For all the bluster in Cleveland about stick-to-it-ive perseverance, we’ve become fairly adept at pre-baking narratives of defeat into our sports fandom. Each year, and in every sport, we eventually get ourselves to the same point: The recognition that the team we are watching is not good enough, and that we should’ve seen it sooner than we did. Sucker-punched yet again by training camp kool-aid and spring training storylines. Repeat this loop of failure long enough and you get a group who is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. We replace hoping for the best with fearing for the worst with plain old awaiting the implosion. To be fair, we usually get it, so at least we look prescient when all’s said and done.
In football, there’s the mid-October mass-realization that—despite the biennial front-office and roster makeover—we are again watching what is essentially a five-win team.1 In the NBA, there’s the initial bargaining of “but this is only the second-third first year after Lebron left” coupled with the notion that “if only that guy who always gets injured didn’t get injured we could be a .500 team!” But eventually the reality sets in that the team is still at least another year and star away from anything resembling competence.2 And in baseball, we’ve been let down by the Indians in one way or another every year since at least the 1994 players strike, though we could certainly go back further if we felt like it. The Indians’ failures—both the nationally televised heart-crushing ones like blowing the World Series or a three-game lead in the ALCS as well as the banality of their recent August swoons—have become a part of us. It’s not if they’ll blow it, but how and when.
- I used to live on West Ninth St. and, week after week, I’d sit on my balcony and watch the fans leave the stadium. Week 1’s, “Hey, they’re not half-bad!” turns into Week 6’s “I was right—they’re all bad!” pretty quickly. Hey, at least everyone was drunk! [↩]
- This is to say nothing of the failures leading up to and including The Decision™. [↩]