Monday, January 29, 2007

Livingston's war of words

Perhaps it has recently sunk in to the aging skull of The Plain Dealer's Bill Livingston: In all likelihood, he's going to look like a dope come June.

It was Livingston who predicted that the Cavaliers would win the NBA title this season, sticking by his flight-of-fancy prediction prior to last season. But the Cavs, at 25-19, look like a playoff team and nothing more at the moment.

It looks like Livingston will have some yolk to wipe off his face this spring. Of course, in maintaining the highest standards of journalistic integrity that would be expected of a long-tenured sports columnist such as himself, Livingston is apparently dealing with that by:

A) Humbly admitting he overestimated the team.
B) Defiantly sticking to his guns and maintaining his prediction.
C) Throwing the Cavs under the bus several times a week.

If you know the only-man-in-this-town-aging-faster-than-Eric-Snow Livingston that we've all come to know and love, you'll realize the only correct answer would be C.

That well-proportioned man in the Tower City RTA terminal? That's Livingston, who threw the Cavs under the bus and is now waiting to throw them under a rapid train. Next stop: The tarmac at Hopkins International Airport.

Ever since the Ohio State football season was unceremoniously ended three weeks ago, Livingston has come to the realization that his gutsy Cavs prediction is withering on the vine, and has proceeded to tell the entire organization that they suck, top to bottom, in no uncertain terms.

In the past several weeks, Livingston has torched announcer Fred McLeod (and by extension Dan Gilbert), Larry Hughes, Mike Brown, and Monday, this little Cleveland.com gem on Danny Ferry (scroll down if you click on the link).

Livingston does bring up a few good points about Ferry and Hughes, but why is he relentlessly dumping on them all of a sudden right now? The column on McLeod was day-late, dollar-short grumbling about a move that was made six months ago. That column belonged on a blog somewhere out this way, not in the newspaper.

Come to think of it, most of Livingston's columns concerning the Cavs have been a day late and dollar short, finding fault with long-term moves based on whatever has occurred in the previous several weeks.

It's easy to make a case that the Cavs are bumbling buffoons when they've lost eight of 10. The real debate-team winner can still make that case when they've won eight of 10. But I doubt Livingston would be backing his argument if that were the case. More than likely, he'd be writing poetic columns about scraped hands and scuffed leather balls on the Texas playground courts of his youth.

Livingston is basically a down-to-earth writer. At times, he can be an excellent wordsmith. But too often, he governs his columns based on the popular opinion of the masses. Any politician will tell you that's a bad idea.

Right after Ohio State was blown out of Glendale, Ariz., Livingston eloquently rebuked some fellow media members for suggesting that the Buckeyes lost because there were "too many Cleveland players on the team."

He said, in so many words, that the Cleveland media needs to stop feeding the fans' perception that the city is star-crossed. He called for Clevelanders to stop pity-partying and end their perpetual dance with misery.

But ever since that column, he has become the exact type of sulking, negativity-spewing Cleveland media member he was chastising in the postmortem Ohio State piece.

I'm all for being realistic. The reality is that the Cavs are not a title-contending ballclub. Not yet. But sometimes, especially in this town, the line between realism and rampant pessimism becomes seriously blurred. That's what Livingston is doing right now with his needlessly-protracted assault on the Cavs.

He is doing nothing but adding to the negative inertia that is already choking the sports culture of this once-proud city.

1 comment:

Joel said...

Not that I disagree with your premise, but someone needs to light a fire underneath these guys' asses.

I love Mike Brown's logic. Play Sasha Pavlovic 0 minuets against Phoenix, then start him against the Warriors.

Dude looks like an idiot.