Off-Base Percentage is a weekly post about the lighter side of sports, mainly baseball. Whether it occurs on the field, in the locker room, or in the media, if it is a little ‘off-base’ then it is fair game. If you are looking for analysis of a player, team, or sport it won’t be found in this post. This is for the sports fan that wants to take a step back and look at sports from a ‘different’ angle. Enjoy.
With the 2013 NFL season up ahead of us and the Indians’ hopes in the rear view mirror Cleveland fans are now in the middle of a sport transition that all fans have at one point during the year. Most fans in the greater Cleveland area have turned their thoughts to the Browns’ ongoing rebuilding instead of focusing on the reeling Tribe. I came to this realization last Friday when I was more enthralled with the Browns preseason game than an Indians game. It led me to think about the year as a whole for someone who cheers for Cleveland teams. The last couple of years have been eerily similar to this point. This is the seasonal cycle as I see it as a Cleveland sports fan.
A bitter cold beginning to the year up by the lake. The crisp air blows in new beginnings over Lake Erie. The Browns season has wrapped up and we all focus our attention to where our first round draft pick is and who we should take with it. The NFL playoffs start and we are left once again to root against the teams we hate instead of cheering for the team we love. The Cavaliers are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in once again–but there’s still months to go. Sometimes they are thrilling to watch, yet sometimes it is like pulling a band aid off slowly–prolonged pain. The Indians are finishing up their off season and some of the die hard Wahoos are starting to focus solely on summer ball.
Thankfully all of the NFL’s fans besides two teams are now looking forward to their team’s draft position and how to improve next season. But the Super Bowl brings all sorts of people to the television whether you are a fan of one the teams, love NFL football, or if you just want to watch some funny Dorito’s and Bud Light commercials. While I am trying to learn the names of the new players on the Indians’ roster the pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training with playoff hopes on their shoulders. The Cavs watch as the eighth place team pulls away even further away and we are left as fans to hope for teams worse than us to start winning to get Dan Gilbert more ping pong balls in the lottery. By this time, the Browns have put the sour season in the past but have lost out on draft pick trades or have had someone get seriously injured or suspended for the next season.
The Cavs have let another trade deadline pass without dumping their awful contracts or stockpiling draft picks for the future. Fortunately, they look like a sure fire top five draft pick and get one of the best players in college come draft day. The Indians have begun spring training and by now we all know the names, but we’re unsure who will be in Columbus and who will be in Cleveland on opening day. The Browns are still silent about who they will pick or if they will trade their pick. The silence is deadly. Thank goodness for March Madness!
Baseball is up and running. The Indians have high hopes for a division championship and so do their fans. They get off to a hot start and the question is asked, “can they keep it up?” The Browns are on the clock on draft day. Most fans have to tune in right when the coverage starts in fear that they will miss the Browns’ pick. After the draft hopes are high again for Cleveland fans and we all quickly learn the names of our new rookies–and their Twitter handles. Cavs are still losing.
The Q can put away the wine and gold court for a couple months. Now we just await the lottery draw, but at least we know we’re guaranteed a top five pick. The possibilities are endless for the next season. The Indians continue their hot start jumping out to an early division lead. Now we ask the question, “are they for real?” The Browns sit idly by while free agents are signed by seemingly every other team in the league. That doesn’t stop us as fans from believing that each and every free agent would be a perfect fit in orange and brown.
“What if?” Tribe fans are left to believe that this is the year we make the playoffs, win the ALCS, and end the championship drought in the World Series. The season is almost half way over. We just have to coast to the finish line and then run through the playoffs. The Browns remain quiet, but thankfully they start signing our draft picks so they can be in training camp in a month. After watching LeBron all month basketball has finally come to a close. Meanwhile, it is draft night just weeks later in the NBA. We know what number pick we have, we just have no clue who we drafted. A quick Google search proves that the Cavs did not make an awful pick, but he was certainly not the obvious pick. But since when does Cleveland do things conventionally?
Training camp opens and all we hear are good things about the veterans and the new draft picks. Some guys are even overachieving by our standards. Like clockwork one of our starters will undoubtedly go down with a season ending injury. But a quick, veteran signing is all we need to restore hope. Too bad the Browns don’t do much quickly. Regardless, our schedule isn’t tough so we’re still shooting for six or seven wins, right? The Indians have cooled off right around the All-Star break. Don’t worry, we have the whole second half of the season to get hot again and we’re still in the hunt for the division championship. The Cavs, like the Browns, stay quiet during free agency.
Well, Tribe fans, the wild card is not too far out of the picture. Remember when we were in first? We just need a couple pieces via trade. Following suit with other Cleveland franchises, the Indians watch the trade market close. The Cavs are just as quiet. Have no fear, Browns’ preseason has begun. Our starters look sharp, second stringers show potential, and there are even bright spots in the fourth quarter with the reserves fighting for a roster spot.
Well, the Indians have packed up and the Clippers have come from Columbus to audition for next season. Cavs pull the court back out in the Q. Summer league has wrapped up and now we can start forming predictions in the diva-filled league we call the NBA. The Heatles and the rest of the Big 3’s fill the ESPN timeline while we squint at the BottomLine to see that the Cavs did not make a blockbuster trade. But it’s Week 1 in the NFL! All is right with the world. As the leaves change, so do our moods in Cleveland.
We are left watching yet another round of playoffs without a Cleveland team representing us. FOX baseball at night is still exciting, just nowhere near the same with no bass drum coming from left field and Slider jumping on the dugout. The Cavs and Browns are both off to slow starts, but the season just started and the schedule looks to be getting easier. We might win a few! Think positive.
The Cavs don’t look terrible. Maybe we can sneak into the playoffs. Then we can take the series one game at time and see what happens. The Browns are hurt, losing, and down right hard to watch. Some touchdowns would be nice. The playoffs are all but mathematically eliminated from our sights. Time to play for draft picks. This is also the first month without baseball since pretty much February. The Indians deserve some time to stay quiet.
Yep, you guessed it. The Indians stay out of the news except for Snow Days. And at this point it becomes a game of who will win first, the Cavs or the Browns–or neither? This is not the way we wanted to end the year. But next year means new beginnings.
My calendar is not meant to be depressing, though it may seem that way. It is my way of keeping the hopes of our city a little closer to reality. I want our teams to win just as bad as the next guy but sometimes we have too high of standards for our mediocre at best teams. I am guilty of expecting too much sometimes as well. I hope this calendar trend does not continue. Most of our teams seem to be heading in the right direction. So hopefully 2013 is a complete 180-degree turn. Maybe even the rest of 2012 could be a step forward.
Here’s to good things!
Did I miss something? Should we have a photo shoot for my calendar? Will we change the trend this year? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @Believelander.
Keep your eyes peeled and ears open for the MTAF Podcast too. It’s on iTunes!