Category Archives: Cleveland Indians

Mmmm … Delicious Hat!

Jason-Giambi-300x199

Boy, Giambi went from ‘roid poster boy to beloved elder statesman and future manager quick, didn’t he?

No team has won 10 straight games to finish a season since 1971. Tribe just did it to lock in home for the wildcard game (and finish just a game back of the Tigers). Needed every one. Win or lose Wednesday, this was a cool season and I like this team. They have the bonhomie of those “idiot” Red Sox teams, without the pervasive douchiness. Hard-working flavor for a hard-working town. Go Tribe! You’ve already come up big. Now go get a little more gravy.

Last week, while the Browns were looking rather sharp in the first game of the Brian Hoyer tank-a-thon (so it seemed at the time), atlswami texted me: “I’m enjoying your karmic comeuppance for bailing on your team,” referring to my spite-add of the opposing defense in fantasy. Dood–all part of the plan. Some national writers talking about them being legit good.

And Hoyer. The mayor.  Look, I grew up playing Browns QB in the backyard too, counting down before lofting a dead duck in the air and running over to catch it myself, and the spinning the ball on the ground while I did the cabbage patch. In fact, my cousins lived in North Olmsted, where Hoyer grew up, and we did this little act in their yard too. So he’s going to win a lot of hearts. Let’s hope he learned a lot from Tom Brady and see how this goes.

How many games do the Browns have to win before I actually have to eat my hat? Can I wash it first?

This is back when it was new. It's not new any more.

This is back when it was new. It’s not new any more.

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Posterized!

My guess is kids today (holy shit I sound old, which is fitting since I’m in the space between being younger than Steve Nash but old enough to be Kyrie Irving’s father) are still high on the posters, right? When I was a teenager, there wasn’t an inch of the gray wood paneling in my bedroom that wasn’t covered in them. This was abetted by both my brother and I working in music stores, where we got loads and loads of promo posters and such. Hell, my brother even had his ceiling covered. But I did supplement those with a couple of sports-related ones. At some point early on, I wanted, but never actually purchased, a few of the posters made by John and Tock Costacos, a couple of T-shirt guys that had the idea of making these bizarrely themed sports posters that sometimes used athletes’ nicknames and sometimes just made em up, so far as I can tell.

“We wanted to make the athletes into comic book heroes. They’re larger than life. They’re Superman. They’re Batman,” one of the Costacos said (Kevin Mitchell literally being Batman in one of them). “They’re Hollywood action stars that kick the shit out of 20 bad guys always living to fight another day.”

Riiiiight. I know that’s what I always thought of Lester Hayes and Steve Largent.

At any rate, there’s an exhibition of these curious abominations that’s about to close at the Country Club and Mondrian in Los Angeles, and Sports Illustrated put up a slideshow of a bunch. More can be seen here. The Costacos are apparently still in the poster business, but not with the same batshit level of dementia that you can find in these. There’s about a million baffling details to parse in each one–from the overall theme (Kirk Gibson as a hunter, James Worthy as an attorney) to tiny things (Chuck Person’s too-small chaps, or the intimate caress between Jim Everett and one of his linemen).

So I naturally gravitated toward the two Cleveland posters: Bob Golic as some kind of greased hair metal canine fetishist with an exploding doghouse, and Cory Snyder as a gunslinger with smoking balls, more tiny balls on his belt, and a general look of confusion about where he is (is it all about his ability to throw out runners—I spent far too long trying to figure it out).


Don’t Hate the Player, Kiddo, Hate the Game

Claes Oldenburg's "Free Stamp"--It's totally in Cleveland, look it up.

Many people now have asked whether I’m going to raise my infant son as a Cleveland sports fan. Bitter legacy and all that. Why not let him fall into the warm, smelly, corrupt embrace of New York fandom, or pick a frontrunner of his own, or devise some random association (like my Cleveland-born-and-raised cousin who lives and dies by the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas Jayhawks basketball—something about the hawks? I never asked him)? Notably, no one who asked me this question is from Cleveland. They’d never even think to ask it, just as I’d never even consider letting this little kid think for himself. He’s going down with the ship, riding on his father’s shoulders, cursing Art Modell, Jose Mesa, and LeFraud James.

Lots of people leave Cleveland, probably more than stay. A few more years and I’ll have been in New York longer than I ever lived in the Midwest. But I’ve observed that people who leave the town (different, in a way, than even the most prideful who still live there), love the place unreasonably. Ask Michael Symon, Drew Carey, or Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (our best and brightest?). People who come from Cleveland wear that shit on their sleeves, man. Maybe it’s an overreaction to the overdiscussed “Mistake by the Lake” days, or because it was a nice place to grow up, or the world-class art museum and symphony (right, that’s totally it). Nah, it’s because of the Browns, Cavs, and Indians. I don’t need to go over the sources of this pain—shit, I will anyway in this space, over time—but no other town claims “Most Tortured Sports City” more vociferously than the Metropolis of the Western Reserve. Stop arguing. We’re winning that shit in a walk. No one knows what it’s like to be us, and dammit if shared pain isn’t the greatest engine of solidarity.

So yeah, the kid is going to grow up with this. It’ll build character and teach him patience for things that may never come. I’ll cross my fingers that it won’t set him to tears like it once did me, pray that he can lay claim to the ground floor when Cleveland has a multiple title–decade like stupid Boston just had, and hope that he doesn’t one day hate me for it. I salute you, little man. Here’s a helmet.

If they ever tell my story, let them say that I rooted for giants. Men rise and fall like the winter wheat, but these names will never die. Let them say I lived in the time of Omar Vizquel, Mark Price, and Ernest Byner. Let them say I lived in the time of Kosar.