I know I said earlier that the lack of national attention towards Cleveland is shitty, but I didn't think before I said that. I don't want the attention. I want it as far away as possible. I want to remain in the shadows where nobody sees us and we can do our thang without people jumping on the bandwagon, if you can even call it that. And do the Tribe even have a bandwagon? Has it gotten to that point? It's not like we're the Red Sox and all of a sudden women are now fans. Thank God. When you have women as fans you know you're team is a bandwagon team.
Now what's wrong with having people believe in you? How about everything essential to a true Clevelander (Clevelandite? Clevelandan?). We are not favorites. We are not lovable losers. We're moderately successful teams who just happen to have our hearts ripped out at the absolute worst times. It has nothing to do with superstition. Actually, it has everything to do with superstition. Everyone knows what we've been through. It's called sports hell and we're the 9th circle.
The problem is, Clevelanders have become conditioned to this heartbreak. It's kind of like developing a callous on your hands from dealing with hot shit all day. It's just believed that it's going to happen again. And why not? You'd think the law of averages would eventually throw us a bone, but no. We had the greatest offensive team of the last 25 years, a team that was damn near untouchable. Just think of the heavy hitters in that lineup through the years. Belle, Ramirez, Thome, Sexson, Giles, Alomars (plural, they both rocked), Lofton. Yet what happens? In the 1995 World Series, the greatest collection of offensive prowess gets FUCKING 2 HIT BY GOD DAMN TOM FUCKING GLAVINE AND HIS GOD DAMN FUCKING 85 MPH FASTBALL. Need I bring up such luminaries in Cleveland lore such as Jose Mesa? Or howabout a wonderful 6 inning relief performance by Pedro Martinez? I'm working up a sweat here.
The thing is, we don't need these lofty expectations. We don't want people to believe in us. Why? Because we know what lies ahead. We've traversed the barren minefields of sports hope. We've swam the shark infested waters of thinking, "this is our year." We've heard the prognosticators swoon over our lovely collection of athletic talent. And our reward for all this? Utter disappointment.
That's the road we're travelling. Do I think we can beat the Yankees? Abso-fucking-lutely. Do I believe we will beat the Yankees? Yea, but I'm not comfortable in the least. On paper, our pitching is superior, our bullpen is superior, we have a more versatile and speedy lineup, better defense, better strategy, better health and athleticism. But as my partner in crime so eloquently said in a phone call yesterday, "the Yankees are going to score at some point." We all know it's inevitable. The last thing we need is to believe that it's going to change because that's when the sucker punch comes.
I look at the playoffs like this. We got some national pub, played some tough games, even won a series or two. But I always look for the nadir, the apex, the point where it all declines. After LeBron's bukake in Detroit last year, I knew that was it, and I was happy with it. After Ohio State beat Michigan last year and went to the National Championship game, I still had hope, and what did I get for it? Pain.
The one exception to all this is 2002 and this is what we should look at for our model for success. Ohio State went into the Fiesta Bowl against a Miami team, that by all accounts, were playing their games a day early (for those of you who are retarded and can't follow poetic lisence, it means they should have all been in the NFL). I went into that game thinking, "let's just not get embarassed." THAT'S when we strike. Cleveland sports is like one of those snakes or spiders that sits under a rock by the side of a road and when some dumbass wearing Birkenstocks walks by, BAM, got you in the leg, pussy, with my sweet, sweet venom. That's exactly what happened with Miami. That's what happened with the Indians in 1995. That's what happened with the Cavs in Detroit. That's how the Indians overcame the terrible ownership of Rachel Phelps where a motley crew of outcasts led by Jake Taylor and Willy Mays Hayes won a one-game playoff against the New York Yankees. Expectations bring doom. Ignorance brings exaultation.
So when I read some hack writer on a sinking ship like Sports Illustrated says that the Indians are the 7th best team remaining in the playoffs I don't get upset. I rejoice. For this is a smarter man than most. He understands this dynamic. He understands that Cleveland needs odds to overcome. He is a modern day sports prophet who deserves a monument be erected out of fusili pasta. So I say, don't be upset that all you hear is Yanks and Sox. Attention brings disaster and the Tribe will rise from the ashes of the fallen titans. Our modest payroll and creative management will reap rewards far richer than any Clevelander under 60 will be able to comprehend. This is the year of destiny, and just because we're getting ignored doesn't mean it isn't our time, it affirms that it truly is.