This clock. Oh, this clock. Let me backtrack for a moment.
I was born and bred in Cleveland. I’ve lived in a few different places since I left home, but Cleveland will always be in my blood. One of the ways in which I get reminded of that is EVERY SINGLE MAJOR SPORTS SEASON, which pretty much is year-round. Cleveland is famously bad at sports — the last major championships won were the Browns NFL Championship (this was PRE-Superbowl!) in 1964 and the Indians’ World Series in 1948. Someone who could reasonably say they remember the Indians winning the World Series would be around 70 years old now.
It’s not just that we don’t win, it’s that we don’t win in heartbreaking fashion — here’s a great infographic to illustrate the depth of our despair. One of the most (if not the most) gut-wrenching parts of our history is when the Browns left in 1995.
Cleveland was on an upswing in Fall 1995 — the world-famous, I. M. Pei-designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum had just opened its doors and the Indians had posted the best regular season record in baseball at 100-44 and subsequently made it to the World Series for the first time since 1954 (spoiler alert: they lost.). Then, on November 6, Browns owner Art Modell announced that it was no longer financially viable to keep the Browns in Cleveland. He was taking football, arguably the country’s most beloved sport, out of Cleveland. It would be four years before we’d have a new team, and even then, it was an expansion team — our team was leaving forever for Baltimore, where they’d become the Ravens. Yes, the Ravens, the team who drafted Ray Lewis the very next spring, won the Superbowl five years later, and have been in the playoffs seven times since then, culminating in last season, when they won the Superbowl for a SECOND time. It’s enough to make you vomit.
But you know what? We don’t do that. I mean, sure, grousing about sports is part of being a Clevelander, but the people we are? We temper it with a sneaking sense of hope and optimism, which brings me back to the clock. When football left Cleveland in its dust, this clock was installed at Tower City, our downtown mall. It was a countdown of how many days there were till football came back to us, and served as a reminder that as bad as it gets (and again, look at that infographic. It’s been BAD.), we’ll always keep looking forward.
Maybe this season will be the season, you never know, and we can’t give up. Cleveland fans don’t leave before the game’s over, which is way more than I can say for fans of other teams, including fans of my beloved USC Trojans, sorry to say. Of course Cleveland fans would love it if our teams would just friggin’ win more, or more to the point, win when it counts (the Indians seem to delight in playing their best baseball in the first month of the season, and then not making the playoffs). But we would also never ever abandon our team for a more winning one. Since leaving home, I’ve primarily lived in Seattle and LA, and when asked if I’ll root for those teams, my reply is always, “Sure, I’m totally a Mariners/Seahawks/Sonics (sorry, Seattle)/Dodgers/Lakers/Clippers fan, except when they’re playing Cleveland,” which, come on, is only fair.
So all of that is to say that when I saw this video this morning, I felt for this kid, but also felt a sense of disgust.
Cry your tears, kid, then buck up and stand by your goddamned team. It’s what we’d do in Cleveland, and it’s only right.
(Photo courtesy of The Cincinnati Enquirer)