This sports town on a sleepy shore isn’t perfect. We have a team named after a group that doesn’t define the city, we’ve burnt the jerseys of one of the best athletes in the city’s history on national television, and on several occasions, games have been disrupted due to thrown bottles. If this were an old morality tale, our actions would be punished with providential vengeance.
Vengeance, one might note, that would take a very similar form to the last fifty years of Cleveland Sports.
It’s interesting to consider: Are we the bad guys in a cosmic sports drama? And: could we possibly answer that question objectively?
If we are the bad guys, we can only sniff in disgust – not at the amorphous Hero, whether in the form of Tim Duncan, Edgar Renteria, or John Elway – but at whichever clumsy cosmic writer penned us. Our frustration needn’t even be with the outcomes: annoying, certainly, but if we’re a Villain, downfall is inevitable. That’s the optimist in our writer: Good shall triumph over Evil, with shimmering brass hailing Jordan as The Shot is heard ‘round the world.
To complain of our defeat – that is, merely that we were defeated – is spite. Defeat happens; someone will lose. if it’s the arrogant Villain that loses, all the better.
Yet for whatever fatal flaws Cleveland fans have, one can hardly accuse us of hubris. Quite the opposite: Han is our flaw. Hubris requires a flippant trust that skill and luck will bear them through all trials; Han, a trust that incompetence or luck will ensure we remain under the boot of some greater force.
Consider: a grandiose villain, whose cartoon wildness is so surreal and childish that he might have been penned with LSD-scented marker. This Villain is defined by megalomaniacal confidence that his wicked, wicked scheme would be unstoppable – hubris that would be his downfall! the Hero might interject.
It’s not enough to say Cleveland lacks this swaggering sneer; this very sneer is used against us by Pittsburgh, by Detroit, by recently-minted Miami Heat fans – by the Heroes of this piece.
Cleveland’s story is not that of an epic Villain: we are the antagonists in an awkward and stumbling tragic tale by a writer who possesses more spite than skill. Yet however caricatured a Villain Cleveland has become, we are the Villain no less. And as we all know: everyone hates villains.
If our fate is to be villains, let us embrace it with the self-swaddling charisma and pride of any melodramatic antagonist. We’ve no choice, after all: Everybody Hates Cleveland.