The week leading up to the start of the NFL regular season has provided Cleveland with a stark juxtaposition in terms of words, delivery and ultimate reaction. As a handful of our nation’s best orators take to the stage in Charlotte, North Carolina 1 , amidst the pomp and circumstance and Springsteen, those sequestered in Cleveland, Ohio have felt words, albeit more regionalized, reverberate though the airwaves and jump off of the pages.
Indians closer Chris Perez kicked things off by providing his latest fact-based hay-maker, responding to a reporter in search for the quotable goldmine that has been the non-filtered right-hander, attacking the economics of the game which he plays while managing to two-hand toss both his general manager and ownership team into the fire as their lakefront Rome continues to burn.
“Different owners,” said Perez of the difference between the small-market Indians and small-market Detroit Tigers. “It comes down to that. They (the Tigers) are spending money. He (Ilitch) wants to win. Even when the economy was down (in Detroit), he spent money. He’s got a team to show for it. You get what you pay for in baseball. Sometimes you don’t. But most of the time you do.”
Just days later, we find ourselves dealing with the passing of the most polarizing man in the history of Cleveland sports; Art Modell’s passing provided such a wide range of emotion and analysis that it’s more than a day later and people are still waxing on about what his legacy means to them and them alone.
But just like the national scale of the various conventions that have taken place leading into November, it will be the next steps which are discussed and speculated upon. The fallout. The butterfly effects. What will the Indians front office do with their arbitration-eligible All-Star closer? As they continue to say that their primary goal is to build a better team in what is their contention window, would they trade a player away for being honest? A bit of a distraction, sure, but has anyone been able to debate anything that was said earlier this week? The team states that any penance will be handled internally, but if the closer is shopped this off-season, it is a sure sign that pride is the chief currency on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario 2 .
A trade of Perez could net the team a prospect or two, but with a front office that has a reputation for taking less than full asking price in the trade market, would this team honestly be better off, talent wise, without their All-Star closer? After all, all of this (non) wheeling and dealing is all about fielding the best team possible.
Following the passing of his father, David Modell gave no mention of Art’s legacy in Cleveland. Portrayed as a hero by select national types and most Baltimorians, the majority of Modell-based reports contained quotes which were rooted in the man’s decision to move the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore.
“I leave my heart and part of my soul in Cleveland,” Modell said during the move. ”But frankly, it came down to a simple proposition: I had no choice.”
“I have a great legacy, tarnished somewhat by the move,” Modell later said in 1999. “The politicians and the bureaucrats saw fit to cover their own rear ends by blaming it on me.”
But where does this leave the new Cleveland Browns? The version that filled Municipal Stadium on countless Sundays won a Vince Lombardi trophy while wearing that dreadful purple and black and double-homicide red 3 doing so under one of our own in Ozzie Newsome. The NFL could levy league-wide moment of silence, or even flags flown shy of the summit, but the city of Cleveland had a three-year moment when no football was being played — no fans congregated, no whistles were blown, no cochlea-rattling music was played before or during the actual games.
Some can say that the Browns should “do the right thing” by honoring the recently deceased contributor. Is setting the paying fans up for nationwide mockery the “right thing?” As I mentioned on Twitter Thursday morning, the instant reaction of many outside of Cleveland was to set the sites on the wounded. “Congratulations, Cleveland,” said one national writer, doing so in a completely unsolicited manner. It’s then in this same breath where Clevelandersare told to “get over it.” If a mandatory moment of silence is in fact cast upon the 32 teams, which stadium do you think will be the focus of FOX Sports and ESPN? The one that was neglected by the son of the man to whom we would be paying respect 4 .
The end goal is winning: both presidential candidates, Chris Perez and the Cleveland Browns. All of the ancillary, needle-moving public relation items are merely the cost of doing business. In the world of Point As and Point Bs, it’s often the path taken that gets the most attention. The next 48 hours for the Browns coupled with the next four months for the Indians will undoubtedly be highly scrutinized. Often times, one cannot win regardless of their decisions. All of the involved parties, however, have to hope that these are one of those rare occasions.
(Photo: Chuck Crow/PD)
- This is by no means a political admission, it just fits in the time frame being used. Save it. [back]
- Especially considering that the team continues to refute all Forbes reports on their actual currency [back]
- Yes, I know this alleged incident happened one night after the actual Super Bowl. Poetic license. [back]
- And don’t even get me started on the Hall of Fame potential [back]