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Confessing My Sports Fan Sins: While We’re Waiting…

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It’s Thursday, readers. I hope you’re having a glorious one. Sports! Cleveland! Winning? Opinion and supporting factual information! Am I right? The Browns are continuing their top-secret covert disinformation campaign heading into the NFL Draft, the Indians are playing reasonably well to start the season (in Puerto Rico, no less), and despite a win on Wednesday, Cleveland fans are still waiting on the Non-LeBron Cavaliers to round into postseason form. While we’re waiting…

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in the midst of what has been an indelibly exciting playoff series with the Washington Capitals. The Blue Jackets lead the series 2-1, with the road team winning all three games and one goal deciding all three games in overtime. If you’re not familiar with hockey overtime, it’s the sporting equivalent of walking across a tightrope over a pit of crocodiles while holding a basket of hand grenades with the pins removed. With each step and every tilt toward one side of the tightrope, the game is never more than an inch away from catastrophe and annihilation. It’s agony. I’m more nervous for the hockey players in playoff overtime than I am for the sexually active teenagers in slasher horror movies.

Given that excitement, I really want to support the Columbus Blue Jackets. I’ve always yearned to have an NHL team worth supporting since I attended games of the IHL’s Cleveland Lumberjacks when I was a child. But Cleveland never had the hockey team it deserved and the Blue Jackets didn’t exist until the year 2000, and then they spent most of that existence being bad. When I lived in Columbus for four years, I didn’t attend Blue Jackets games because I was poor, and my only hockey opinions were that Red Wings fans were pests because they grew up front-runners and would invade the Arena District in Columbus whenever they visited Columbus to play the Blue Jackets.1

But here’s the thing: that’s no excuse. I’ve been a lousy hockey fan. And now I have the temerity, nay the gall to be a Blue Jackets bandwagon-jumper and hockey fan? Just because I think it will be “fun” to root for a good hockey team in the frenzied, coked-up madness that is playoff hockey?

It doesn’t seem fair to let me be a Blue Jackets fan. I didn’t “earn it” in old-timer blue-collar rub-some-dirt-on-it sports-fan parlance. But it also doesn’t seem fair (or productive) to disqualify me from permanent hockey fandom just because I didn’t have enough loot to go to Blue Jackets game when I was a poor college student, or to penalize me for never having a hockey team in which to believe. I’ve been a loyal, devout fan in many other ways. But I’m not perfect. Who among us is?

We have all been bad fans, and we were all (depending on your existential view of creation and theory of original fan sin) born bad fans. We’ve ALL jumped on bandwagons, criticized good coaches, ranted about things outside our limited expertise, speculated wildly without knowing the facts, turned off games only to turn them back on when the team comes back, pouted when teams didn’t give maximum effort, left early to beat traffic, complained when players didn’t risk injury in a pointless regular season game, jeered someone for not being able to accomplish a nearly impossible athletic feat with a 100 percent success rate, taken metaphorical rhetorical dumps on great players who have given more in blood and tears to their teams than I would ever entertain giving for my employer, and we have ALL vowed at least once to never watch another Cleveland Browns game for as long as we shall live.

Let he or she whom is without sin shout the first boo.

In some religions, their belief system permits adherents to confess their wrongs in exchange for redemption, forgiveness, heaven tokens, or some other profound spiritual concept beyond my comprehension. For some of us, sports are the closest thing we have to religion. So, I feel it necessary to here confess some of my recent and past transgressions against sport, and plead forgiveness from deities, athletes, fans, readers, and the Nevada Gaming Commission alike. I would encourage readers to do the same, should their religious and sports belief systems permit. Let today be #ConfessYourSportsSins Day.2

  • First confession: I’ve been a terrible hockey fan. I never watch Columbus Blue Jackets games. I didn’t attend a Blue Jackets game until the year 2017. In my defense, I was poor in college, the Blue Jackets were mostly bad, and honestly who has time for regular season hockey? But still, I’ve been a terrible hockey fan. Please forgive me, because I really really really want to jump on the Blue Jackets playoff bandwagon … for this season and every season they’re good.
  • I’ve been a bad Browns fan. I don’t think I watched more than one full game of the Cleveland Browns in 2017. I would usually have it on in the background while I napped or did chores, checking in only to make sure there was no sign of hope — like repeatedly checking a corpse’s pulse to ensure it didn’t unexpectedly spring back to life. Occasionally I would avoid the Browns altogether, using my time to pursue hobbies or do anything that brought me any discernible pleasure. I think I actually hate them.
  • I’ve been a bad Ohio State football fan. All the team does is win 10-to-14 games every season, and I still whine and moan because what, the play-calling doesn’t live up to my extraordinarily unfair and avaricious expectations? I wanted to bench a quarterback who produced like 300 touchdowns and a gazillion yards. I mean, he did have a limited skillset and would not have won against Alabama and Oregon in 2015, but STILL. I’m a spoiled, greedy jerk. I’m sorry.
  • I’ve been a bad Indians fan. I don’t pay for MLB Extra Innings, even though I pay for NBA League Pass and NFL Sunday Ticket.3 I’m generally satisfied reviewing the box scores after games, watching updates on MLB GameDay, and catching the occasional nationally televised game. I think regular season baseball is best used as background noise for yard work to distract my wandering mind from genuinely introspective self-evaluation, reliving the exact moment it went wrong with all my exes or conversing with the imaginary ghost of Abraham Lincoln. I really only care about the playoffs. Please forgive me, Indians.
  • I’ve been a bad Cavaliers fan. Even though I watched pieces of nearly all 82 games, I missed a few and watched only the second half of many others. If I missed a live game, I would often cheat and check the score, skipping the game if I knew it was only going to upset me. I should have watched all the games, even if I’ve been told that the NBA regular season doesn’t matter and that it may even be an elaborate figment of our collective unconscious.
  • I’ve been a bad Ohio State basketball fan. I didn’t watch any games until the NCAA Tournament — not even that awesome win over Michigan State. It’s just … college basketball is such an inferior product to the NBA. They can’t hit open shots with regularity and lack the skill to exploit mistakes like NBA teams. I don’t have time to follow college basketball anymore. Did you read the part about all the Cavs game I watched? Plus, college basketball is such a corrupt cesspool of– but I digress. Please forgive me.
  • I’ve been a bad baseball fan. I don’t follow anything outside of my own team. I once captained the WORST fantasy baseball team of all time. I think I lost every game, but I can’t say for certain … I quit checking and changing my lineups in July.
  • I’m in denial that Isaiah Thomas ever played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that the Cavaliers were complicit with the Celtics in ruining Thomas’s career and costing him $100 million, and that the Cavaliers omitted material details about Kyrie Irving’s long-term health when they traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics. This seems wrong to me, but I’ll leave it to the grace of the readers.
  • I’ve been a bad football fan. I don’t have the energy or courage to care about the NFL Draft anymore. The extent of my opinion is, “Just don’t screw it up, Browns.” What am I going to do, watch a bunch of film and become like, emotionally invested in someone the Browns either won’t pick, will spiritually destroy, or will trade in two years for a fourth-round pick? But I’ve sinned. Please forgive me.
  • I haven’t been good enough to LeBron James. I was a POS when he left Cleveland. Which … can you blame him? Boobie Gibson? That’s the best you’ve got, Cavs? Plus that’s like … his life, man. He wanted to play for a historically awesome team in a fantastic party city where it’s nice in the wintertime. He’s one of the best athletes in American sports history and I haven’t appreciated him enough. I also wrote and said nasty things about fans in Miami. Some of it’s probably still on the internet somewhere. I have a lot of regrets.
  • I think I missed the opening kickoff of every Ohio State game in college — at least 90 percent of them. Hey, my time management skills were weak and you try eating an entire Catfish Biff’s pizza twenty minutes before a noon kickoff against Eastern Michigan.
  • I wrote off the Cavs a lot in 2015 and 2016. They made the Finals both years and won a championship in 2016. It’s my fault Kyrie Irving’s kneecap busted and they lost in 2015. I’m sorry.
  • I’ve been a bad sports blogger. I haven’t been writing nearly enough, especially about the Cavaliers, even though not that many people read my posts about them. Anyway, my apologies for the half-dozen or so people I’ve disappointed.
  • I went to an Indians game last year and didn’t really watch it. I just stood at The Corner, drank beers, and cracked jokes with people.
  • I skipped Game 82 of the Cavs’ season to go see The Quiet Place with a girl. It wasn’t even that good.
  • I pounded a bunch of IPAs at the 2017 Fiesta Bowl and tweeted about not giving the ball to Mike Weber enough as Ohio State lost 31-0 to Clemson. There’s not much to be sorry about, but it was sloppy fandom nonetheless.
  • Yes, I’ve gambled against the Browns. I’m not really sorry, but please forgive me anyway.
  • I would sell weapons-grade uranium-235 to nefarious people with truly evil intentions if in return they just made Jeff Green stop shooting above-the-break threes. Granted, that’s not even a bad sports thing, that’s just a bad real-life thing. I’m a bad person. Please forgive me.
  • I only watch track and field in the Olympics and soccer in the World Cup. I think that’s kind of like the “envy” of sports sins, though. Everyone does that one.
  • I once smoked a cigarette in the stairwell at Ohio Stadium. Wait, never mind. That one’s awesome.
  • I hated the following athletes and coaches an irrational amount for no good reason whatsoever, like in arbitrary ways that I often couldn’t even explain with words: Paul Shuey, Derek Anderson, Jeff Green, Braylon Edwards, J.T. Barrett, Eric Wedge, Quincy Morgan, Anthony Parker, Jeff Green, Lydell Ross, Pat Shurmur, Cameron Erving, Derrick Rose, Jeff Green, Joe Borowski, Leon Powe, Eric Plunk, Todd Boeckman, Richie Sexson, Jeff Green, and, most of all, Alonzo Gee. Like, why did I hate Paul Shuey? He was actually pretty good. I said mean things. Please forgive me.

Whew. That feels good, my friends. As you can see, I am both a bad fan and a bad person. Not only do I hope this confession cleanses my sports soul in areas I have done wrong, but I hope it restores my credibility in areas of sport in which I feel my fandom has merit. I would urge some local media members and Twitter personalities to confess things as well — for instance, fundamentally misunderstanding multiple sports and their basic, underlying concepts — so that we may finally forgive them. But alas, it is not my place to judge. Anyway, do I now have permission to jump on the Blue Jackets bandwagon?

The Calvin and Hobbes Strip of the Day. Ahh, panic, the great fuel powering any inspired creative moment.

And now for the random 90s song of the day. Unless you’ve taken insincere hipster superiority to its extremes, no 90s alt-rock discography is credible without some Pavement — unless you just have an exclusive preference for lead singer Stephen Malkmus’ other indie rock act, the Silver Jews. From the 1994 classic Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair” was probably the closest the band came to mainstream billboard success.

Which makes it fitting that “Cut Your Hair” is a critique of the music industry. What starts as a ridicule of a girl desiring a haircut to please a boy quickly pivots to a mockery of record industry demands to cut long hair to fetch attention. My favorite part of the music video is a tie between: 1. When drummer Steve West4 semi-curtsies over to an overturned coffee table to turn it upright; and 2. When the guy5 sneezes a cat. The lyric, “The second drummer drowned / His telephone is found” is supposedly a joke about drummer Bob Nastanovich turning silent without warning while talking on the phone in the bathtub while drunk. I used to think Malkmus was repeating “Korea” at the end of the song, comparing selling out to corporate music phoniness to a global diplomatic quagmire. I think he’s actually saying, “career.” Which makes more sense.

Music scene’s crazy
Bands start up each and every day
I saw another one just the other day
A special new band

  1. Sorry fellow WFNY writer and Red Wings fan, Andrew Schnitkey. []
  2. I assume that somewhere on the internet, this bit has been done before. But I haven’t seen it. If this is hack or intellectual property theft, I apologize. []
  3. But only after bargaining with DirecTV to knock it down to $100. I’m loyal, not crazy. []
  4. I think. []
  5. Mark Ibold. []