Friday, July 07, 2006

Somebody understands

Someone out there gets what's happening in Cleveland. Ironically, it's a guy from Detroit.
In his latest column on, Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press sympathizes with Clevelanders over LeBron James' silence.
His contract offer will be a week old at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, and LeBron has yet to even offer a grunt of public acknowledgement, let alone make a decision.
What does it mean? What is he thinking? Is he yanking our chains? Is he wavering? Is he listening to everybody on both sides make their cases as to why he should or shouldn't sign?
Where will this all end up? Will this be another sorrowful chapter in the history of Cleveland sports?
As Rosenberg notes, in any other city, the fans would probably be content to ride this out and go about their daily lives without checking the Internet every 60 minutes for LeBron updates.
But this is Cleveland. As Rosenberg so aptly puts it in terms big-market fans can understand, "every team is the Cubs."
It's the bad luck of the Cubs. It's also a lack of money, poor personnel decisions and freak injuries.
Several weeks ago, I sent Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune an impassioned e-mail after he tried to stoke the "LeBron might want out of Cleveland" fires in one of his columns. I told him that he might just be a great player to Chicagoans, but to Clevelanders, he's far more. He is the embodiment of a chance at a championship.
Look at the Cleveland sports scene, I told him. It's way too early to tell if the Browns' latest rebuilding project will be a success, or yet another failure. The Indians are fighting an uphill financial battle they might never win.
That leaves the Cavs as the only solid hope for a championship anytime in the foreseeable future. If LeBron leaves, so do the chances of a title.
Chicago doesn't care if Cleveland goes 100 years without winning a title in any sport. We're almost halfway there already. If LeBron leaves, I told Smith, that could mean an entire generation of Clevelanders could be born, live full lives and die without ever having experienced a single championship in this town.
Smith's answer: "Wow, you need to relax. It's just sports."
And to an American visiting Iraq, it's just an election. Happens every year, right?
Smith doesn't get it. Not when he's in a city that's seen six NBA titles, a Super Bowl title and a World Series title in his lifetime. There's no way he can get it.
In a city where we've watched players, coaches and owners consistently fail, go on to another city and bring home the hardware, you can excuse Clevelanders if they can't totally shake this awful feeling that LeBron is somewhere trying to figure out the best way to say "I'm out of here in two years."
He's probably not. And yes, fans like me need to relax. But too often, our worst case scenario nightmares have come true in this town. The one time we exclude the worst case scenario is the one time it will come up and bite us.
So we wait, we worry, we hope that LeBron's silence doesn't mean what we fear it means.
And my thanks goes out to Michael Rosenberg for humoring us. We're kind of pathetic with our worrying in this town, but we have our reasons. Any big-market fan and media member who greets us with an encouraging pat on the back instead of a dismissive roll of the eyes is appreciated.

No comments: