As some of you know, I have lived in the Cleveland area all my life. What’s more, I am and have been a die hard Cleveland Indians fan ever since I found out what baseball was. Thanks to these two facets of my life, I have long since come to terms with the special brand of disappointment that only Cleveland sports can deliver. This is a town which ploughs through snow and heartache on a very regular basis.
Having said that, I am not watching tonight’s return of LeBron James to Quicken Loans Arena. Personally, i’m done with the hype over booing the latest former Cleveland sports star who “broke our hearts” and find it a little hard to believe that this city still has the energy and anger after all the other drama we’ve dealt with for so long.
It all really began with the ’54 World Series. After having the best record in baseball, Willie Mays’ catch in center field at Polo Grounds signaled the beginning of the shell shock which would plague this city for decades. Then, of course, the Browns were dominating football, but they, too, would eventually join the Indians in futility. The Cavs, of course, have never won a title and didn’t even make the NBA Finals until 2007. Let’s not even talk about the NHL Barons, especially since they were a faint speck on the Cleveland sports timeline.
Cleveland is so used to sports failure that each disappointment merits its own name:
Dime Beer Night
Red Right 88
It really started to hurt, though, when the names changed from events to people. Sure, sports stars, both current and future, had left Cleveland in the past, usually achieving careers which simply would not have happened here. Those departures, though, were more often the result of poor team decisions. It took the true rise of free agency in the 90’s for players themselves to become part of the Disappoint List:
LeBron James is just the latest name to join that list, a list that will continue to grow, no matter how good Cleveland sports becomes in the future. I, for one, have come to accept this fact. While I do love my baseball, I love the game itself. The players don’t need me to obsess over them. Maybe it’s time Cleveland took that mindset, too.