Cleveland sports fans are no stranger to loss and the excuses that go with them.
The Brown’s performance against the Ravens Sunday is a good example and now their season is in real jeopardy after losing another heartbreaker.
And it’s another “wait until next year” for the Guardians who’s best of five games division loss took four games on the way to disappointment.
It is too early to talk Cavaliers, but..
There are always reasons why we can’t win it all no matter how close we get.
They go something like “It is a building year,” “this young team is something special,” “mid-market teams like the Guardians/Browns/Cavaliers can’t afford to buy talent like the Yankees/Patriots/Warriors.”
And the most feckless excuse of all. “The Guardians/Browns/Cavaliers have nothing to be ashamed, they gave their best and in return gave us some good baseball/football/ basketball along the way.”
Gag me! Stop with the feel-good exonerations!
There are no participation trophies in the bigs. Pardon the mixed metaphor but there will never be the cigar at the end of our rainbow.
Yes, I remember how the Cavaliers won it all in 2016 but that was all LeBron James making good on a promise so he could finally leave Cleveland once and for all. He did it too and with (most of) our blessing.
LeBron was and is too good to stay in a town that lacks the sex appeal of La La Land. It’s part of the Cleveland’s famous inferiority complex, an odd sort of birthright. We pride ourselves on not being a glamor city or anyone’s vacation destination.
Confession time: The above is the way we used to react to Cleveland’s professional sport teams. We’ve mellowed.
Clevelanders-of-a-certain-age have suffered through years of the kind of broken-hearted rejection found only in the lyrics of country songs. It’s not a giving up so much as an expectation that things will always go awry in the natural course of the universe and Cleveland teams place within it.
We’ve lived through enough fourth down fails, missed game-winning extra point, field goals and onside kicks and remember the horror of “Red Right 88” and “Metcalf up the middle” to last multiple lifetimes.
We have survived it all and in doing so have reached that level of grieving known as acceptance.
And so, we no longer dream of Cleveland locker room champagne celebrations or our teams’ coaches and owners holding the gigantic Super Bowl in the confetti-filled air or its “gleam” 1980s coach Marty Schottenheimer asked his players to visualize.
And yet there is this eternal springing of hope start of every new Guardians/Browns/Cavaliers season.
Take as example the words of sportswriter Chad Porto who – while prognosticating the Cavaliers fresh, new season – waxed devoted on his FanSided website this way:
“The Cleveland Cavaliers are done preparing and are ready to take on the 2022-2023 season in earnest. The Cavs are a team with a lot of hope and hype, coming off a major offseason. It was an offseason that was only matched and surpassed once, and that was in 2014 when LeBron James returned to the city.”
You gotta love a guy like that. And yet, he understands what it is to be a Cleveland sports fan. We know this because he pens his column under the logo “Factory of Sadness,” a term made famous by angry Browns fan referring to any home stadium or arena.
But I digress.
A young friend was discussing the Guardians recent season-ending loss and how after all the pre-season hype, the Browns were looking a lot like every losing Browns teams since rejoining the National Football League in 1999.
He called Cleveland sports as rewarding fans with “brief periods of euphoria followed by long periods of dysphoria.”
He could not believe there were still fans left willing to fill the seats in the stands of any Cleveland sports franchise. We explained it this way . . .
It is easy to love a winner but to love the Guardians/Browns/Cavaliers takes the devotion of parents of a troubled child. We will never give up on our kids, always advocate for them and never stop loving them.
Ms. Christian has written for Chagrin Valley-area newspapers since the 1960s. Email her with your thoughts, questions, or general observations about this, that, or the other at: email@example.com.