Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Final Morning Journal Column

As William Goldman wrote in the Princess Bride, “Life isn’t fair ... We tell our children that it is, but it’s a terrible thing to do. It’s not only a lie, it’s a cruel lie. Life is not fair, and it has never been, and it’s never going to be.”

I like sports, always have. Despite my limited athletic ability, I played as long as I could. For most of my life, my favorite activity was to play pick-up basketball. I could relax and compete at the same time. Being on the court was freeing and most importantly it was fun. However there is nothing worse than playing in a pickup game and becoming a ghost. If you don’t get the ball passed your way, that’s bad.

But when the ball is never passed to the guy you are defending, that’s even worse. At one point, pickup becomes wind sprints and that is no fun. It is only human nature and at some point, you quit running hard and soon after you lose all interest.

I envy the grown-ups I meet that don’t follow sports. Those Indians commercials that STO has been running ad nauseam this year have had the opposite of the desired effect the Indians were hoping for.

What If?

What if I didn’t waste so much of my life following people who play a game I have no impact on? What if John Elway didn’t break my heart?

What if I spent a lovely spring day outside then watch Michael Jordan break Craig Ehlo’s ankles?

What the Indians were never around and I could pick heroes based on skill rather than location?

But I have an addiction — one I can’t seem to give up.

I like talking about sports but I am finding that I don’t like most other people who want to talk about sports. With the big Indians trade, I tried to listen to talk radio or watch “talk” TV. I never last long. Loud men yelling stupid things with no facts or basis in reality — and the callers are pretty bad too.

ESPN and Jim Rome have ruined sports talk. There is no exchange of ideas just shtick.

At a certain point with so many voices yelling so many things, you realize your opinion doesn’t matter.

Take this trade for Ubaldo Jimenez for example. Could I really write anything anyone else hasn’t already said? I feel no need to scream my opinion but honestly I want to watch it play out it.

We all start playing sports for fun. We play catch with our dads. We play whiffle ball with our brothers. We join organized sports and slowly have the fun strained out of it. Those with talent get to keep playing until their dreams get snuffed out.

Maybe it is when they start throwing curve balls, maybe it is that oppressive stage parent, maybe it the coach that can only keep so many. Most of us quit when it quits being fun. If you are lucky, someone pays you some day. Yet the majority of the professional athletes I have met and nearly all of the professional sportswriters I have met are miserable people.

Sportswriters cheer for the clock. They want quick games so deadlines can be met. I am sure they all started out loving sports and it is just human nature that turns watching games into a chore.

I starting to discover that there seems to be three types of people. Those who can live their lives happily without sports; those who can dabble in sports — enjoy the moment — and step back into their lives; and those who use sports as an excuse to act like a jerk. I wish I was the first, I strive to be the second. I fear becoming the third.

Sports are supposed to be fun. Escapism. Incredible thrilling moments that can’t be scripted.

Maybe this trade by Chris Antonetti fails spectacularly. Maybe Jimenez gets hurts and Drew Pomeranz and Alex White turn into David Wells and David Cone.

But for the next three years, the Indians have a real window. Maybe there is just a crack this year and maybe it doesn’t work.

But I want to watch it and enjoy it as a fan. No matter what happens. Not handicapped by a curse, by my anger of never having won before or limited by making a deadline.