April 20, 2014

Rob Chudzinski and how saying the right things can still feel wrong

595 lladro Chud

When I was a freshman in high school way back in the spring of 1994, I took a school trip to Spain. When I heard yesterday’s comments from Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski—about the future and playoffs—I couldn’t stop thinking about that trip and one thing in particular: Lladró. It’s very random. and of course I will explain, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Lladró. For those not in the know, Lladró are little porcelain figurines made in Spain. There are holiday themed ones, little kids, animals, ballerinas and all kinds of various figures available for purchase. There are different collections and series and people collect them and display them in their homes, more often than not protected behind glass in a curio cabinet of some sort.

Prior to leaving for Spain, our group went over the itinerary—we would be visiting places like Madrid, Sevilla, Toledo and Costa del Sol—and my teacher talked about Lladró and what they were and the different places they could be purchased. It was less costly to buy these figurines in Spain and bring them back than it was to order them and have them shipped. I listened and took it in, but I could not have cared much less about pretty little figures that should sit behind glass in one of those stuffy rooms in a house that nobody is supposed to really live in. I think I was 15 at the time of the trip, so this is understandable.

The Words of Chud                 

“We won’t stand for losing.”
“We made too many critical mistakes we were not
able to overcome today. We won’t stand for losing.
We’re going to get this fixed; it’s unacceptable.”

“We have to play better in all three phases.”
“I’m disappointed in our performance as a team.
We have to play better in all three phases. Our
veterans have to play better, our young guys have
to play better and it needs to happen right away.”

“I feel good about our identity.”
“I feel good about how we’re building a culture and
identity here. That doesn’t happen overnight; it takes
time. …  I think that the fans are seeing that, are
appreciating how we play.”

In all, I think there were seven or eight students plus our Spanish teacher. It was a great trip and the teacher who took us there was a nice person. But this trip was two weeks long and as anyone who has traveled in a group can attest, it’s nearly impossible to travel for that long and not end up grating on each other’s nerves. A slow, steady minor grating occurred.

As we landed in Madrid, there was talk of Lladró. Toledo? More Lladró talk. It wasn’t just the word Lladró, but the way it was spoken. It was being pronounced with a precise Spanish1, but when an American says Spanish words a little too perfectly with the rest of the words around it sounding American-ized it’s really kind of annoying. It’s why people despise Alex Trebek’s pronunciation of ethnic words on Jeopardy. Imagine Trebek speaking the word “Lladró” four times in a single Jeopardy answer. You’d want to reach through your television and stuff a sock in his mouth.

I don’t think a day went by that we didn’t hear about Lladró, to the point that the word itself was starting to have a really negative connotation among the students. We liked the teacher and supported the search for Lladró, but we just didn’t care.

Finally, as we were traveling across the Spanish countryside on a bus feeling tired and hot, my teacher said the word “Lladró” one too many times and the entire group of us must have collectively rolled our eyes. The teacher became annoyed and defensive, saying, “What?!? What did I say?” No one would respond as everyone simply tried to fast-forward time. I pretended as if I had never even been part of the conversation with my Discman and headphones on. Eventually, somehow, the moment passed.

It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with Lladró or the teacher or even any of us students. It was just the whole situation how it developed.

Yesterday, when Rob Chudzinski’s statements included phrases like, “long-term plan for sustained success,” and “our best days are ahead of us,” and “it is a bright future here in Cleveland,” all I could do was roll my eyes.

There’s nothing wrong with Chud saying those things, of course. I support him in his pursuit of them. It’s not even necessarily his fault because this is his first time saying these types of clichés to us. it’s just that we have heard them so many times before that it’s starting to sound like Alex Trebek repeating the word “biblioteca” over and over, complete with his linguistically infuriating over-pronunciation.

Chud continued, of course. “Our goal is always going to be to win a championship.”

And again. “Our goal is always going to be to make the playoffs. As far as expectations, as I’ve mentioned, the things that I expect are to see us working and moving in that direction and making the progress that I know needs to get done in order to get to those points and being able to do that.”

I thought of Lladró. I think I’ll just turn up my headphones now and hope the moment passes.

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. YAH-dro. []

  • 240

    I guess explaining how hard it is to win games/playoff games/championships with 3 different quarterbacks will commence again.

  • Denny

    Yes but it will be explained in Spanish.

  • LesFleursDuMal

    Pinche jefe…

  • MrCleaveland

    1. Craig, that was a long way to go to get to Chud, but I stayed with it because you’re a pretty good writer.

    2. Chud’s going to lose something if he keeps ladling out the robo-pap in heaping helpings. Talk to us like a real person, Chud.

    3. Were you able to get a Cleveland Browns Lladro?

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I just think it’s funny that you tagged the word “discman” for this post.

  • Denny

    “Cleveland Browns Lladro” is the grossest euphemism

  • Bob

    ¿Por qué?

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    I smiled to myself when I did it too. Ha.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    Appreciate it. I had lunch with a buddy today who hadn’t read my post yet, and he was saying to me that Chud’s presser was like effing Groundhog’s Day for him and that Chud should have known better.

  • Webster

    I was almost going to ask “what do you expect him to say?” but then realized that what Chud says is pretty spot on to our (well, mine, at least) expectations for an NFL head coach.

    The better question is, “what do you want him to say?” And I’m not asking this in the snarky, dismissive manner in which it’s usually presented. I’m honestly curious what people think because I can’t even answer it for myself.
    I have no idea what the rookie head coach of a perennial doormat could say at the end of yet another disappointing season that would inspire confidence in the fanbase. Anyone?

  • whosevelt

    So this is where we’re at, eh? Yeah, I agree.

  • whosevelt

    Our major expectations for him don’t involve saying things, they involve doing things.

  • Webster

    He’s contractually obligated to say things every week, I’m talking about what we want out of that. I can’t think of what I would want because I agree with you – only results will build confidence at this point.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    “There’s nothing wrong with Chud saying those things, of course.”
    you say there’s nothing wrong with chud’s bromides. and we all accept being spun as a fact of life. but it is wrong and we shouldn’t accept it.

    e.g., “We won’t stand for losing. We’re going to get this fixed; it’s unacceptable.”

    what does unacceptable mean? has some been fired? pay cut? ran laps? absent a repercussion it is, by definition, acceptable since it has been accepted.

    AND THAT’S OK.

    no one expects to win every game and given the offseason maneuvers of joe banner it would be unreasonable to expect more wins.

    but chud, spare us the tough talking, hard-as-nails, no-nonsense coachspeak. you look foolish when you say meaningless things. as mr. c says below: talk to us like we’re real people. [note: real people do not like to be spun.]

  • Steve_Not_Chad

    Lulz

  • Toddyus

    Here’s what I want to hear after a loss: “We’re still not winning. Until we do, there’s nothing else I can say. See you next week.”

    Here’s what I want to hear after a win: “We’re still not winning consistently. Until we do, there’s nothing else I can say. See you next week.”

    Here’s what I want to hear when we make the playoffs: “We still haven’t won the Super Bowl yet. Until we do, there’s nothing else I can say. See you next week.”

    Here’s what I want to hear when we win the Super Bowl: “We’ve only won one Super Bowl. Until we string a few together, there’s nothing else I can say. See you next year.”

    When we start a championship dynasty, I want to hear: “You’re welcome. See you next year.”

  • Bluedog93

    There are several things I would like to hear Chud, or anyone else working for the Browns, say:

    1) “We went into this season expecting a certain amount of success on the playing field and we haven’t achieved it.”
    2) “Our goal is to win football games. We should have won more.”
    3) “I think that, if you look at the roster that was here when we came in, and look at how other teams in the NFL progress, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect us to have a winning record by our second season, and that means that if we don’t win more games than we lose in 2014, either the front office or coaching staff has failed. In the NFL, rebuilding doesn’t take forever.”
    4) “Given how Baltimore and Pittsburgh started the season, it sure looks like a playoff run was possible. They were able to come on stronger down the stretch; we weren’t.”
    5) “Sure, going through three quarterbacks hasn’t helped. But that’s a problem we partially caused, by starting with Weeden, then going back to him after Hoyer was injured, when all along it was obvious that he was, at best, the third best quarterback on the roster.”
    6) “Do I think that the constant churning of the bottom of the roster has hurt our special teams and cost us at least the New England game? What do you think? That the ability to recover an onside kick is innate and doesn’t need to be practiced regularly?”
    7) “Excuses are easy. We’re a 10-loss team. That’s what we are. There’s no reason why we couldn’t have been better without hurting our long-term plans. In fact, being better this year would have helped our long-term plans.”