Every fan must deal in their own way
Published: Thursday, May 06, 2010
So I was literally in the middle of writing a column about the Cavs and the various reactions of fans after the game two loss to the Celtics when the ninth inning of yesterday’s Indians game began.
That is the best the Indians can aspire to this year — being background noise while tending to something else.
Outside of Shin Soo Choo, the Indians really have nothing to inspire fans to watch this season. Not only are the Indians below mediocre, they aren’t even fun to watch.
I considered attending yesterday’s game in person thinking I could watch the entire game and still make it to work on time. Instead, I watched it on TV while I took care of some odds and ends.
For the first eight innings, it wasn’t too bad. Fausto is looking more like the Fausto of old. The offense is still pathetic, but Hafner hit a bomb and the Tribe eked out enough runs to take a 4-2 lead into the ninth.
As Chris Perez took the mound and naturally that ol’ Cleveland doubt crept in. But Perez retired the first two outs, and even after he allowed a double, a victory seemed certain as a routine grounder rolled its way to Luis Valbuena.
As the ball emerged through Valbuena’s five hole, I am sure everyone knew what would happen next. I felt it. I am sure everyone at the place formerly known as the Jake felt it. All of the Indians players felt it and the Toronto Blue Jays most certainly felt it.
I didn’t even look up at the crack of the bat. I knew where the ball was headed before it was ever pitched.
In the bottom of the ninth, Choo teased us a little with his immense talent. But there was no joy to be found.
It is easy to mock those of us who have followed Cleveland sports for so long. Two years ago I was at the Browns Thursday night home game against the Broncos with a Colts fan. He was shocked at how quickly the stadium got quiet and then stayed quiet after the Broncos Jay Cutler threw a 93-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal to start the fourth quarter. The Browns, he argued, still had the lead. I told him we had just watched “this game” four days earlier against the Ravens and we have watched it over and over through the years. We knew what was going to happen and there was little we could do to stop it. My Colts friend said, “The problem with you people is you don’t believe.”
Actually the opposite is true.
Getting back to the Cavs, in the newsroom on Monday, there were the typical Cleveland reactions everywhere. There was pessimism and anger (The Cavs are going to lose this series and I am tearing all the posters off the wall). There was excitable mood swings (We are doomed. We are coming back and the Celtics will be swept. I can’t believe this happening. We are doomed.) There was stoic wit indifference being used as a defense mechanism. (I can’t believe how worked up you guys are getting.) There was putting on a brave face (Hey this is just one game, but man I have seen this movie before.) And of course the one non-Clevelander with no dog in the fight saying, “Um, it is just one game and you have LeBron James)
I figured the reason most people start to watch sports is it’s fun. But this entire playoff run with the Cavs will not be. Sure there might be moments of happiness. The thrill of a dunk or chase down block by LeBron. A joyous roar of a three finding the bottom of the net. But the simple truth is any win against the Celtics or even the next round against a Magic team playing its best ball of the year will only be a momentary relief. The only win that counts is the last game of the season. Until the Cavs win four games in the NBA Finals, as fans, there will always be a knot in our stomach. And it is not undeserved.
This, for better or worse, is an all or nothing season. The best record in the league for two straight years. The uncertainty of LeBron’s contract. For those of us who suffered so much over the years watching our teams, this season is almost referendum on everything. Do I really believe that a championship, just one championship will erase all the pain of all those catchphrase loses? Do I think seeing that NBA title held aloft in Public Square will end all those horrible highlights the networks reshow every game?
Yes, yes I do.
So forgive us, Cleveland fans, if we over react to every play and every game. We don’t want to believe in curses. We want to believe a championship is possible despite all evidence to the contrary.
So elbow is more than an elbow. Having three days off to ponder the loss makes everything worse. The waiting is always the hardest part.
Now, these emotions have nothing to do with the players. They should be in a bubble, our hurts and fears should mean nothing for them. But I have to believe the pressure in that locker room is enormous. I doubt it would be very much fun to be Mike Brown or Mo Williams right now. So it was good to see how calm LeBron was after the loss. It is only the first week of May. He knows he will need every inch of his broad shoulders to carry this team and with it all of Northeast Ohio into mid-June.
I fully expect LeBron to be amazing on Friday night in Boston. But I expect the game and all of those that follow the rest of this season to be a roller coaster of emotions. So, don’t judge your friends and family on how they behave. We all cope in our own ways. Anger. Silence. Fretting. Overcheering. Pretend calmness. But we all want the same thing.
To win just once.