WWW

Sorry NOT SORRY, Tito and the Front Office, Serial, and a new Tradition: While We’re Waiting…

Cleveland Sports

Not only have I never written a “While We’re Waiting…” before, but I haven’t much read them either.  This is likely (a) something I shouldn’t be admitting because (b) I have no reasonable excuse.  In the olden days, when WWW was just a collection of links, I felt fairly justified in my parsimonious clicking.  After all, by the time it came out each morning I’d likely already consumed most of the links it contained—or at least the ones I ever might.

But now that people are writing real live thoughts with words and everything? Well, like I said: no excuse. I point out my negligence only to apologize in advance for what I promise to be a peripatetic tour of nonsense that only obliquely addresses sports and/or Cleveland.  I am new at this, and, much like Calvinball, I’ve been told there are no rules.

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Last Thursday I got to see the Cavs season opener live and in person, and I’ve been trying to decide since whether I should feel guilty about this. I am not, it should be noted, much of a Cavs fan. Before Thursday, I’d only been to two games: a playoff game against the Celtics in 2008 and a post-LeBron loss in 2010 against the team from Charlotte that I understand to be fairly awful and whose name I now choose not to look up. I did not grow up with the NBA. Its rhythms and frenetic energy are foreign to me. I prefer the leisurely complacence of a late-summer baseball game, where nothing seemingly happens, and no one much cares if you pay it any mind.  Have a beer. Relax. Dose off a bit, or take a walk.  Whatever. You could even pay attention, if you like. Or not…

My limited experience suggests that the NBA is the polar opposite: there seems a constant concern that every person in the arena may suffer severe ADHD and could stop paying attention at any moment. To combat this, every combination of sound, light, and skin is deployed to stimulate the bejeezus out of you for 2 hours, until you leave exhausted and exhilarated.

But I digress. I mean here only to say that I have since worried that the tickets my wife won in the online lottery may have been better enjoyed by someone who cared more than I did about the game and the team. Someone with a painted face and a foam finger who lived and died with the last four years of unwatchable tripe. That is the one side.

The other side is that I love Cleveland. I love its people and its neighborhoods and its tortured, practiced sense of self, and its humiliated pride. I love its eccentricities that emerge only after a long and sustained courtship, after prying hard against its rough edges.  I love that it is where I have come to call home, and I am grateful to have found out this little secret that so few people care to understand.  And Thursday was about that too. That is the other side.

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Terry Francona signed a contract extension yesterday, keeping him with the Indians through at least 2018.  I will only mention here that this news has been fairly unanimously received as a good thing—yet another good thing our Front Office hath wrought.

They are imperfect and they make massive mistakes and they have blind spots the size of the Grand Canyon and they are infuriatingly always on-message and yet it would be SO MUCH WORSE WITHOUT THEM. I understand that this is not the sort of argument that inspires passionate devotees. But it happens to be true, and all I can do is continue to point it out.

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Here are three links that Jacob thought could be good additions to WWW. I will admit that I have not read them, but I trust Jacob: he’s written a lot more of these than I have.

Jacob is in graduate school these days, which, if they haven’t changed it too much in the last ten years, means that he spends most of his time drinking cheap beer and reading.  Which is just to say: trust Jacob on everything.

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I am—like seemingly everyone else in the world—very much enjoying the Serial podcast. I’m tempted to get in your face and tell you that IT’S THE BEST THING EVER AND YOU JUST HAFTA LISTEN, but then I remember that I’m more baseball than basketball and hey, do whatever you like.  Eat some nachos maybe and just sort of fall asleep in a salt coma as the nothingness washes over you…

Anyway what I find so interesting thus far is that the entire premise of the podcast—this guy who is convicted of this awful crime MIGHT NOT HAVE DONE IT—is not at all the hook for me. I totally think he did it.  Maybe not exactly how the prosecution painted it. Maybe not at all like they say.  But he did it. At least that’s where I’m at after six episodes.

And because I feel like he did it, what I’m most interested in is hearing him lie about it. He’s such a good liar, and this format lets him lie extravagantly and with great foresight and conviction.  He’s an incredibly compelling liar, if that’s a thing, and I find myself liking him better for it—not personally, but in a sort of grudging admiration for his finely honed skill.  He’s clearly thought about this for so long and ironed out every story. It’s so…workmanlike! And then I feel icky, because he did this awful thing and now he’s lying about it and his proficiency is making me like him and what does that say about me?  It’s great, complicit fun.  I wonder though, for those of you who listen: are you with me?  He definitely did it, right?

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As I thought about how I’d fill this space, I looked over Scott’s last While We’re Waiting, and noticed that he does a “beer of the week” item as a sort of recommendation.  I thought maybe I’d write similarly about scotch, but that seems a little too close to Scott’s schtick, and anyway I don’t think I’d convince many of you to go out and buy a $90 bottle of single malt. (Aberlour, cask strength though. It’ll change your life. And shorten it.)

Anyway, the only thing I like more than scotch is poetry.

That is a lie.  I like scotch way more than I like poetry. But I’ve decided to end this and any future WWW’s with a poem.  This one is from a local poet and old friend George Bilgere.  Like me, George grew up near St. Louis and has since come to call Cleveland his home.  Like me, Stan Musial’s death last year hit him in places that had nothing to do with baseball.

Musial

My father once sold a Chevy
to Stan Musial, the story goes,
back in the fifties,
when the most coveted object
in the universe of third grade
was a Stan-the-Man baseball card.

No St. Louis honkytonk
or riverfront jazz club
could be more musical
than those three syllables
rising from the tongue of Jack Buck
in the dark mouths
of garages on our street,

where men like my father
stood in their shirt-sleeved exile,
cigarette in one hand, scotch
in the other, radio rising
and ebbing with the Cards.

If Jack Buck were to call
my father’s drinking that summer,
he would have said
he was swinging for the bleachers.
He was on a torrid pace.
In any case, the dealership was failing,
the marriage a heap of ash.

And knowing my father, I doubt
if the story is true,
although I love to imagine
that big, hayseed smile
flashing in the showroom, the salesmen
and mechanics looking on
from their nosebleed seats at the edge
of history, as my dark-suited dad
handed the keys to the Man,
and for an instant each man there
knew himself a part of something
suddenly immense,

as when,
in the old myths, a bored god
dresses up like one of us, and falls
through a summer thunderhead
to shock us from our daydream drabness
with heaven’s dazzle and razzmatazz.

♦♦♦

Maybe we’ll do this again sometime.

Until then, have a good Wednesday! I hope it has some razzmatazz in it.

 

  • I wrote about Serial a few weeks ago in WWW. I only mention this because it’s interesting to me that now in the last week Craig talked about it in his podcast and you wrote about it here. It’s just interesting to me that WFNY writers don’t seem to read each others’ WWWs. These are often my favorite pieces of the day on the site. But then again, while I do read every single WWW, there are a fair amount of features on the site that I only skim or don’t read at all. So, I’m just as guilty as anyone else of not reading every last word that is posted here.

    Anyway, as for Serial, every week I find myself dying for the next episode to be posted. I can’t get enough of it. This case is fascinating on so many levels. I don’t think Adnan “definitely” did it. I’m still tripped up by the inconsistencies in Jay’s versions of the stories. Like, there are details anyone could get wrong. But nobody forgets where and when a friend shows them the dead body of the girl they just killed, right? I can’t get over that part.

    If I have to lean one way, I do lean toward Adnan being guilty. But either way, like you, I find Adnan to be what makes this series so good and the case so fascinating. If he is guilty, he is an amazing pathological liar and probably (definitely) a psychopath. If he’s innocent, the show is a testament to the failures of the American justice system. Either way, there’s a lot of bang for your buck there.

    I’m eager to see Sarah Koenig’s final thoughts on this case. I’m skeptical that we’ll get a strong declaration of guilt or innocence from her. I think we’ll get something in the grey. Adnan may or may not have killed the girl, but there was something going on here….something between Adnan and Jay that we don’t know, and probably never will. And that secret between them probably holds the answer to this case.

  • JNeids

    If you ever want me to accept an apology instantly, one only needs drop a Calvinball reference. Well played, Jon. Well played.

  • JNeids

    Also, you shouldn’t feel bad about attending The Return of the King (/Tolkien’ed). I’m sure your fan-type was well represented in the Nike Together spot, and I’m even more sure that there will be spectators that care even less about basketball than you attending Cavs games this year.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I’m always saddened when people don’t know what Calvinball is (or ask how it’s played/what the rules are) or when people don’t understand me when I say something negative is still good because it builds character.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I love the site and WWW, but that’s probably an editing issue more than a writer’s one to have people posting the same items. (Other than when it is on purpose.) That said, I don’t think any of us readers expect y’all to read all of each other’s posts let alone links.

    Quick note to said editors: This short commentary style of WWW is far superior to just posting links.

  • Brian R.

    Serial Podcast is great- have you listened to the Slate Spoiler specials? They started 2 weeks ago. Listen to the Serial ep for the week, then the next day listen to the Slate recap. It adds more Serial to your life. Highly recommended.

  • Also, it’s really easy to forget what everyone else has already written, even when you read everything. I promise, I’m not saying “I wrote about Serial, how dare you all?!?!?!!!” In fact, I wish everyone would write about Serial. I’d love to hear everyone’s take on it. It’s more just an interesting thing to me as an owner of this site. That’s all.

  • Andrew

    I also have been hooked by Serial. I agree that Adnan seems like a very complex and interesting guy. It’s really hard to get a read on him, which keeps me into it for sure.

    So far I don’t think he should have been found guilty, just because the case against him is really shaky at best. I’m assuming there has to be some sort of dagger of evidence that Sarah hasn’t given us yet.

    I don’t think he should have been found guilty… that doesn’t mean I don’t think he did it.

  • From an editing standpoint, thank you for the kind words on the commentary style. I continue to be thrilled with this decision and direction.

    Regarding the overlap of thoughts, I only edit copy for these—I never strip out thoughts, etc. I’ll add links to items we’ve discussed where I can, but if someone chooses to write about something someone else did, then so be it. While I agree with Andrew’s thoughts on the unfortunate idea surrounding the non-reading other’s WWWs, I do understand that there’s just not enough time for every writer to read every piece. Plus, like Twitter, it’s good to repeat things as some may get lost in translation.

    Serial is a podcast that is productive, meaningful and simply well done. It takes a lot for anything on the web to be addictive, but they’ve managed to do it. It deserves multiple mentions, whatever the reason.

  • I love cereal. Totally deserves a podcast.

  • Garry_Owen

    I’m also hooked on Serial. It makes a nice accompaniment to lawn mowing (don’t know how I’ll find time to listen to it once the grass stops growing).

    Here’s the thing, though: I’m starting to feel like a creep for being so interested in the story. This hit me while listening to the last episode when Sarah had the exchange with Adnan where Adnan asked her why SHE was so interested in the story. The best she could come up with was “because I find you so interesting.” That’s creepy; but I guess it’s better than the truth, which is: “Ira Glass gave me this great opportunity and I really want to make a kick-ass podcast.” If Adnan is innocent, then this motivation is – at best – terribly insensitive. If he’s guilty, then this motivation is still terribly insensitive (to the victim and everyone else that has now been included in the podcast, having to re-dredge this horrible time in their lives). As a consumer of the podcast, I can’t help but feel a bit insensitive in my voyeuristic fascination with the story (told and massaged simply to make a kick-ass podcast).

    Having said that, I suppose it’s possible that the podcast may result in a better, more just result, which would truly be good. But I very much doubt it will, as it’s just not designed to do so (or if it is the intent, it is a very poorly designed effort).

    Having said THAT, human interest is human interest, and I guess there’s intrinsic value in the human story, regardless of what the story is. I’ll keep listening, and I do really enjoy it, despite my wet-blanket guilt. What makes this story so interesting, though, is the circumstantial nature of almost everything presented (I’m not so naïve as to think that this isn’t the whole design of the podcast). I’m sure we’re not getting the whole story, but I’d guess this is as much by design as it is by happenstance.

  • nj0

    Ah, George Bilgere. One of the good ones.

  • Yeah, not gonna lie, I know exactly what you mean. The whole reason the Serial podcast exists is because Adnan’s best friend’s mom reached out to Sarah. So from the beginning, it feels like Adnan’s side is better represented than Hae’s side. We have no clue how her family feels about the case, Adnan, or even the very fact this podcast is happening, digging all this stuff back up again.

    It’s tricky.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Looks like the Angels weren’t happy with their season already trying to improve for next year:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/angels-add-much-needed-pitching-depth-with-pair-of-trades-010356224.html

  • mgbode

    they dealt for 2 possible relief pitchers that were in the minors. even the Indians could make deals for relief pitching if we feel we need it.

  • mgbode

    My kids had us buy Chocolate Cheerios. It’ll change your life.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The way Francona likes relievers they could use another guy but that wasn’t the point the point was even the Angels who are loaded in talent are proactive. That’s how teams stay good by being proactive. Lets see what else happens.

  • mgbode

    I wouldn’t mind shopping Roberto Perez. I think he’d have some decent value on the trade market and I’m all-in on Yan Gomes, so he’s somewhat expendable.

  • And here’s where the crowd turns on me: I do not like chocolate. Haven’t had any in 20+ years. Not allergic or anything, just do not like it.

  • mgbode

    Eh, no worries. To each their own. I will do my best to eat your share of chocolate in my time on Earth.