WWW

Footnote Day, Steve Bartman, and Hootie: While We’re Waiting…

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Editor’s Note: Huge thank you to Kyle for filling in for today’s WWW. Subsequent to his filing of this column, The Wall Street Journal published an article about Cleveland and it’s new-found “identity crisis” that features a little WFNY and a ton of Cleveland sports. Please check it out.

Today I’m filling this “While We’re Waiting…” Tuesday spot, a princely piece of real estate ordinarily reserved for Andrew. I imagine no one has noticed, but the Team of Thursday WWW folks has slowly been leaking out over the rest of the week, with #TeamThursday member Jessica filling in for Scott last Monday. We’re creeping into your week, gradually transforming the days to be more like Thursday. WATCH YOUR BACK WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY, #TeamThursday IS COMING FOR YOU NEXT. But while we’re waiting…

Happy Greatest Day in Cleveland Sports History Slash Historical Sports Footnote Day, America! Calling someone or something a “footnote” is usually a pejorative term with negative connotations. The most readily identifiable example of an inconsequential footnote devoid of any meaning beyond its answer to obscure trivia questions is “The List,” the catalogue of Cleveland Browns quarterbacks since 1999, which has seen the recent additions of Charlie Whitehurst and Kevin Hogan as the Browns continue their quest for 16 in ‘16. Every sports follower, Cleveland and non-Cleveland alike, has a favorite entry on The List, my personally cherished being Spergon Wynn (with runner-ups Doug Pederson and Ken Dorsey).

But the other type of footnote is one whose knowledge is a celebration of some historical feat or landmark achievement, such as the first two people to walk on the moon,1 or the first man to sign the Declaration of Independence.2 October 25, 2016, will be one of those grand sports-date footnotes alongside October 7, 1916, when Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland 222-0 in a college football game, or April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. For Tuesday, October 25, 2016, is the night the Cleveland Cavaliers will unveil the banner for their first championship team in 52 years, and the night the Cleveland Indians will open the 2016 World Series, hosting Game 1 against the Chicago Cubs.

Although Cleveland fans are hopeful the result is favorable —with the Cavaliers winning to begin a spirited title defense, and the Indians taking the first step in ending their own 68-year title famine (I’m tired of droughts) — Tuesday’s mere existence is meaningful and significant to the City of Cleveland. As far as I can tell, no city has ever opened the World Series on “Banner Night” of its NBA franchise. There have been several instances of cities appearing in the World Series following an NBA Finals appearance (16 by my count), but only six cities who won the Finals before appearing in the World Series the ensuing autumn. Of those six cities, only one had teams host games on the same day: New York on October 16, 1973. But the Knicks were already playing the third game of the season on that Tuesday, while the Mets hosted Game 3 of the World Series (the Knicks beat the Boston Braves, and the Mets lost that game and the subsequent series to the Oakland Athletics). Since, the two events have rarely overlapped, with the NBA season going to the end of October, and the World Series gradually creeping closer to November in the interim.

Tuesday night in Cleveland is a powerfully symbolic moment, and a special occasion beyond having an excuse to get drunk on a Tuesday; one great moment ending, and another just beginning … for both franchises. Pretend I said something profound right here about the circle of life or stars collapsing and spawning new galaxies or whatever. For one night, Cleveland will be the center of the sports world on two different stages, a unique feat in sports history. Let’s enjoy it, and hopefully good fortune will continue to shine on Cleveland in this new (if brief) era of infinite optimism on the City by the Lake.

Random Calvin and Hobbes strip of the day. Which brings us to the Browns. What about the Browns? The thing is, sports fans are insatiable. Although it’s been so long since Cleveland’s last title we’ve surely forgotten, Cleveland will soon learn that championship lust is impossible to satisfy. Fifty-two years will quickly turn to three months and then a year and five years, and we’ll want another one.

Which is why it’s important to appreciate what the Browns are doing. While most people may just see an inept organization entering Rebuilding Phase No. 8 since 1999, I see a team with the great courage to suck so impossibly hard to allow the Cavaliers and Indians to succeed. In the never-ending quest for sports euphoria, the Browns are the one bummer to keep us balanced — Cleveland’s sacrifice to the sports gods. I salute your bravery and steadfast commitment to failure, Browns, and God speed.

calvin-and-hobbes-euphoria

While we’re here: Cubs fans. I would also like to take a moment to thank you all for allowing us to keep the “Cleveland Against the World” narrative going. For while Cleveland is at Peak Annoying right now in our championship haze, we can’t compete against your insufferability. A lot of people may impugn Cleveland fans for relinquishing their tickets to Cubs fans for outrageous sums of money, but some people aren’t in the financial position to pass up $2200 for a pair of tickets. The Cubs have a national and rabid following for a variety of reasons, and there will be many at the games on Tuesday and Wednesday. The ideal solution as far as I can tell is obvious: Indians fans going to the game should dress like Steve Bartman.

Why should fans dress like Bartman (sweatshirt, green turtleneck, blue hat, headphones, pained mixture of loneliness and dread)? The reasons should be plain enough, but here they are: 1. If everyone dresses like Bartman, it will make the actual Cubs fans mostly indistinguishable from Indians fans; 2. It will make the Chicago occupation look like an elaborate ruse planned by Cleveland; 3. It’s within the spirit of Halloween, mere days away; 4. It will freak out the Cubs players; and 5. It will enrage and frighten Cubs fans and, possibly, force them to become violently ill. When Cubs fans’ heads explode/they flee the game like they’ve seen a ghost, Indians fans can remove their Bartman costumes to reveal their Tribe gear, which will most likely be before the third inning. And if this seems mean-spirited, I’m sorry but I’m not the one who made the lifelong fan of my team join witness protection.

And now for the random 90s song of the day. I made an appeal to the deity (deities?) responsible for the R90sSotD for the old “We’re Talkin’ Baseball” theme to Indians broadcasts, but they responded (via an elaborate light system on my wall similar to what Winona Ryder used in Stranger Things), “That’s a little on the nose, don’t you think?” So they went with the next best thing for an Indians playoff game: Hootie.

Although Hootie & the Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View was released in 1994, its chief popularity coincided during the peak of the the 1995 Cleveland Indians, trading top spot on the Billboard charts during the summer of 1995 with the Pocahontas soundtrack and (coincidentally) Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s E. 1999 Eternal, only to lose the top spot to Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, an apt metaphor for what Indians’ fans swallowed when they lost to the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. Like the fervor of 1990s Indians nostalgia, the popularity of Cracked Rear View was both partially justified but ultimately inexplicable (the album sold more copies in the States than Abbey Road), and Hootie & the Blowfish is the only thing that six-year-old me remembers from that year other than the Indians, Fla-Vor Ice popsicles, and learning the food pyramid.

The video features a shirtless white dude with long hair wearing a sweater tied to his cargo shorts, as all videos in the 1990s were contractually obligated to have. Rumors on the internet persist that David Crosby — the legendary songwriter and harmony singer of Crosby, Stills, & Nash (& Young) fame — sings background vocals on “Hold My Hand” and other Hootie songs, but this author suspects they’re fabricated. Darius Rucker of Hootie would go on to sing popular country music, including one of the three country songs I begrudgingly like, “Wagon Wheel” (the other two being John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” and The Eagles’ “Take It Easy”). Think of “Wagon Wheel” as the Indians’ equivalent of Manny Ramirez’s turn with the Red Sox. The 90s were weird.

Hold my hand
Want you to hold my hand
Hold my hand
I’ll take you to the promised land
Hold my hand

Go Indians.

  1. Either Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin, or “two actors directed by Stanley Kubrick,” depending on which version of history you subscribe to. []
  2. Either John Hancock or Herbie Hancock, depending on whether you’re trying to impress people with your knowledge of history or your knowledge of Tommy Boy.  []

  • Hopwin

    I wish I had known about the Bartman gambit before today. I’d have bought gear.

  • NankirPhelge

    Good stuff, substitute teacher.

    1. Yeah, Bartman costumes would be great. They might creep out the players as well as Cubs fans.

    2. I thought The List included only QBs who started a game.

    3. I believe it’s Buffalo Braves.

  • RGB
  • mgbode

    3. You are correct, it seems Kyle bled that over considering he had no such distinction in his own 16 QBs in 16 weeks (h/t to G_O for wanting 17 QBs in 16 weeks prior to that posting).

  • Garry_Owen
  • Garry_Owen

    Read somewhere yesterday (don’t remember where ’cause it wasn’t memorable) that there’s some notion of inviting Steve Bartman to Wrigley to throw out the first pitch in one of the games. If this is true, and if I was Bartman, I’d accept that offer, then stand on the mound and raise a huge “double guns” to all of the Cubs fans all over the world who made his life miserable and threatened to end it. Then I’d chuck that ball as far into the stands as I possibly could.

  • RGB

    What do you think the odds are that the Four Letter already has their Cubs Win the WS/Bartman Redeemed 30 For 30 scripted and ready to produce?

  • Garry_Owen

    They’ve already got the film crew in Chicago for the Game 4 victory celebration, and are rigging microphones in the clubhouse. Too bad they’ve rigged the wrong clubhouse.

  • RGB

    I would love nothing more that to ruin two of the Four Letter’s propaganda-like narratives concerning two of their golden children in the same year.

  • Saggy

    Oh, WSJ – get with the program. FREEMIUM is where it’s at. Every article is behind a paywall. How will i ever know if i want to subscribe if i can’t have a taste of your content?

  • Saggy

    I have friends who were offered SIX times what they paid. They turned it down. Loony bin for those boys.

  • Saggy

    btw – if you don’t like country music, you’re listening to the wrong stuff.

    Start with some classic Hank and then move to George Jones, Cash, Pride, Waylon, and Merle.
    Don’t forget about the girls, too: Loretta, Patsy, and Dolly.
    Graduate to the 70’s stuff like Alabama, Charlie Daniels, and Marshall Tucker – bands who had mainstream hits.
    If you can still stomach the drawl, take in the rest. Garth, Clint, George Strait, Reba, Tim McGraw, Tanya Tucker, Trisha, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, and Shania.

    Those are just the hitmakers. There’s so much to love about the forefathers of Dylan, Springsteen, etc…

  • Saggy
  • Dan

    aside from the 100+ years of not winning the World Series, there is no other story line that favors the Cubs. They are essentially the 2007 Red Sox, trying to peddle an underdog story when their payroll rivals the Yankees. This David and Goliath when you look at the payrolls, and if you factor in the injuries, it is David and Goliath if David broke his hand, had an elbow strain in his sling arm, and lost a pinkie.

    Not to mention that by all intents and purposes, Aroldis Chapman is a garbage human being that nobody should root for.

  • RGB

    Chicago payroll = #5 at $186,402,394
    Cleveland payroll = #22 at $114,707,868

    Just for additional perspective:
    1. Los Angeles Dodgers = $279,107,794
    2. New York Yankees = $227,365,376
    3. Boston Red Sox = $215,066,336
    4. Detroit Tigers = $205,894,085

  • Garry_Owen

    The ’90s were the golden age of Country for me (apart from the kings that paved the way in the ’60s and ’70s – Cash, above all). It has taken a severe hit since then (somewhere in the first decade of this century). I can’t do the current stuff: too canned, cookie cutter, unoriginal, harsh, intentionally and artificially flamboyant and cartoonish to a fault. Makes me sad, because there really was some great stuff for decades.

  • Garry_Owen

    I understand that parking in Cleveland tonight has reached the $100 level.

  • RGB

    I’m not a country music fan by any stretch of the imagination, but old school honky-tonk country is head and shoulders above today’s bro-country.

  • Chris

    I hope Chapman chokes and gets hit harder than he’s ever been hit before.

    Poetic justice.

  • Garry_Owen

    In that vein, there’s nobody better than Ohio’s own Dwight Yoakam.

  • Chris

    Cavs fans will be the most distracted group of fans a banner-raising opener has ever seen.

  • Chris

    I’m just hoping I can find parking at W150th/Puritas rapid station.

  • Chris

    G_O… this is from a recent comedy special. It’s to your point and absolutely hilarious.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTUP4ET2IE0

  • Garry_Owen

    That’s hilarious! He nailed a good portion of it. (Funny, because he sounds like he’s singing a Kenny Chesney song, which is what everyone tries to do now – even though I think Chesney was in many ways the original, genuine article.)

  • Garry_Owen

    My other major complaint is the new brand of “in your face” country rock bands that sings this same stuff, just in an angrier, louder tone, with crazy costumes that look something like country/western gear but with more skin, no functionality, and lots and lots of mesh. These bands couldn’t wipe the spit off of a Lynyrd Skynyrd stage.

  • Saggy

    I totally agree. I am a Hank fan, but Johnny Cash is right there. I also include Bluegrass (Bob Wills and others…) and the related stuff.

    The downfall started with one song: Any Man Of Mine, by Shania Twain. That one song changed the country world forever. What came immediately before it and after it was wonderful (as you said, mid 90’s golden-age country like Alan Jackson, Tracy Byrd, Confederate Railroad, Tim McGraw, Garth, etc…), but it evolved into modern pop/rock music pretty quickly thereafter. I can do a few modern bands in spurts, but I do prefer the older stuff.

  • Saggy

    I went to school in Georgia and then spent another 4 years working down there after graduation. My college life was plastered with the Allmans, Charlie Daniels, Skynyrd, and David Allan Coe.

  • mgbode

    The mesh would make wiping spit difficult.

  • Saggy

    it reminds me of the last verse of David Allan Coe’s, “You Never Even Called Me By My Name,” which is written tongue in cheek.

    check it here, if you’re not famliar, at about 3:04
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_qfujQ_jTQ&list=RDm_qfujQ_jTQ#t=195

  • Garry_Owen

    GREAT SONG.

  • Garry_Owen

    Jon Anderson, Sammy Kershaw, Faith Hill, Randy Travis, Tracy Lawrence . . . so many good ones.

    As I mentioned above, Kenny Chesney is also culpable for the change, but not by intent. When he started, he was a legit, talented star – and he deserved it. There was a place for him. But now everyone is trying to replicate the Chesney phenomenon.

    Another point: I trace a significant departure from good, truly talented country music to the banishment of the Dixie Chicks. Say what you will for what they did politically, but they were GOOD. The country music scene consciously chose a lesser form of art when they kicked them to the curb.

  • RGB

    DAC is also from Ohio.