Thursday, May 13, 2010

Signs of spring: when the winds of bitter blow off of Lake Erie

Cleveland Ohio

The Cavs aren't the only ones in a must-win situation in Game 6 of the NBA playoffs tonight.
Cleveland - the city itself, as well as the sports teams - is always in a must-win.

The sports teams always find a way to blow it, whether it is their own fault (the Fumble), someone else's fault (John Elway, Michael Jordan, Art Modell) or just the fault of bad geography, bad economy or bad juju.

Should they lose to the Celtics tonight, this will - sadly - go down as LeBron James' fault. James, soon to be a free agent, just might be playing for the Knicks next season, and Clevelanders will be griping and moaning about this year's playoffs for a good 12 months, maybe even 12 years.

LeBron James

No pressure, Dude. But score 40 points tonight, m'kay?

To be a Clevelander - I was raised there, my family still lives there, and I remain a loyal fan - is to never forget. In Cleveland, they love anniversaries. There are so many ways to look back at the spectacular failures. It's been over 20 years since Earnest Byner dropped the ball. Let's rehash it in the Cleveland Plain Dealer! Did you forget that Art Modell hijacked the Browns to Baltimore? Let's discuss it on sports talk radio for 10 freaking years!

I was visiting two weeks ago, and the Plain Dealer had a four page retrospective of the Kent State shootings (OK, that's legit). Last year, it was an expose on the dark moment people can't seem to forget, when the Cuyahoga River caught on fire.

I swear there was also a story a while back about how it has been 10 years since the Flats - the creaky riverside industrial area turned riverwalky nightspot - was revitalized, fell on hard times, and was angling to be revitalized again. It is a revitalization of the revitalization project that was put in place to revitalize the neighborhood!

It is a metaphor for the city in general.

Here is Plain Dealer Metro columnist Regina Brett in today's paper:

Go Cavs! But stay, LeBron. Please. I'm not above begging.

Why do we want you to stay?

The drive.

The fumble.

The shot.

Red right 88.

Game 7.

1964. That's the last time this city won a championship. We're the most tortured sports town in America. Ease our pain.

Wow. That's an extremely effective use of Cleveland woes. She doesn't even need to elaborate on them. This is a city that is down to one-word descriptions of suffering. Otherwise, it is exhausting trying to keep up.

"On a field strewn with the debris of ill will." OMG. Twenty-fifth anniversary special next year!

In the name of Lou "The Toe" Groza, the Cleveland Spiders and Jim Brown, just win something already.

If they lose tonight, LeBron might leave. Then things will remain exactly the same: Unemployment in the double digits; a downtown constantly allegedly on the brink of becoming something big; craptastic weather from November to May; boarded-up strip malls; climbing foreclosure rates; more discussion on how Cleveland came "this" close; and the hope that the Browns maybe, maybe, maybe can make the playoffs this year.

That's hope, and that's the one thing that Cleveland leads the league, as well as the Rust Belt.

Otherwise, check back here next year for a one-year retrospective on "the elbow." Sigh.

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