Yesterday was another one of those angsty days for Cleveland Sports Twitter. Amid the rumors of Cavs coaching options, Dan Gilbert’s potential continued middling and the unknown nature of the No. 1 overall pick, some of my friends and close contacts were getting pretty depressed about their Cavs fandom. Perhaps it was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but it got me thinking.
In just less than three months, I’ll be moving out to the University of Oregon for grad school. Unlike my entire life so far in Ohio, I’ll have very few Northeast Ohio friends to commiserate with about Cleveland sports. Out in Eugene, I’ll be the “token Cleveland guy.” It’ll be difficult to watch every single Indians, Cavs and Browns game because of school and TV. And it might be hard to care so much, so passionately anymore.
It’s been a tough year to be a diehard Cleveland sports fan, no doubt. A perfect example might be my memory of February 1st, after the infamous report about Luol Deng in the New York Daily News and before another horrific Cavs loss. That day, I created a little Storify about how all of the madness exemplified the sadness of Cleveland sports.
I then wrote an email to the WFNY gang: “Zach Lowe’s non-fandom is looking mighty appealing right now.” Lowe, the outstanding Grantland writer, had just written an article on the practical end of his diehard Celtics fandom. It was between 2010 and 2011, as he transitioned to the full-time NBA beat and just stopped caring emotionally about the Garnett-Pierce run of the Celtics. Fandom flared up, as it did for the game that sparked his column, but that was that.
WFNY readers might also recall the epic While We’re Waiting from Denny Mayo in March. I really enjoyed reading that. Denny, Brendan Porath and I all joined the WFNY staff in spring 2009 as the first batch of weekend writers. Denny’s been an emeritus guy for a few years now, but that post shared how he’s become disenfranchised a bit with all of the oddities and contradictions of fandom. Now, he just casually enjoys his Buckeyes and that’s mostly it.
For me, I didn’t really watch “that much” sports as an undergrad in Dayton. It was a neat thing to write about and analyze, but it wasn’t that much of an obsession. That’s perhaps what it will be like for me in grad school, too. I’ll always take pride in my hometown and the teams I’ve grown up with. That won’t ever change. But will I need to worry intensely about every Indians score or every man on the Browns roster? Nah, that’s OK.
Terry Pluto’s adage about “never let millionaire athletes ruin your day” fits well here. My main purpose is just to share with you all, the lovely readers of WFNY, a half-concern and half-confession wondering if I’ve found it all that enjoyable to be so intensely concerned about all of these teams so constantly.
This goes back to the Cavs. If they draft Jabari Parker at No. 1, would I be upset? Eh. If I could know with concrete certainty that Parker is clearly worse long-term than Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, then maybe. But I don’t know that necessarily. There’s always going to be uncertainty and possibilities in life that Parker might end up being the best prospect in this draft. Does he have worse odds of being a superstar? Perhaps. I just don’t know with certainty. The Cavs will continue to make their obscure decisions as they do so well.
At the Sloan Conference, I remember being a bit distraught again about the Cavs and their odd roster construction. That article led to my piece on the Cavaliers and analytics, trying to logically explain the team’s philosophy. Why have they taken no centers? Why have them seemed to not like shooters at all? Why did they think any of the things they’ve done were good ideas? Does there have to be answers?
From an analytics and evaluation perspective, that will be always be interesting to me. I’ll always write, here at WFNY and some various other places in the future. I’ll usually be able to find a new and interesting angle. Heck, I’m going to school for a sports business MBA, so sports in general always will remain a gigantic passion of mine. But it’s just difficult to care so wholeheartedly about the constant ups and downs of these teams. I’d just move on, enjoy grad school, enjoy real life things out in Oregon and perhaps analyze more of why we do this to ourselves from a business perspective.
So for me, Cleveland sports is about pride. It’s about being knowledgeable of my hometown teams and their histories. These teams are always going to be the ones I root for. But there’s a difference between rooting and pride, and obsession and sadness. I’ve been so inundated with the details of Cleveland sports for years and here’s a little hopeful maybe goodbye from some of the negatives of that passion. I don’t know exactly what that means yet.
Tweets of the week: As usual, here are then some of my favorite recent tweets from following along on Cleveland Sports Twitter.
The entire AL Central is separated by just 3.5 games. Has an entire division been that close this far into a season before???
— Let's Go Tribe (@LetsGoTribe) June 12, 2014
Realized today the Indians had 12 picks in the top ten rounds. They took 6 hitters, 4 left handed other two switch hitters. Not one righty
— jeff ellis (@jeffMLBdraft) June 11, 2014
Don't you see???? Mark Price was interviewed on Taco Tuesday!!! This is going to happen!!!! #CavsTacos
— WayneEmbrysKids (@WayneEmbrysKids) June 11, 2014
Also it's why you don't make grand pronouncements (of success or failure) based on half a season. A lesson we seemingly must always relearn.
— Jon (@WFNYJon) June 8, 2014
I think one thing Cavs fans tend to underestimate is simply just competing. It’s a “title or bust” mentality when the NBA is not like that.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) June 5, 2014