Happy first Thursday of 2017, Cleveland. I trust you’re all celebrating accordingly with a meal of SPAM and butternut squash, as of course is tradition. Actually I’m quite certain that is not a tradition, but really is it any weirder than pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s? The Indians are in the offseason, the Cavs are chugging along while chugging Nyquill and antibiotics, and I’m unable to muster any strong opinions for a team that just finished a 1-15 season (and envious of those who can). But While We’re Waiting…
Is our enjoyment of sports (or anything, really) exclusively tied to expectations? Are fans and humans really that shallow and emotionally untuned? It’s a well-trafficked topic, including by myself and this website. But I haven’t had time to read anything else interesting this week, and it’s weighing heavy on my mind in the wake of Ohio State’s 31-0 loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve, and the Browns’ completion of a near-flawless 1-15 season the following afternoon.
More than what do fans expect … what are we entitled to? After the Browns clinched their 1-15 reverse-masterpiece, there was hubbub from some sectors that there wasn’t enough contrition or penance for a disaster by the Browns administration. The counter to that was that the Browns were supposed to suck this year — by design — as if that was supposed to make me feel any better that they sucked. What are fans and media owed? Is consistent competence and mediocrity sprinkled with the occasional banner year too much to ask?
On the other hand, the Ohio State Buckeyes qualified for the College Football Playoff and had an 11-2 season. But as someone who was fortunate enough to attend the Michigan game and unfortunate enough to attend the Fiesta Bowl, I spent the majority of both games flabbergasted. For the last three or more games of the season, Ohio State ran an astoundingly impotent offense. I’m used to ineptitude (and even relish it) with the Browns. But watching the Buckeyes seemingly forget how to offense was stupefying. Even in the Michigan win, I spent 90 percent of the game scratching my head, turning to the people in my section, and wondering aloud, “What the hell are they doing???”
I thought Ohio State’s offense was supposed to be premised on a spread power-run attack with a vertical play-action passing and complementary intermediate passing games and attacks to the edge. Instead, the Fiesta Bowl game plan was a non-offense overly dependent on quarterback runs and slow-developing (read: undeveloped) pass plays. Ohio State did not even feign an interior run game (running back Mike Weber had, by my count, one carry in the first half for five yards). Even after zero points first half, Ohio State insisted on emptying the backfield and having elaborate formation changes for a quarterback who doesn’t read coverage as much as ignore them. It was enraging to the point that I felt the Ohio State coaching staff utterly failed its fans and players — something I don’t say lightly.
And this was a team that went 11-2! While my professional equivalent went 1-15. What kind of cognitive dissonance does it take to make this work? Now that the Indians have raised expectations with a World Series run and the signing of Edwin Encarnación, how should I feel if they miss the playoffs next year? Can I possibly exit this Cavaliers season a happy fan if they don’t win the NBA Finals? Is there any hope of calibrating expectations in a way to cultivate perpetual happiness? Or am I right to think that the Browns should at least be able to win 7-to-9 games most years, and that Ohio State has the resources and talent to seldom lose games — and never lose games like they did on New Year’s Eve? What are your thoughts?
Your Calvin and Hobbes strip of the day. No no no, I’m sure 2017 is going to be great. It’s going to be much better than 2016.
And now for the random 90s song of the day. Like many of the enduring acts of the 90s, The Flaming Lips were just ordinarily bizarre before they learned how to channel that bizarre-ness into something much more experimental than quirky iterations of “rock” music. Before they became indie/alt-rock darlings with Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, their biggest commercial U.S. hit came nearly 10 years earlier with “She Don’t Use Jelly.”
The Lips’ “She Don’t Use Jelly” is a lovably joyful tune celebrating the idiosyncrasies of the people we meet. It’s an anthem for being weird in the most mundane ways. The video features Wayne Coyne and company banging heads in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings with psychedelic transitions, bubbles, and balloons — which really describes every rock music video of the 90s this side of Nirvana. Here’s a modern live version of “She Don’t Use Jelly” with all the theatricality characteristic of the Lips. It’s the best Vaseline-themed song of the 90s other than the Stone Temple Pilots’ song named after the petroleum-based consumer product.1 We all know a girl who don’t use jelly and a guy who blows his nose with magazines. This one’s for them.
I know a girl who thinks of ghosts
She’ll make ya breakfast
She’ll make ya toast
She don’t use butter
She don’t use cheese
She don’t use jelly
Or any of these
She uses Vaseline
- But misspelled “Vasoline.” [↩]