worst team in the NL makes it harder to take, but I like the fact that you're trying to help us keep the long view of it.

I don't know if the Cavs will have the chutzpah to pull it off or not. I do think that the Tribe will make the playoffs after it's all said and done. Either way, both teams have given us something to cheer for and we should be glad for that.

Milkey said...

Preach on, Brother.

Cy Slapnicka said...

don't stop believin

Pat Tabler said...

I knew this post would break out at least one "jinx" call.

Cy Slapnicka said...

Some good posts over at Deadspin...

-HR is back
-and ichiro made a hilarious comment about cleveland today. hopefully the entire mariners team plays with that attitude

NewHoosierDaddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NewHoosierDaddy said...

You are welcome. I have seen the unbridled optimism of the true Cleveland Sports Fan and decided I could hold you back no longer. I am the curse...I leave you unshackled my son, go forth and win championships. Go Tribe (that is in reference to the Indianapolis Indians).

Baltimoran said...

ESPN was saying 15,000 for a ticket tonight...seems a bit steep, even for what should be an incredible atmosphere.

glad the curse has left. i agree that we have 3 young and talented teams, i also think our GMs have managed to collect a good group of guys too. i originally disagreed with giving away b phillips and m. bradley, but its a lot easier to root for the home teams without selfish idiots on the roster

ichiro is a jerk...funny though

Cy Slapnicka said...

i actually like that he said that, gives him a bit of a personality. plus, after reading the PD today, i can't necessarily fault him.

if larry hughes plays tonight, mike brown deserves to be fired. i've been championing him sitting since he just sucked. now that he sucks AND is injured, continuing to play him would be like the Indians sending Jason Johnson to the hill with a dislocated shoulder.