Cleveland Sports

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.
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6rw2w2NNTs%5D
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)

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LA Kings Kisscam

I generally deplore forced public affection. Not that I dislike any public affection — I certainly engage in it myself, and I think it’s sweet to see people spontaneously showing their love for one another. But that’s just the thing: it’s sweet because it’s spontaneous. Thankfully, I’m with a dude that agrees with me — below is his reaction to when people started clinking on their glasses at our wedding reception.

After he shot out that look, we quickly kissed and there were no more calls to “KISS ALREADY,” thank god. (don’t even get me started on how incredibly cringeworthy I find big public proposals.)

But you guys, you guys: the LA Kings Kisscam from their Game 7 against San Jose last night might have turned me. Come for the insane sweetness of the David/Harper Beckham kiss at 1:09; stay for the hilarious kiss-a-thon at 0:33 where a lady kisses FIVE guys, but ends up shafting the guy behind her (not like that, ew); and finish strong with the adorable Kings uber-fans at 1:46 who apparently are a regular feature on the Kisscam. Aww indeed.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2f32zx0kjA%5D

PS Kings won! Go, Kings! Beat the Red Wings/Blackhawks!

(Photo by Stephanie Cristalli)

Magic Johnson and EJ(3!)

Living in LA, it can be hard to escape the presence of Magic Johnson — besides the fact that he’s obviously one of the greatest Lakers ever, he also owns a million companies, including a chain of movie theaters and, I swear, a TGIFridays that I see every time I drive home from the airport. Of course, most recently, the biggest purchase he’s been involved with is the LA Dodgers, a news item that highlighted how much people in general and Angelenos specifically seriously, SERIOUSLY love Magic.

And I get it, Magic is a great and really inspirational guy. But I don’t think I ever really had a strong opinion on him till I watched the below video, where he proves himself to be an incredible father and gay advocate. Some backstory: Magic’s son EJ(3!) was just “seen” stepping out with his boyfriend (aside: when you watch the video below, it’s hard not to realize that EJ’s TMZ moment — like so so many — was totally orchestrated in conjunction with some involvement from him, which is its own weird thing that I don’t even think is so sleazy any more (they’ve worn me down), but still a very strange part of the business of celebrity). A few days later, of course also on TMZ, a sit-down with Magic ensues where he talks more about EJ coming out (with Magic’s help!) and his support of his son. Obviously it’s savvy, great press for the whole Johnson family, but I don’t care — Magic as a proud dad makes me all snuggly inside:

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYFkPRN4pfs%5D

PS Another great, recent insider perspective on homophobia in sports, written by one of my favorite football players, Scott Fujita (who happens to play for the Cleveland Browns, hurrah!).

(Photo courtesy of Radar Online)

USC Football Status: Shut UP, Lane.

I went to my first Lakers game recently, which was also my first professional basketball game. And while it was definitely a fun experience, it confirmed to me that I’m just not a basketball person. I like to keep up on sports news in general, but basketball and baseball just aren’t my thing, man. Where are the sustained drives? The journeys? The strategy that changes from play to play, furiously scribbled down in playbooks that have tried to anticipate any of a million different outcomes?

So yes, I’m a football fan, and I already miss it even though it’s been less than a month since the Super Bowl and I was sick of bowl season by Jan 2. And I’m not just any sort of football fan: as an alumna, I’m a major USC backer, even taking into account the potential shenanigans, the sanctions, the 7-6 season. I’d really like to also say I’m a backer of Coach Lane Kiffin too…

BUT HE MAKES IT SO HARD WHEN HE WON’T SHUT HIS TRAP. (video autoplay on that page, ew)

Lane, SC fans don’t underappreciate Matt Barkley. I was at the Colorado game this season where he broke a crap-ton of records, and guess what? I am incredibly proud of him, as I am of all Trojans who find exemplary success in their chosen paths. You are basically being a stage mom here, and you are expressly NOT helping him; no NFL team is going to sign Matt based on your words, which, btw, are also a direct teardown of your own father’s defense. And if you’re not helping him, you’re pretty much hurting him. So please, I’m begging you: since every time you talk, you sound like a chump, JUST STOP. Maybe focus instead on doing your job, which is still — apparently — coaching my team.

PS I’m not sure Matt feels the same dedication to you.

(Top photo by me, bottom photo courtesy of WhoSay)