My fiancÃ© asked me, as I was mourning the Cavs’ brilliant year being wiped away forever, why I have not gotten used to this yet. After all, it has been 45 years since a Cleveland sports franchise championship, and countless moments of pure and utter heartbreak. I had no answer. You think I WOULD be used to this by now. Cubs fans, for instance, have a kind of sick humor towards their team- they are just expected to lose, to blow it… Instead of being bitter and looking for curses and other superstitious events to blame, they laugh it off and move on. Me, I wallow for weeks and burn my Sport Illustrated copies that HAD to put Lebron and “Cleveland Rocks” on their cover, in the dawn of the Eastern Conference Finals– the ultimate supersticious prediction of FAILURE.
My fiancÃ©’s question seems a tad harsh, sure. He is also a victim of some drought and heartbreak being a Philly fan. I give him credit, though 25 years compared to 45 is still a big difference. He doesn’t mean to belittle my pain, or the city’s starved fans in general. He just asked a straight-up question. And why on earth aren’t I numb to this? Why is this not a sick joke, that Cleveland fans find amusing? Of course we lost, we’re Cleveland! Ha ha ha, let’s get drunk.
I am only 30. There were 15 years prior where other Cleveland fans had to endure a drought. My parents, who were 14 at the time the Browns won the ’64 Championship (this is pre-Super Bowl, folks), barely remember it. And that was the last time Cleveland won anything. But my parents remember Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, The Choke, and countless other salt-in-the-wound heartbreaks with “The” in front of it, that the Cleveland sports fans have had to endure. As I watched the end of the last game, the Cavs being embarrassed in Orlando, the lovely TNT sportscast treated me to another round of all these moments, and tacked on the end: 2009: The Cavs Bow Out. Thanks guys. Please, feel free to beat us down to sell newspapers and get more viewership. We should be used to it by now.
My first taste of Cleveland Heartache was in 1989. I was about 10, just getting into basketball. Michael Jordan ran rampant. I remember a kid in my neighborhood getting beaten up for his Air Jordans. But we had Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, and a team with actual potential. Maybe, just maybe. But we did not have Jordan, who proved to be the difference, with the infamous “The Shot”. I was sad, probably cried, but still a young and innocent youth…I had no idea what I was in for. In Cleveland.
Fast forward 20 years. I am 30. Now the Cavs, my team, has #23, the New Jordan, the MVP. Now, it’s different. Nobody in our way. Not even Kobe scares me.Â I allowed my expectations to get way too high for my own good. I let down my guard. Leborn even made a buzzer-beater in game 2 that maybe.. no.. it HAD to reverse the curse, redefine “The Shot”. Maybe, just maybe. I began dreaming of how happy I’d be when I heard the sportscaster say “Cleveland, your drought is over! Your Cavaliers are NBA Champions!” I’d probably cry tears of joy, for once.. Joy! Not tears over Jose Mesa and the stolen ’97 Series…. not tears over Art Model moving my Browns to Baltimore -to then win a championship over there….. not tears of frustration with Kosar’s Browns in the late 80′s. No more “choke” hand signals, no more Tomahawk Chops from Braves fans, no more Charles Barkley making fun of my city. Alas, I forgot… This is Cleveland. Mistake by the lake. And even though the reason for that tagline is no longer relevant, Cleveland will always endure it.. Until we are finally proven #1. And in Cleveland, not even the combined MVP, Best Coach of the Year, and the top record, guarantees anything. Silly me. I forgot. I always forget. Lebron made me forget.
I just hope I’m alive, and not too bitter and numb from endless, inevitable heartache, to enjoy a championship. If it ever happens. For now I mooch off of the Philly fans, now that I am a transplanted fan over here in PA, embracing their World Champion Phillies.. Coached by none other than ex-Indian coach, Charlie Manuel. Of course! ha ha ha, pass me the Vodka.
A video of all the heartbreaking moments. Bring tissues.
My favorite Cleveland sports blog. yes, it’s actually called waitingfornextyear.com. And that truly is a Cleveland Fans motto:
There is always next year.