He did it. LeBron James just wrote the greatest story imaginable in modern pro sports. To echo a common refrain about his infamous “Decision” to leave Cleveland for Miami in 2010, it’s not just that he ended Cleveland’s impossible 52-year championship drought, it’s the way that he did it.
A run-of-the-mill title run wouldn’t have cut it here. Not after five decades of sustained and regularly heart-wrenching failure that had given Cleveland fans every reason to be cynical about pro sports. Click to continue reading at Cleveland Scene
“Extraordinary people survive under the most terrible circumstances and they become more extraordinary because of it.” ― Robertson Davies
It would be understandable if people were thinking that there wouldn’t be a draft party this year. As the years pass, it keeps getting harder to see the NFL as anything other than the worst kind of brand exploitation, and this would be true even if the Browns could manage to show up as something other than a historic league-laughingstock. And even if one manages to look past the larger concerns, after the way last season went, and with Haslam’s newest strategy of throwing money at a bunch of Ivy-degreed technocrats who’ve stripped the roster down to expansion-era levels just in time to give the new quarterback a lifetime of Tim Couch PTSD-shakes, there still isn’t be a whole lot new to feel, think, or say about the orange helmets.
But as spectacularly as the Browns have failed to reach their potential as a community asset, football is still fun and the orange helmets still offer as much of a collective experience and memory as anything else. At least in this corner of the internet. Which itself is worth celebrating, not least because the lessons of Vanilla Sky and The Whore of Akron won’t soon be lost on us. Of course, if it weren’t for terrible things, there could never be anything great. And a hometown NFL franchise that’s an endless void of disappointment and despair is also a fine reminder that the possibilities for draft parties and everything else are theoretically limitless. Not to mention that this could be our last chance to get together in Cleveland as we know it what with the looming existential threat posed by this summer’s RNC.
So let’s party like Jim Pyne in 1999.
The location, as always, is the basement of Gillespie’s Map Room (1281 West 9th St., just north of Saint Clair in the Warehouse District). The party will start at 6PM and will [click to continue…]
After the Browns finished 7-9 last season for their best record since 2007, the NFL schedule-makers were encouraged enough to reward them with a slot on Monday Night Football for the first time since 2009. The Browns rewarded the schedule-makers in turn by arriving for the showcase event with a 2-9 record, helping to make for “one of the least attractive matchups in Monday Night Football History.” Still, they were considered 4-point favorites playing at home against a 3-8 Ravens team that had lost its quarterback and a number of other key starters to injury. Before the game, Browns players were talking about how the Monday-night lights could help them turn their season around. And on what would be the game’s last play, with the score tied, they set up to kick what would have been a game-winning field goal. Seconds later, though, they’d become only the second team in NFL history and the first in three decades to lose on a walk-off blocked field goal return. The videos capturing live reactions to this ending are like Guernica.
The level of anguish on display here is something to appreciate. It’s not as if these fans didn’t know [click to continue…]
Let’s forget for a moment that the NFL is basically a five-month-long commercial for beer, pick-up trucks and the military-industrial complex, subsidized by taxpayers on the worst possible terms and powered by men willing to turn their brains into porridge on non-guaranteed contracts for the off-chance at dying with some money in the bank. Let’s also forget that hardly any of the people who manage the Cleveland Browns, play for the Cleveland Browns, or misappropriate an annual 8-plus-figure annuity from the Cleveland Browns would have a decent thing to do with Cleveland, Ohio if the NFL franchise didn’t happen to be based here. Let’s even forget that there probably won’t even be a Cleveland, Ohio, or any place else for too much longer. Football season is here so it’s time to talk about how it’s going to go.
The prediction here is that it won’t go so badly, at least not as far as Browns seasons go. [click to continue…]
The New York Times recently published a column by Michael Powell titled “Sports Owners Dip Into the Public’s Purse, Despite Their Billions in the Bank.” The piece focused on Cleveland and last year’s county-wide ballot issue on the “sin tax,” in which the local pro sports owners, with the help of their corporate sponsors, spent $3 million on campaign advertising to secure some $300 million in tax dollars to fund their privately owned franchises. The owners’ campaign slogan was “Keep Cleveland Strong,” a not-so-subtle and not-at-all-credible threat that one or more of the Browns, Cavaliers, or Indians would leave Cleveland if they didn’t receive the subsidy.
Powell’s column freshly raises familiar questions about why a struggling county would spend so much public money to subsidize hugely profitable businesses owned by billionaires. It also raises questions about why the Times would care to focus on the Cleveland sin tax fight so long after the fact, with the subsidy now stuck on Cuyahoga County taxpayer’s bill until 2035. But it’s an issue that keeps coming up across the US, most recently in Milwaukee with the NBA’s Bucks, and with St. Louis, Oakland, and San Diego’s respective NFL teams threatening to move to LA. And more generally speaking, billionaires sticking it to civilians with unsustainable debt loads is a hot topic worldwide.
Powell gets to the heart of the matter in pointing out that:
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With the Cavs set to face off against the Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals tonight it’s especially important to point out that California should hardly even be a state, let alone a “Golden” one populous enough to support four NBA franchises.
It’s one thing to note that the state is experiencing an historic water crisis with consequences rippling across the country. It’s another to understand how predictable this problem was.
It’s only been about 150 years that non-natives have lived in what’s now California, with the non-indigenous population estimated to be no more than 8,000 as of 1846. This was for good reason, as [click to continue…]