It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it, Cleveland?
In the span of just eight days, all three of our major sports teams have played. One went well. Two did not, though one of those loses was, at this point, kind of expected. But with all this action comes plenty of emotion, and I’m feeling a lot of feelings about the world of Cleveland sports. Let’s crack open the red wine and unpack these emotions together, shall we?
The Browns are (Unintentionally) Tanking
At a certain point last season, I stopped caring about the Browns. Wait—that’s too bold a statement. At a certain point last season, my heart was no longer “behind” the Browns. Sure, I still want them to do well. Yes, I have gone to games and cheered them on (though was not given many opportunities to do so). And OK, I’ll still watch that pack of losers on a lazy Sunday if the opportunity presents itself, but I’m certainly not seeking them out. It dawned on me sometime during the 2016 season that it’s not just hard to feel an emotional pull to a team that, week in and week out, lets us all down… it eventually becomes impossible.
When I reached my Browns-induced breaking point, I realized something very important: No longer feeling emotionally attached to the winless Browns is incredibly liberating, and I recommend you try it soon. Continue to support them if you’d like, but just stop caring about the outcome. It’s a lovely mind frame to be in.
Kyrie is a Celtic For Real
Once upon a time, I tried to rationalize Kyrie’s desire to leave Cleveland. I understood only that I didn’t understand—and that was enough for me. I hated that he wanted to leave, but more than anything, I was sad to see him go.
And then he ran his mouth. He gushed about how great it felt to be in a “real sports city” and, instead of accepting his new home in Boston with grace and class, Kyrie kicked Cleveland square in the bathing-suit area. How quickly my sadness turned to anger.
And then Tuesday night happened, and I was both. Watching the NBA’s opening night from the comfort of my couch, it was sad and strange and disorienting to see Kyrie in Boston’s green and white. So much so, TNT accidentally gave his first two points of the game to the Cavs—an error that was quickly corrected. I felt those familiar pangs of anger, too, as Kyrie sank jumper threes and glided effortlessly up and down the court with a familiar smirk that suddenly felt smug. Did I “boo” along with the crowd at The Q? I can neither confirm nor deny.
After Kyrie missed a three at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime, LeBron James wrapped him up in a bear hug. Ugh, my heart… there’s that sadness again. That sadness amplified immensely as I watched Kyrie go, former teammate by former teammate, through a line of Cavs, doing all the old handshakes that were routine less than three months ago. But nostalgia doesn’t completely wash away the mad, and I find myself left somewhere in the middle—a feeling I’m sure I’ll grow accustomed to this season.
Feel-o-Meter: Crying All the Tears
Oh, RJ. Ours is a complicated relationship. I adore you, listen to (and promote) your podcast and have cheered for you just as much as any Cavs fan could.
And you… are still blocking me on Snapchat.
Putting our differences aside, I’m so bummed to see Richard Jefferson go. He was valuable on the court and an even more so one off of it, and I’m worried about the Cavs locker room without him in it. RJ is the kind of player who lifts up everyone around him—teammates, coaches, even the fans—and I fear this season just won’t feel the same without that palpable chemistry.
RJ, I heard a rumor you may be interested in returning to/staying in Cleveland as a coach (have you even left yet?), and that makes my heart so happy. If things don’t work out with the Nuggets and the Bucks, please oh please stay. And if things do work out and you land somewhere other than The Land, I’ll be in the corner, weeping.
The Tribe Imploded
How do you mourn a postseason that never really was? I’m still struggling to find the answer.
It’s hard for me to believe a week from last night, I was excitedly shuffling into the Jake with 35,000 of my closest friends, ready to cheer our boys into the ALCS. 2017 had been such a magical season for the Cleveland Indians, I felt so sure that magic would carry us right back to the World Series—and I know I wasn’t alone in that belief.
That feeling of assurance proved to be fleeting, though, after a single shot from Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorious sucked the air out of the stadium, and the energy out of the crowd, in the top of the first. From that moment, the rest of the game just felt… out of reach. Like we were out of it before we ever stepped up to the plate.
I honestly never expected the Indians to fall to New York. I felt like getting to the World Series was given, and I completely overlooked that first round of the MLB postseason. And then, unthinkably, we lost… and I didn’t know how to feel.
It’s been a week, and I still don’t know. I’m disappointed and frustrated, but mostly I’m just numb. I’m certainly not over it, and I don’t think I will be anytime soon. Hell, I’m still processing the 2016 World Series, so this season’s abrupt and unexpected ending does not bode well for me.
In the meantime, Cleveland, we have the Cavaliers to cheer for (and the Browns, too, if you’re still into that sort of thing). And we have the days to count down until pitchers and catchers report. Here’s hoping it goes quickly, and that we all feel OK soon.