Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I really don't want to talk about it but if you insist

Sure the Browns are 1-2, but they certainly did not embarrass themselves the last two weeks on the road in Green Bay and Indianapolis.
Certainly, a flag did cost them another punt return, and the offense could not punch it in for a touchdown. But Romeo Crennel has provided what he was brought in for. The Browns are competing.
(No, I don't really want to talk about the Browns and yes, I am stalling for time and avoiding what we all want to talk about this week.)
On page two of the big city daily, there is often a list of gripes or general man-on-the-street thoughts. One last week was about the Indians. One reader said he wasn't following the Tribe because he had his heart broken one too many times.
And for those of you who just started paying attention, Sunday's game would seem to just be another one of those moments.
Red Right 88. The Drive. The Fumble. The Shot. Joe Table. The Drop.
The first four need no introduction. I still can't say the fifth's real name aloud and the last is something I made up to describe that Pittspuke playoff debacle that ended with Northcutt letting one slip out of his hands. (I know what you may have been thinking, but I am not going there. If you are confused stay with me or don't-- go read the column about thunder thighs on page 9A.)
And despite how the Indians have played —winning 17 out of 20 games — you really can't win every game. Before the road trip started last week, the goal was to win both series and come home with a 5-2 record. They did just that.
Of course as fans, we are greedy. And the team will be the first to say they should have won all seven. They blew a lead in each game they lost and allowed the opponents to walk off with a victory.
But when "IT" happened Sunday, I did not throw my remote and turn off the TV in anger. I did not lose faith at all. It wasn't another moment to add to our miserable lore.
Teams lose games, and in Cleveland they often lose painful games. We like to give them name —here are a few more — The Helmet. Bottlegate. An onside kick and a Hail Mary.
Tom Hamilton went on a tangent during a recent game about the fans who are afraid to get excited because they don't want to have their hearts broken. It was very potent and heartfelt. He said something about being a fan is about taking chances and that was what life is all about.
I am not that poetic. I say if they don’t want to watch, screw ‘em.
I am sure that many turned the games back on this past week. And when the go-ahead run was wild pitched in on Sunday, certainly those Prodigal sons said, "Here we go again."
But Westbrook, with all of the "experts" ready to take him out of the playoff rotation, threw a strong game. When he did get in trouble by loading the bases with no outs in the eighth, he got himself out of it with no damage.
The Indians didn't even hit a ball out of the infield in the ninth yet still found a way to tie the game. I mean, really, they had no business winning Friday night but still did; they had no business tying the game in the first place.
So before you want to label Grady Sizemore's miscue "The Drop" there are a few things you need to know. First, he didn't drop the ball — it was more like it hit him.
But more importantly, there is a huge difference between that play and those that went before it.
This did not end a season like the first list I shared many paragraphs before. We still control our own destiny. But before you accuse me of being all Pollyanna and want to recite everything that has happened since 1964, here is this: If you had been paying attention all season, this team doesn't care about what happened yesterday.
Like their manager, they don't get too high and they don't get too low. A Chicago columnist complained that while the White Sox were pumped for the big series, he was shocked at how the Indians took everything in stride. It is what they do.
Here is the other part of the whole "they will just break our hearts" dramatics. This team wasn't supposed to win our hearts this year. The season was shot in April. The race was over. The playoffs merely myth.
But no one told this team. For the first time all season, the starters have had a string of so-so starts. And the Johnny-come-latelies are ready to push the panic button. But in each case, the starter battled and the team found enough offense.
So trust me when I tell you despite what happened Sunday afternoon, the sky is not falling. If you are afraid to have your heart broken fine, don't watch. It hasn't affected this team one bit.
And when the victory parade comes along in late October or early November, I won't even call you out and ask you to leave.
Well, maybe.