Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Vox in the Box (17)

There's a red moon rising
Down the Cuyahoga river
Rollin' into Cleveland to the lake
Cleveland, city of light, city of magic
Cleveland, city of light,
you're calling me

Even now I can remember
'Coz the Cuyahoga river
Goes smokin through my dreams

Burn on, big river, burn on
Burn on, big river, burn on
Now the lord can make you tumble
And the lord can make you turn
And the lord can make you overflow
But the lord can't make you burn

Burn on, big river, burn on

Burn on, big river, burn on

We're celebrating the two year anniversary of ClevelandSportsTorture this month (Thanx Pucky). This blog was born from the '05 Tribe regular season collapse, when playoff tix were all but printed and the Devils Rays were the only roadblock. Since that infamous week, I've felt we were closer and closer to The Golden Age of Cleveland Sports. An era where God would let our town get even and then some. A time when our teams would catch every break and the normally inept ownership would pump their organizations with talent so torrid that the promised land would be inevitable every season. After the pain that we've endured, the Golden Age would be just a rite of passage. Payback. The odds would even out; Cleveland is due. But "being due" is a gamblers' fallacy, and I know better.

24 hours after The Fold, I know a little more bra. We are all losers. You are a loser. I am a loser. Vox is a loser. This city is filled with losers. That guy next to you at the office that you commiserate with daily is a loser. Your boss, who never attended a Cavs game until LeBron arrived, is a loser. Your neighbor, who has never been to C-bus but flies an Ohio State flag, is a loser. Your spouse is a loser. Our kids are born losers. There's something inherently defective in all of us. Cleveland is a lemon. My Golden Age is a fucking pipe dream. It busted with the slightest pressure. Then, sad and embarrassed, I'm forced to snake it clean with my small Hebrew dick.

This loss hurt me more than The Drive, Fumble, Shot, Mesa, etc. You know why? 'Coz when that shit happened I was young and naive. I believed anything was possible and that Cleveland's moment would come someday. But now I'm old and experienced and I know loser cities like us don't win shit. We'll never win anything. You know damn well we won't be in the ALCS again next year. Just like the Cavs won't even sniff The Finals again. With every lost opportunity, we have to wait a little longer. Then the losses hurt even more, because we start to appreciate that the chance we had was so rare. Fuck you, fuck me, fuck of all us. Fuck EBIRT. Fuck SVAC. Fuck the Clowns. Fuck the Red Cocks. Fuck the Nation. Fuck the Gaytors. Fuck Schilling and Beckett. Fuck the Frisco Chronicle. Fuck Larry David's wife. I'd bang her. Fuck that guy who can't speak in the post-game press conferences. Fuck Tim Carver. Fuck the umps for squeezing Fausto in the first inning of Game 6. They wouldn't have done that to a veteran. Fuck Dice and Oki. Fuck the Sports Guy, who lost all credibility when he wrote that buffoonish column defending Belichick. Fuck Marsellis Wallace for throwing Tony Rocky Horror out of a four-story window for no reason. Fuck Coach Taylor for taking the TMU job. Fuck Carsten Charles, if he leaves. I mean, when he leaves...And thanks for nothing, C.C., when it counted. Hey Cleveland, if you want to blame Mesa for '97, then you have to blame Sabathia for '07. And Fuck Fox, most of all, for doing their damndest to ruin our viewing experience.

I don't have any original things to say about Game 7 because yall covered everything thoroughly. Ryan nailed it when he wrote that he had the Drive/Fumble/Shot-feeling after Blake's double-play. That's exactly how I felt. A cold rush of blood to the head, a stomach drop...and then utter despair. Game over after Blake's double play. Even when we had two on in the 8th, you knew we were finished when Tito went to Papelbon. Papelbon dared Hafner to catch up to him. It's a truly helpless feeling when you know exactly how an at-bat is going to unfold and there's nothing you can do but watch it happen. Paplebon knew Hafner couldn't touch him. The announcers knew it and everyone at Fenway knew it. Worst of all, Hafner knew it.

Froms, good take on Schilling. The most selfish and despicable on-the-field demonstration I have ever witnessed from an athlete came from the heroic Curt Schilling in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Schill made himself the center of attention at his teammate's expense. As "Wild Thing" Mitch Williams struggled to close out Toronto and Schilling's expected win, the TV cameras focused on Schill's face in the dugout. And he knew it. And instead of just cheering or clapping or trying to spur on Williams, like the rest of the Phillies, he put a towel over his face like he couldn't bear to watch Williams blow another save. He was typical Schilling in the process...over-dramatic and silly...like the baseball universe revolved around every one of his facial expressions. In front of America, on baseball's biggest stage, he sold out his teammate for his own selfish addiction to the limelight. If I were Williams, I would've taken a 2x4 to Curt's head in the clubhouse.

We are so our city tonight. The underbelly of Cleveland ain't soft and white. It's hardcore depravity and resignation. But we are rich with identity. We wear our failures and shame like a fucking badge. Misery is exquisite here. Days start with small Lake Erie waves crashing dirty and meaningless on our tortured soil, afternoons toil on in our dying steel mills, the last remains of a once-proud post industrial city that is now overcome with poverty; on to our bars in the evening, free flowing spirits and libations-- while our ballteams eventually prove inferior...and the Cleveland sun will rise hungover again. Like Red said of Andy Dufrain, "Every man has his breaking point." I speak for the entire city when I say: I am now at mine.

No silver linings from Vox in this edition. Not even a touch of grey. Here's all I can offer up for those who read the column for my traditionally life-affirming themes: Brownies are 3-3 and the Stillers may have five more losses in them. We make the playoffs, squeak by in the first round...and then we get the Patriots in a game where we have nothing to lose. I can't think of anything better than exacting revenge against Boston in what will be the biggest upset in NFL playoff history. Remember, the Browns played New England tougher than anyone else this season. Throw out the fluke interception in the final minutes that went though Winslow's hands, and it was a ten point game. If Anderson doesn't throw that endzone interception early, it's closer than that. Also, in my 25 years as a sports fan, we have a 4-3 lead over Boston in the playoffs. Cavs ended Larry Bird's career in '92. Tribe beat the Sox in the '95 and '98 ALDS. And the Browns beat the Pats in the '95 AFC wildcard. I feel a Top 10 coming. I emailed something similar five years ago, but here is the updated version:

SamVox's Top 10 Cleveland Sports Heartbreaking Losses

1. ALCS Game 7, Red Sox 11 Indians 2, Fenway Park, October 21 2007
We've covered The Skinner, the bad hops and the horrible calls. But here's why it really stings: We had a chance to knock off arguably the country's two most popular franchises in the same post-season. We had a 3-1 series lead. We had a chance to have homefield advantage in the World Series against an inferior NL club. This was maybe the best opportunity of our lifetime to win a ring. My dad, JeffVox, swears by the Cleveland Curse. It was put on us by Paul Brown when Modell fired him. Dad is not like SportsGuy's dad. Although he also loves Boston Legal, he doesn't care for sports. But he's been preaching the curse to me since I was old enough to understand it. I never believed in it until we lost this series. By the way, we had no chance to win this game because it was played on Sunday. The Fumble, The Drive, The Shot, Joe Table, Red Right 88*...all happened on a Sunday. Coincidence? Or are Clevelanders skipping church too often?

It was devastating to see the '07 Tribe go down. This team had a lot of Jake Taylor in it. Borowski was cut and played in the Mexican league, working his way back to the majors. Victor couldn't make the throw to 2nd base all last year, and willed himself to respectability. Kenny Lofton came back to Cleveland for one last good year under the sun. Every bone in my body was telling me this was our year.

2. The Drive, AFC Championship, Broncos 23 Browns 20, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, January 11, 1987
Rich Karlis field goal in OT was no good. No good.

3. World Series, Game 7, Marlins 3 Indians 2, Pro Player Stadium, October 26, 1997
Doug, put this in the J-News: You and me watched this alone in disbelief in our Jack Beatley-rental on Chittenden. If Mesa saves the game, how do we react? Do we jerk each other off or just mutually masturbate?

4. The Shot, Game 5 NBA 1st Round Playoff, Bulls 100 Cavs 99, Richfield Coliseum, May 7, 1989
Am I the only one that can't get enough of that edited Gatorade commercial where Jordan misses The Shot? I'm serious. I smile every time I see it. Ehlo celebrates. Jordan walks off dejected. It's great therapy.

5. The Fumble, AFC Championship, Broncos 38 Browns 33, Mile High Stadium, January 17, 1988
The opposite of my Curt Shilling story: One of the classiest things I've ever seen in sports was when Ernest Byner sat alone on the bench after fumbling., and Bernie Kosar, obviously devastated by the loss, came over and gave him a hug/words of encouragement. I'll never forget...my Mom watched Bernie do this and said to me, "That's a leader." 20 years later, I hear Bernie on the radio three times a week and wonder why he does interviews drunk.

6. MISL Semifinals Game 5, Blast 7, Force 4, Baltimore Arena, May 1985
Force led 4-2 after three quarters, on the verge of finally eliminating the nemesis Blast and advancing to their first-ever MISL finals. The dynamic duo of Andy Chapman and Peter Ward scorched Baltimore early. But the Blast scored 5 unanswered goals in the 4th quarter. First time I cried after a sporting event.

7. AFC Wildcard, Stillers 36 Browns 33, Heinz Field, January 5, 2003
Two days after OSU wins the national championship, Kelly Holcomb and the upstart Brownies choke away a win against our hated rivals when Northcutt drops a bunny. Butch Davis never recovered from this loss.

8. ALDS Game 5, Red Sox 12 Indians 8, Jacobs Field, October 11, 1999
Indians were up 2-0 in this series and dropped three straight games. It was a run-fest with both teams blowing big leads early, as Nagy and Saberhagen got absolutely drilled. Boston brings in a supposedly injured Pedro Martinez out of the bullpen and he works the last 6 scoreless innings for the win.

9. NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 6, Pistons 84 Cavs 82, The Q, May 19, 2006
Gotta rebound, Flip Murray.

10. ALCS Game 4, Yankees 4 Indians 0, Jacobs Field, October 10, 1998
The 1998 Yankees are a legendary team; often considered the most dominant team of the modern era. I believe they won 125 games or something and swept the Pads in the World Series. The Indians were leading the ALCS 2-1 heading into Game 4. Colon was lights-out in a Game 3 win....and Grover handed the ball to Dwight Gooden. This was Doc's last chance at his first post-season win. But Paul O'Neil homered in the first, and that was all New York needed. Yanks would go on to win it in 6 games, when Manny climbed the wall for no reason. Look, this is my fucking list. Make your own.

* I don't remember much of anything about Red Right 88. Way too young. But I do recall being over Froms' house and seeing his dad punch the piano as hard as he could when Sipe threw the interception.

Burn on, big river, burn on

I am the mistake by the lake in the box

BURN ON, BIG RIVER, BURN ON...Parting is inevitable