Cleveland and Philadelphia: Bosom Buddies

So, yesterday, I linked to a post on ShysterBall, which featured the deranged rantings of yours truly.  Shyster had written a post earlier in the day about championship futility.  I wanted to chime in with my two cents, but, in typical Curious Mechanism fashion, my two cents turned into 8.95, and I had to email the comments to Craig (that is, Shyster hisself), who later posted them.

Well, in the comments on the post, there can be found this comment:

Blogger Peter said…
Dear Philadelphia,

Call me in 2024, when you’ve gone 44 years without a championship in a major sport.

Sincerely,
Cleveland

So, Peter, this post is for you, mostly.
They say that misery loves company, and thus, I ask, why must you belittle my misery?  I don’t know you, but I know I can understand your pain, as no Philadelphia teams have won a championship in my lifetime.  Let us commiserate together.

Obviously, there’s a high degree of subjectivity in talking about the “most futile” franchises.  Cleveland has seen (I think) 137 seasons pass since its last championship, between the Tribe, the Browns, and the Cavaliers.  That hurts.  Philadelphia, between the Sixers, Phils, Eagles, and Flyers have suffered 100 losing seasons.  I don’t think any other cities are particularly close to us.

I wouldn’t want to argue which town’s sporting life is more worthy of mourning and pity.  That kind of thing seems to me more life a cry for attention–we’re not arguing over the respective glories of a team.  We’re arguing who’s had the rougher fan-life.  Any victory would be, undoubtedly, Pyrrhic.  I don’t knock the suffering of Cleveland or Boston or any other fans in my email.  The closest I come to it is a bit of a knock on Dan Shaughnessy, but I don’t mean that to say that Red Sox fans weren’t suffering.  I’m sure they did.  I meant to belittle the idea of a “curse”.

To me, the idea of a curse is to glorify a lousy team, or many years of lousy teams.  It’s a device to make fans feel better about their lot by throwing undue attention about the pale basement dwelling team to which they’ve given their time, money, lungs, and spirit.  While Boston might have been gloriously cursed (by Babe Ruth, no less), and the Cubs have long been the Lovable Losers, the Phillies, and by extension, their fans, have mostly lived in either anonymity, or in the enmity of other fans.

From where I sit, Cleveland’s had plenty to be upset about, even aside from the number of years and seasons of losing.  I can only imagine what it’s like to hear the ESPN talking heads pontificate on how native son LeBron James will someday soon leave his hometown team for the Big Money, Big Market, Big Fame.  It must sound like a reminder that Cleveland Just Isn’t Good Enough.

The Tribe is a team that has seen more than its fair share of awful squads, and if you go back in history, you can’t help but notice the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, who sported, I believe, the lowest winning percentage in baseball history (an unnecessarily brutal .130 mark).  Over the past decade, things have more or less been looking up, teamwise, though the amount of flak the team takes for Chief Wahoo seems to be gradually increasing.  I can only guess at what it’s like to reminded that you’re rooting for a team whose founding racism is so front and center at all times.

The Browns…  Okay, I’ll be honest.  I don’t follow the NFL very much, and I especially don’t really follow the AFC, so I can’t speak much to the mind-numbing experience of rooting for the Browns.  But, from my distant perch, the Browns have always seemed to me to be football’s Cubs–that is, the Lovable Losers.  You’ve got the Dawg Pound, right?  And the teams have had a few outstanding players since 1964, but not enough good ones around them to do much.  Of course, there are those legendary losses, and I imagine that “John Elway” tastes sour on your lips.

I’m 24 years old.  I was a fetus when the Sixers won Philadelphia’s last championship.  I don’t know if my sporting experience would be more infuriating and depressing and relentlessly addicting in Cleveland than in Philly.  Honestly, I don’t.  My best guess is that it wouldn’t be harder or easier, just different.

I’ve long felt a kinship to the sports fans in Cleveland.  No other city, I think, understands the drowning feeling of rooting for losing teams year round.  Boston had the Patriots, and before them, the Celtics to keep things happy while the Red Sox lost.  Chicago had the Bulls.  But Philly and The Cleve, Peter, they only have each other.

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1 Comment

Filed under Baseball, Blogging, Philadelphia

One response to “Cleveland and Philadelphia: Bosom Buddies

  1. Peter

    Hey TC,

    My mom grew up in a house full of rapid Philadelphia sports fans, so pulling for the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers is in my blood.

    I can definitely relate to the feelings in your posts on this subject, and we can certainly commiserate over our teams’ perpetual failures. I try to convince myself that the constant stream of choke jobs and letdowns is just setting us up for some epic moment of glory in the future, like the Red Sox’ comeback in 2004. In the meantime, I’ll embrace it:

    Cleveland sports wouldn’t be Cleveland sports without Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Catch, The Shot, and Jose Mesa?

    In short, I didn’t mean to belittle your agony. I just saw an opening for a melodramatic (and hopefully a little clever) response and grabbed it. To quote Bill Clinton:

    “I feel your pain.”

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