Cleveland Sports, the Golden Age of Despair
It is utterly hopeless to be a Cleveland sports fan. Even so, this may be a real Golden Age of Despair. It’s hard to think of a time in most people’s lifetime that was as bad as this. You can maybe argue for 1991 when the Indians went 57-105, the Browns went 6-10 and Cavs went 33-49. However, I think you can argue that even in 1991 people had a recent memory of when the teams were good. In 1991 you expected the Browns to turn it around, and the Cavs had been really good just a few years back. There wasn’t a Death Cloud of Misery that floated over all the franchises like you have right now. So, who has the best chances of turning it around? As in “turning it around, ever”?
The Indians are going to suck forever. Let’s say you are 15 years old and never had attended a major league baseball game. By some horrible twist of fate, you decide to root for the Indians after deciding that the Royals and Pirates just aren’t your speed. Now let’s say that same 15 year old went out and knocked up some girl at the freshman dance. They decide to have the child, with him continuing to root for the Indians and she starring in a teen pregnancy cable reality show that shows how stupid this boy is while also accenting his horrible taste in music and fashion. They build a life together when 15 years later their offspring also knocks up a freshman at his first high school dance. While this may seem like a bad situation, you need to look at the positive. If things remain unchanged in Indians ownership, I think we can confidently say that three generations of this family will get to go out and watch horrible baseball together. They will never see a championship. They may all go out and get to see the Insane Clown Posse together, but they will never see a championship baseball team.
The Indians have four legitimate everyday players that they can write in for 2013 in Kipnis, Cabrera, Santana, and Brantley. They have three good relievers, and they are going to have to trade the closer because he has been busy all year stating the obvious to the press. They have zero (0) reliable starting pitchers. This is going to be a problem assembling a professional baseball team with a budget of $734 and Papa John’s coupons. It’s especially bad because they also do not appear to have any players in the minors that can make an impact in the majors anytime soon. Perhaps they can trade Shin-Soo Choo for five starters, two corner infielders and two corner outfielders, but since the Expos aren’t going out of business this year, that seems unlikely. Indians 2013 prospects? Grim.
The Browns are lucky to play in a league that does everything it can to create parity. They are unlucky in that all the people they have had make decisions appear to be complete buffoons. I know a lot of people that have gone to work for the Cleveland Browns in back office positions from 1999-2010. Every single one of them went from “Fucking A! I work for the Browns in the NFL!” to “Oh my God! This place is so fucked up I need to get a job anywhere else! Is it too late to become a rodeo clown?” in usually three weeks. When you ask them about their experience with the team, most of them would get quiet and look down at the ground like if you asked a Vietnam Vet about “The Shit”.
Assuming that new ownership has somehow discovered Mike Holmgren has basically stolen his salary from the team, Pat Shurmur runs an offense similar to my 8th Grade football team, and they don’t have more than ten good players, change will be afoot. Of course, the deck has been shuffled in Berea a number of times with horrible results every single time. The team has two #1 picks on an offensive line that can’t open running holes for anyone. The only guy that can cover anyone in the defensive backfield parties like Rick James, but isn’t smart enough to avoid drug tests like Rick James. Shit, you know Rick James would have stayed on the field. It would have been a bitch covering Mike Wallace in platform boots though. The first round draft choice QB is already 29 and has upside somewhere between Matt Flynn and Matt Cassel. His downside is more along the lines of Spurgeon Wynn or Rex Grossman. It seems as if by the time they identify all this and bring in more good players, the ones they have now will be gone. The urgency level at Berea is about the same as an employee at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Browns 2013 prospects? Grim, but not as grim as the Indians.
The Cavs have a legit big time player in Irving. They also have a bunch of guys that are good enough to be role players in the NBA. The Cavs are going to spend a lot of time talking about “the excitement of watching these young guys play together”. Let me translate that for you. “We are looking forward to a few of these guys being OK and losing enough games so we get another lottery pick. Maybe we can get lucky and get a really good big man.” If the Cavs #1 pick Waiters, who’s already drawing some comparisons to draft bust John “Bags” Bagley, turns out to be a mediocre NBA player, they’ll lose tons of games and get a lottery pick. That will be good news until two years later when Irving leaves and they start over hoping to lose a shitload of games again. The downside is if Waiters is pretty good and then they become the Milwaukee Bucks. That is the Doomsday Scenario of the NBA. You aren’t good enough to win a playoff series and aren’t bad enough to get a good pick to improve. Forget free agency. No NBA superstar is coming to Cleveland. Ever. Look around. Let’s say I give you $100 million dollars. Would you come here or LA? Here or New York? Here or Miami? Yeah. Me too. The Cavs have to get lucky in the draft. Really lucky.
2013 prospects? Less grim than the Browns and much less grim than the Indians. Still pretty grim though.
The key to this Era of Despair is to appreciate it for what it is. It’s all about appreciating the journey to futility. Step backwards in your mind. How did they get there? Did the Indians really trade a Cy Young pitcher for a backup catcher and a 19 year old with an arm injury? Yesssssss. Did the Browns really draft a defensive end in the second round and try to turn him into a linebacker? Yesssssss. Did the Cavs actually have Shaquille O’Neil? Yesssssss. Perhaps one day it will all seem quaint like Jethro Tull, the show “James at 15”, El Caminos, stone washed jeans, and Oscar Gamble’s afro. For now, just enjoy the ride.
Be sure to check out more insensitive stuff written by Greg Miller at http://nursethehate.blogspot.com/
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