Long, harsh winter nears an end
It has been a while since I have written a column. The reasons should be obvious. I have no desire to write the same thing over and over, and I doubt anyone wants to read that as well.
There is not much worse than a sportswriter complaining. It accomplishes nothing and I have no desire to wrap myself in the deep-seated cynicism needed to make it entertaining for you the reader.
Winter is never good in Cleveland, but I can’t remember a worse one. Here in Northeast Ohio, we can handle the cold, the long gray skies and the constant bombardment of snow. Helping pass the days is sports. We love to complain about sports here in Cleveland but this winter it really quit being funny.
Winter started with a vengeance on December 2 when LePippen and his traveling circus rolled into town, and the Cavs laid down without a fight. In an instant, the Cavs reverted to the Stepien Days.
There was a lot of bad basketball in my youth, but none of it prepared me for the dreadfulness of this team. They are unwatchable. Even having the Heat struggle at times has brought little joy. Basketball just isn’t fun anymore.
Cleveland State seemed poised to jump into the void, and the Vikings fell flat on their faces. This was the weakest NCAA field in many years. The Vikings had a marketable star in Norris Cole yet could not get the job done. The conference was theirs to take and they folded down the stretch.
Cleveland could have become a college basketball town, and the opportunity was lost.
But hey there is always our beloved Browns right? They stumbled down the stretch, fired another coach and brought in a unknown quantity to be the new coach. Another new offense and new defense will have to be installed.
The Browns want Colt McCoy and Co. to learn a new offense but the coaches aren’t allowed to teach it because of the lockout. The Browns want to start running a 4-3 defense but only have one defensive lineman who can play it and the front office isn’t allowed to sign any new players.
The longer the lockout goes and it is going to go on throughout the summer, the better the chance the Browns win even less games next season.
But in baseball hope always springs eternal right? My entire childhood was immersed in losing baseball yet I still loved my Tribe.
However — and this stat stunned me, it is so unbelievable — until last season the Indians had never lost 92 or more games in back-to-back years since 1915.
In fact the franchise even back to the Blues-Bronchos-Naps days has never lost 90 or more games three years in a row ever. In1977-1978 the Indians lost 90 both years and in 1914 as the Naps lost 102. They became the Indians in 1915 and lost 95.
So in 2007, the Cavs shocked the Pistons and made the finals. The Indians were one game away from the World Series. Now the Cavs are back to being a punch line and the Indians are on the verge of historic badness.
That it would be this bad less than four years later is inconceivable to me.
But as is said in Princess Bride, apparently that word doesn’t mean what I thought it meant.
I don’t really want to write about this every week so I took a break. But winter always ends.
The first Thursday of every NCAA tournament has always been one of my favorite days of the year. Wall-to-wall basketball but my sports appetite was been diminished. I wasn’t nearly as excited for the tournament as I once was. This year the first Thursday fell on March 17 and I worried amateur hour would ruin it.
Then a St. Patrick’s Day miracle happened. The weather was perfect and all of the places I wandered around downtown Cleveland were filled with happy people glad to freed from the bounds of a heartless winter.
I watched maybe 15 minutes of basketball after being prepared to watch 12 hours worth.
As a life long Clevelander, all it takes is one perfect day of sunshine to forgive the harshest of winters.
So Grady Sizemore still isn’t ready to slide. So Travis Hafner still doesn’t have his power back. So the zoo director that brings the animals onto David Letterman is our starting third baseman.
The team is full of unproven youngsters and several more stashed in the minors year or too away from the majors. There were no major signings in the off-season. Our best player, Shin Soo-Choo’s agent has a countdown calender in his office until free agency.
But I like this team. I think the offense will be better than most expect. The bullpen should be the strength of the team and the starting rotation isn’t that far removed from what the rest of the division.
So I bought my ticket for Opening Day, and I am back on the bandwagon. Call me an optimist but I think the Indians will contend for the playoffs this year.
So when is Opening Day? April 1st.
Well that’s a little too on the nose now isn’t it.