Saturday, November 29, 2008

Everything Is Broken

- Bob Dylan

Whenever a situation strikes me as full of uncertainty, complexity or ambiguity, I go to a reliable source to ferret through the static - Bob Dylan.

Now I am sure that the Twentieth Century Troubadour was weighing in on far more socially impactful issues than the status of a professional football team when he wrote the above, but it still has that clear finality when applied to the status of the Cleveland Browns.

Everything is broken.

Sound familiar? Doesn't it have that 'Oh Gawd here we go again' discordant ring to it? 1991. 1999. 2001. 2005. I swear they should rename the franchise to the Cleveland Cicadas with its rhythmical pursuit of putridity. Our president-elect ran his successful presidential campaign with the message 'Change We Can Believe In'. With the Browns, it's 'Change We Can Set Our Watches By'. Whether the team exhibits success on the field (The firing of Schottenheimer after the 1988 season) or presents another lesson in Murphy's Law On Steroids, this team will embrace change as its mantra.

Look, I'm not here to proffer solutions - at least not in this post - but rather to vent my spleen. This is not about Bring In The Chin or Phil Must Go. It's about that extremely familiar yet still disconcerting feeling deep within my bones that comes with being a Cleveland sports fan. A feeling I do not enjoy, but have come to accept as my lot in life

So I have to find a scapegoat. And I have one. My parents. Do they deserve it? No, they're great people. But they conceived me in Akron Ohio. I had no choice in this. When I was seven years old, my dad said to me, during a Browns-Steelers game, 'Son, see those guys in the black helmets? That's the enemy." Okay Dad. I believe you. And at the time - 1965 or so - it was a true statement. Cleveland owned Pittsburgh. Sunday spaghetti dinners included the Browns on TV with Ken Coleman & Jim Graner. Touch the dial and you die. My choices were root for the Browns or go to my room.
So here we are at the tail end of another Browns season that has inextricably yet almost predictably spun out of control. And yeah, the Cavs are kicking ass & taking names at the moment but the buzz is not how good they're playing or whether they can bring Cleveland a ridiculously-overdue championship...but whether LeBron is going to the Knicks or Nets in two years (Who else but Cleveland fans are already apoplectic over their star leaving two years before the event actually occurs? It's Pavlovian conditioning). And the Tribe - I'm still wondering how a team with All Stars at every position lost a World Series to a bunch of mercenaries eleven years ago. I still cannot get past 'Two Outs To The Title I Hate You Jose Mesa Edgar Renteria Must Die' mental block.

So bring on the latest reboot of the Browns. Clear the cookies, erase the Temporary Internet Files, hit Control-Alt-Delete. Once the screen comes back up, I'll expect to see an improved performance...but I know it won't last. In four years we'll be doing it again.

Ain't no use jivin'
Ain't no use jokin'
Everything is broken.

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