Monday, October 28, 2013

Cleveland Sports: A Metaphor

As a Cleveland native, I have had a lot of experience with disappointment. Our sports teams are known across the country for countless mishaps and “almosts”, raising our hopes and then crushing our dreams. It’s been this way for most of the last century, although my experience has been a limited to the mid-90's when I became more aware of our sporting triumphs and tragedies:

  •  In the ‘95, the Indians made it the World Series with over 100 wins of the season and some of the best players at the time (Albert Belle, Manny Ramierez,  Kenny Lofton), then lost in six games, although managed to make all but one of these a “one run game” so as to keep us on our feet.
  • Also in ’95, Art Modell stole the Browns and took them to Baltimore. We fought and won to keep the name and colors for when we would eventually get a team back, and this episode was even made into a Snicker’s commercial. Remember the “not going anywhere for a while” campaign? Remember the sad image of two decked-out Brown’s fans sitting in an empty stadium? I do.
  • In ’97, we made it back to the World Series, with Sandy Alomar Jr., Jim Thome and Omar Visquel and made it to the seventh game against Miami. In this final game, we were 2-2 in the bottom of the 9th after a great showing, with one out and all that was needed was to stay the course. Two more outs. Not possible for this city.
  • We finally got the Browns back in ’99, although different players and different owner, and couldn’t have been more excited. That was, until we played our rival Pittsburgh Steelers as the first game back and were crushed in 43-0 loss. Welcome back to football, Cleveland.
  • Then there was LeBron. He gave our city so much hope, promising us a championship and even making it to the play-offs year after year, ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10. And then choking every time. His star performances in the regular season were never matched and it felt like he was personally letting us down.
  • Then he let us down for real. In what will be forever known as the Decision, he broke up with us on national tv, giving the highly televised “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” bullshit. Basically after promising to do one thing and then doing exactly the opposite we were left jaded and reeling from the break-up. So much in fact that we went on break our previous NBA record of having the longest losing streak in the NBA in 2010-11 season.
  • This year the Indians are back in action, doing well all season, securing a spot in the Wild Card playoff game and then… you guessed it, choking. The very next day, our newly rising star quarterback leading the Browns in a .500 record thus far got injured early in the game and was declared to be out the rest of the season. ::Sigh::

And that is only what’s happened since I’ve been active in the sports world. The full shameful history would be much longer and more miserable. So why do I go into all this on a blog about my sub-fertility? Well, I like all Cleveland sport fans, have had a long history of hope swallowed up by disappointment and of managing this grief. As one writer put it, “At this point Cleveland fans are familiar enough with the stages of grief that I think they just skip right to acceptance." (see the full article here) One might say that my years spent watching and rooting for various sports teams in this town has well-prepared me for the current challenges I’m now facing. Or maybe it’s just made me more guarded from the start. Hope is a dangerous thing. I’ve learned that it’s the high that will enviably result in a crash and burn. And yet hope is what drive us, keeps up from despair, and helps us to keep moving forward.

So here’s to hoping that C and I are able to have a healthy baby before the Indians win their next World Championship, Browns make it to the Super bowl, or the Cavaliers finally get their championship ring! Cross your fingers, pray on your talismans, and pull-out your lucky underwear that my luck is better than the entire city of Cleveland sports. Otherwise, I really am going to believe that it’s the water (our river did catch on fire from pollution back in the day, after all). J

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