Tag Archives: Cleveland

So This Is What Misery Feels Like …

The Braves epic September 2011 swoon helped propel Atlanta to the top if Forbes' Most Miserable Sports Cities

This is a blog that basks in the misery that underachieving sports franchises inflict on their respective fan bases, from the rabid, rust-belted Dawg Pound inhabitants of Cleveland to the new moneyed, good ol’ boy transients who fein to support Atlanta teams. The authors, which include a Seattle native still so distraught at losing the Sonics to OKC that he’s yet to post anything, are constantly quibbling about which of their hometowns is in fact the sorriest of sports cities.

On Leap Day 2012, it is I who can claim the title, as an independent arbiter, Forbes magazine has declared that the loss of the NHL Thrashers (honestly, no one cares) and the epic September collapse of the Braves (don’t really want to talk about it) makes Atlanta more pitiable than Sonics-less Seattle. Yay! (I guess.)

Here’s how the Coming Up Small team took the news:

ATLSwami: CAME up small!

ValmiCLE: You can have it. Totally impossible to take that list remotely seriously. Puts Denver ahead of Cleveland. DENVER! With this: “A great run from 1996 to 2001 (four titles) doesn’t quite mitigate a long bridesmaid history for the Mile High City.” Four fucking titles in the last 15 years gets less weight than 0 for 45? Blech. Worst one of these lists I’ve ever seen. Buffalo? Seattle? No problem. But putting Phoenix and Denver up there?

ATLS: Phoenix? They had the one Dbacks series. Anything else?

VCLE: Years and years of the Suns being good. Went to a Super Bowl. Dbags more recent than Atlanta’s.

ATLS: So, y’all have been to multiple World Series and an NBA Finals.

VCLE: This is a zero sum game. Been to 3 championship rounds in my lifetime and lost each in a horrible way. Can’t argue with zero titles in over 40 years. Who cares if the hockey team leaves Atlanta? No one in Atlanta clearly. Let’s not go over what happened when Cleveland lost its most popular team. In that time, ATL’s been to a Super Bowl and as many World Series [5, actually, to the Indians’ 2] and managed to win one. Winning matters. No comparison. Winning before 1964 doesn’t matter unless you’re old enough to remember it. And even then.

ATLS: It’s not about you, dude. It’s about the city.

VCLE: Shut your word hole

ATLS: Cleveland was there before you, and, this might be a stretch, it will outlast you.

GreggySEA (in his first appearance on the blog): Damn, swiped first place from us.

ATLS: If it makes you feel better, I don’t value the loss of the Thrashers as even being in the same ballpark as the loss of the Sonics.

GSEA: It does make me feel better.  And we just lost out next best hope with Sacramento staying put.

ATLS: Did KJ ever frustrate you back in the day? Cause he’s certainly doing it from Sacto’s mayor’s office.

GSEA: Yeah, fuck that guy.

VCLE: Drafted by the Cavs and traded for Larry Nance, if I recall.

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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.


What Is “Coming Up Small”?

The inspiration for this blog's name comes from a Sports Illustrated article written after the Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals. (The authors were pleased with that outcome.)

“Coming up small” is what the teams that the authors of this blog love seem to do annually. It’s Ichiro and the 2001 Seattle Mariners tying a Major League Baseball record for 116 regular season wins in … before managing to take only game from the Yankees in the ALCS. It’s the Cleveland Cavaliers swashbuckling through the rest of the NBA enroute to the best record in both the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons … and failing to make it to the NBA Finals both seasons. It’s the Atlanta Braves making it to the postseason every year for 14 straight years, beginning in 1991 … and only notching one World Series victory (and that, in the strike-shortened 1995 season).

It’s losing the Sonics to, of all places, Oklahoma City. It’s handing Baltimore a Super Bowl-ready franchise. It’s failing to adequately support not one, but two hockey teams (the Flames and the Thrashers).

The authors of this blog all live in New York City, home to storied franchises, such as the Yankees, Knicks, and Giants. (Yes, there are some less storied franchises here, too.) Yet, they have held steadfastly to the franchises of their youth and suffered perpetually from those teams’ unfailing mediocrity. They hail from the towns, that according to Forbes’ most recent assessment, are the first-, second-, and eighth-most miserable sports cities in the country.

Coming Up Small  is a venue to discuss what it means to be an expat fan, to honor your vestigial loyalties nearly a decade or more after you’ve left the city where you grew up. It’s a site to document the process of trying to teach your newborn son to love teams from a city he’s never known, that don’t get a lot of media coverage in the Northeast, and that don’t have a track record of success. It’s a corner of the web to discuss the mix of pride and shame that comes from going to a sports bars and having people point and say, “Whoa, a Falcons fan!”

This is a blog about being a fan. It’s also a blog about being a fool.