The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

Okay, one more

I promise I’ll get back on the LeBron-train tomorrow, but this article’s too boneheaded and too time-sensitive to let go by. It’s by some guy called Chris Ruddick, and it’s called

Jeter watch is officially on

Thank god we had Chris to make it official. I was starting to worry that all this Jeter-watching was unapproved.

Let’s be honest, it’s not going to be the same if Derek Jeter gets his 3,000th hit anywhere other than Yankee Stadium.

Thank you, Chris Ruddick, for that hard truth that absolutely nobody has been willing to admit. We appreciate your honesty.

That is the situation we find ourselves with, as the Yankee captain sits seven hits shy of the magical milestone with just four games left in the Bronx before a six-game interleague trip.

An interleague trip? Are you kidding me?

Eye kay arr, broski! Fucking Bud. I can’t believe he’s fucking up this moment like that.

You can make the argument that this is going to be the most celebrated milestone of all-time.

You can make that argument, but you won’t be notorious for winning it. Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record (Bonds’ less so, for reasons I believe we’re all familiar with), Mark McGwire’s single-season home run record (Bonds’ less so, for reasons I… wait…), Cal Ripken’s games played streak. Those are three milestones I am willing to guarantee were more celebrated than Jeter getting his 3000th hit. You get back to me when Jeter collects his 4257th hit and we’ll talk.

For one, it’s the Yankees. They do everything big. If you don’t believe me why don’t you relive some of the events leading up to Jeter passing Lou Gehrig for the franchise lead in hits.

Okay. Hit me with some of them. I’m prepared to be blown away by the enormity of Derek Jeter getting within 1256 hits of the all-time record by reliving his exciting chase of Lou Gherig’s franchise record. Which I had, in truth, honestly forgotten about until you brought it up.

So I’m ready. What do you have?

Can you even name other teams’ all-time hits leaders?

What, is that it? That’s an "event" you want me to relive? Strong argument. Well, off the top of my head, I can name the Cubs, Rockies, Mariners, Orioles, Reds, and maybe Marlins and Red Sox. Do I get a prize?

(I looked this up after I wrote this, and I was right about all of them except the Marlins. And almost definitely could have done like eight more if I’d thought about it longer.)

By the time you are done with the video tributes, endless De-rek Je-ter chants, the Yankees will have you thinking he is the only to ever get to 3,000 hits not just the first player in their amazing history to do it, and believe me you’ll hear that little nugget ad nauseam as well.

Well, like Lieutenant Commander Kunta Kinte says, I don’t have to take your word for it. I have already heard that nugget ad nauseam. You’ve told me like fourteen times yourself, and I have a ways to go yet.

This just won’t be a Yankee celebration, though. Major League Baseball will make a big deal about this. He is the face of baseball. He has been since he entered the league on a regular basis in 1996.

No, Cal Ripken Jr. — remember him? He’s the Orioles’ all-time hits leader — was the face of baseball in 1996. Jetes didn’t take over until the early 2000s. Also, MLB made a pretty big deal about A-Rod’s 600th homer last year too, and he ain’t the face of anything. Except a centaur.

You can call him overrated. You can say he was just at the right place at the right time. You can say whatever you want. But 3,000 hits is 3,000 hits. That is one of those numbers that just catapults you to Cooperstown, kind of like 500 home runs used to.

Jeter probably punched his Hall of Fame ticket a long time ago, but this will serve as validation.

Gosh, you think he’ll get in? I’m not sure!

Yea he’s never won an MVP, or a batting title, has been labeled the worst defensive shortstop in the game by some, and consistently appears on baseball’s overrated lists year in and year out.

Derek Jeter got jobbed in 1999 and arguably again in 2006. He should have at least one MVP. Nobody cares about batting titles — I mean, seriously? I remember 2009. You’re telling me that if Joe Mauer had gone 0-for-whatever on the last day of the season, that would improve Jeter’s Hall of Fame case? That’s looney-tunes.

Derek Jeter is stunningly overrated, and this not unrelated to his having five gold gloves while being the worst defensive shortstop in baseball by literally every single metric.

I am not the biggest Jeter guy. Never have been, but even I have to laugh at the overrated thing. I mean really? Are you paying attention at all? Perhaps it’s jealousy. Maybe it’s all the winning or the attention that comes with it, or perhaps it’s the girls he’s been rumored to be with.

Nah. Defense. But thanks anyhow for the weird aspersions cast on the characters of thousands of people you don’t know.

Let’s face it. It’s probably pretty cool being Derek Jeter.

Sure. Rich, famous, idol of millions. One of the best shortstops ever. Is he still boning Minka Kelly? That’s not bad either.

And here we are faced with the fact that Jeter could reach this milestone on the road. In Wrigley Field of all places where the Yankees head for the first leg of the six-game trip that will wind down with three games in Cincinnati, the city that the team named him their 11th captain back in 2003.

Did you just have a seizure? What the hell did you just type?

Is it possible for Jeter to get seven hits in four games.

Is it possible for you to use the correct punctuation at the end of your sentences. Also: seven hits in four games? Possible, sure. He’ll get probably 18 PA or so. But Jeter’s averaging just over one hit per game this year, so it’s not the way to bet.

But I’m sorry. I’m sure you were just about to say that, yes?

Sure. He’s done it countless times throughout his career. He actually had seven hits in a three- game series against Texas earlier in the year. Now he has to do it again.

Oh. Or you could say… that. By the way, as I’m writing this, Derek Jeter has just been pulled from tonight’s game with "an apparent leg injury." Not clear to me what that means, but I’ll bet it impacts his chances of duplicating the legendary seven-hits-in-three-games feat he once performed.

If I had to place money on this happening before the Yanks leave town, I’d bet on Jeter.

I would take that bet. I mean, even if he hadn’t been hurt. His hits/game this year is so far below what he needs to make the cutoff that I’d almost certainly end up one your-money richer.

Why? Because there hasn’t been a player who has embraced the big moment and has been aware of it more than Jeter in my time following baseball.

My friend, you are the kind of man bookies live for. Also, what about this "Big David Papi Ortiz" fellow I’ve heard so much about? I thought "big moments" were supposedly a specialty of his.

The biggest reason I think he’s going to do it, though, is because he always comes through.

Derek Jeter’s 2011 WPA: -1.1. Derek Jeter has cost the Yankees more than one win by not coming through in big situations this year.

That’s why he is such a big deal, because he always seems to deliver in the biggest spots possible.

In the 2001 World Series, Derek Jeter went .148 / .179 / .259 / .438. In game seven, Jeter struck out, flew out, grounded out, and singled. The Yankees lost.

Jeter homered in his first game as a regular, he hit the Jeffrey Maier home run, he became Mr. November when New York as a city was at its lowest point, heck he even passed Gehrig on the eight-year anniversary of 9/11.

No, when New York was "at its lowest point," he did that stuff I mentioned in the last paragraph. But, yes, he does have multiple home runs in his career.

I’m quite sure he is more aware of the fact that the Yanks hit the road for six games after these next four games than you may think.

What? Here’s an article from yesterday — the day before you wrote your… thing — in some obscure regional paper that I expect is from the Japanese city of Usa in which Derek Jeter talks all about how he wants to get his 3000th hit at home. You’re not stumbling on some unknown psychological insight here, clown.

It’s funny that a player whose sole inevitable enshrinement to the Hall of Fame is based mostly on intangibles and team accomplishments, is now going to be celebrated for a statistical achievement.


No, I’m serious: what?

Derek Jeter is one of the best shortstops of all time. This is not based on his "intangibles," or on what his teammates have done, but on the fact that Derek Jeter has been very, very good at baseball for a very long time. Do you know where he ranks among position players in WAR all-time? 55th, which is very good. Do you know how many active players are above him? Four: Thome, Chipper, Pujols, and A-Rod. Do you know how many are shortstops? Six: Arky Vaughan, Bill Dahlen, Robin Yount (for half his career), Cal Ripken Jr., George Davis, and Honus Wagner. Derek Jeter is the seventh-best shortstop of all time, and his career isn’t over — he could still plausibly pass Vaughan, Dahlen, and Yount. No, Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame case is absolutely built on statistics, because he’s been fucking incredible for a pretty long time. Where are you getting this?

(He’s 25th all-time in offensive WAR, and miles ahead of all other shortstops except Wagner. Derek Jeter is a phenomenal hitter. His poor defense has bitten him in the ass to some extent.)

The ridiculous talk will soon begin of where he belongs among the all-time Yankee greats. I personally don’t put him anywhere near the top. A Hall of Fame player for sure, but he is not even the best Yankee of this generation. That is a spot saved for the great Mariano Rivera, who is not only the best Yankee of this generation, I argue he may be the best player period of this generation. That is a different argument for a different day.

No, let’s have it now.

Mariano Rivera, career WAR: 54.1
Derek Jeter, career WAR: 70
Alex Rodriguez, career WAR: 104.4

Mariano Rivera has been amazing. Best relief pitcher of all time, bar none. But still: he’s a relief pitcher. Jeter and A-Rod have been vastly more valuable than Mo, and Barry Bonds (this will blow your mind) was as valuable as Derek Jeter and A-Rod put together:

Barrold Lamar Bonds, career WAR: 171.8

I mean, sure, you can argue that being the "greatest Yankee" or even the "greatest player" of your generation is not about what you actually do while playing baseball, but, rather, that it’s about your heart, and your intestines, and how much you "mean" to the team and your amazing "moments," such as how Mariano Rivera singlehandedly lost the 2001 World Series to the Diamondbacks, and exploded two nights in a row in the 2004 ALCS to give the Red Sox a pass to their first championship in 86 years. But if you do, I get to call you a lug nut.

You lug nut.

No offense to Jeter, but when it comes to the all-time Yankee greats, he is sitting at the children’s table, while Babe Ruth, Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra dine in style.

Babe Ruth, career WAR: 190 (1st all-time)
Lou Gherig, career WAR: 118.4 (16th)
Joe DiMaggio, career WAR: 83.6 (49th)
Mickey Mantle, career WAR: 120.2 (15th)
Yogi Berra, career WAR: 61.9 (140th)

And, once again:

Derek Jeter, career WAR: 70 (82nd)

He doesn’t belong in that group? I’m glad it’s not up to me to be the gatekeeper of the official Yankee Greats Clubhouse, because the criteria don’t make any fucking sense at all.

Either way I want the moment. Cal Ripken passing Gehrig was a big deal. Barry Bonds surpassing Hank Aaron should have been a big deal. It turned out to be a sham. This one is going to be nuts, even though it is something that has happened 27 other times.

That might be the dumbest paragraph in your whole article. Petulant, contentless, badly written.

Okay, no. The best one is still the one where you just typed some random nonsense words about Wrigley Field and Cincinnati and captains.

Selfishly I am hoping he either goes crazy and gets it in the next two days or goes into a major slump until about June 23rd, because more than likely I am going to be on a cruise somewhere in the Eastern Caribbean at the time he finally gets it.

Uh. Okay. Have fun on your trip! Don’t think too hard.

It probably serves me right. While I respect everything he’s done, I’ve just never been a big Jeter guy. Although, my kids have about five Jeter shirts and jerseys. So, it’s probably fitting that baseball gods seem to have gotten together in order for me to miss this.

Thankfully there is DVR.

Why are we talking about this? Nobody cares.

But like it won’t be the same if he gets it anywhere other than Yankee Stadium, it won’t be the same watching it however many days after it has already happened.

I see now that the life of a true Yankees fan is a difficult one.

June 13th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | 6 comments

Nintendo: naughty, naughty!

You seen the Wii U promo video from E3? That’s not really what I came here to talk about. What I came to talk about is this oddball bit at the very beginning, where this kid’s playing Mario and his dad’s like "hey, time for baseball" and just like shuts the game off, and then they watch this hilariously fake baseball game:

Mmm, 3D rendered baseball

I sure hope the Whites beat the Blues! But never mind that. Do you see anything in this picture that seems off at all? I mean, other than the general half-assedness of the whole thing. Anything in particular? Here, I’ve circled the bit I’m talking about:

I thought men like you were usually called a fruit

Fruit & Fruit? Fuck the heck? And what about that typeface? And the logo style? Have we seen this somewhere before? If only I could remember where…

Adam and Eve and Pinch-Me went down to the river to bathe...

Oh. I see. Naughty, naughty, Nintendo! Either you’re trying to sell gay sex toys to the innocent children of America, or else you’re making insensitive jokes about gay people and sex toys. And if there’s one thing I learned while I was in Uganda, it’s that being gay is bad, but lying is worse. So admit it, Nintendo!

June 13th, 2011 Posted by | Bullshit, Games | no comments

Facts? Data? Who are they?

Hate to break up LeBrongate 2.0 for a baseball post, but Kevin Kaduk absolutely loves the idea of divisional realignment in baseball. Loves it. Loves it so much he’s even willing to make up nonsense reasons why it would be great. Such as:

Best realignment possibility? Astros and Rangers sharing a division

Yeah, that’ll be exciting. All twelve of their fans would be thrilled.

ESPN’s Buster Olney stirred things up a bit over the weekend, reporting that Major League Baseball is considering a realignment that would leave each league with an even 15 teams and completely wipe out the divisions. The top five teams would make the postseason and, with an odd number of teams in each league, interleague play would be a constant on the schedule.

I still think that’s pointless and short-sighted, but it’s nice to see somebody finally noticing that two fifteen-team leagues would have to play a ton of interleague games. Even if it is just Olney.

The Houston Astros would be the one team calling the figurative moving vans as it’s presumed they’d be plucked from the six-team NL Central and placed into the now-skimpy AL West (which currently only hosts four teams).

That would be a weird choice, especially since, you know, once they’ve wiped out the divisions there’d be no need to thin the NL Central or pad the AL West, right? Am I the only one who’s noticed this?

Initial positive reaction: Evening out the leagues is a great and necessary idea, though MLB’s schedule-makers are probably already waking up in a cold sweat over the mere thought of reconfiguring the standard road trip.

People love to make this claim. Evening out the leagues is great and necessary why? So the moribund Cubs can be in fifth place in a five-team division instead of a six-team division? Oh, wait, but we’re getting rid of divisions, huh. So it’s really for Great Justice; what we’d be accomplishing is saving the Astros from the indignity of finishing in sixteenth place by moving them into a different league so they can be in fifteenth place instead. Which is obviously more fair. How do you baseball fucks live with yourselves knowing that you’re unfairly depriving the Astros of this privilege?

And as Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi writes, the Astros are the only logical candidate to switch stripes, even if their fans and players say they prefer to stay in the NL.

What? No, that’s wrong. Arlington — where the Rangers play — is only FF miles from Houston. That puts two teams in the same league very near each other and leaves no teams in the other league in or even very near Texas. Milwaukee is the obvious choice (they were in the AL until rather recently, in fact). Though, frankly, if the fans and players really do prefer that they stay in the NL, why don’t we do that instead of smoothing out the aesthetics to suit journalists?

(The one point where I sympathize with their gripe is the time zone conundrum: Those games in Oakland, Anaheim and Seattle will start awful late, though fans of the Texas Rangers have been doing it for years.)

Kevin. Listen to me slowly. This plan involves getting rid of divisions. The Astros would not be playing more games on the west coast, because dummy sportswriters care more about the theoretical unfairness of the unbalanced schedule than about what fans or teams want. That is the whole point of the arbitrary rebuild. Please try to pay attention.

Initial negative reaction: Hate, hate, HATE the idea of nuking the divisions.

Oh. I see. So you like everything about this plan, except for the plan itself. That’s good. Good thinkin’.

While Rob Neyer thinks we’ll soldier on just fine with a "first division" of five teams, I will submit that there’s nothing quite like saying you’re on your way to watch a first-place team. Why would baseball eliminate six races for first and opt for two races for fifth instead? No matter what you think about the value of a division title, we can all agree that no one is going to raise a flag saying they finished fifth one year.

This. This exactly. Fans do not care about the (actually very tiny) element of unfairness in the divisional system. They do care — a lot — about their team being in first or second place as opposed to fifth or seventh place. It’s more fun. Gets people more interested in the game. Rockies fans can be interested in the team — they’ve had a rough start, but, hell, they’re still in third! Only five games out, right? In the "divisionless" NL, they’d be eleventh. And everyone would stop paying attention.

At any rate, combine both of those takes above and we’re left with my ideal situation and a very underrated dynamic that would be created by placing both Texas teams in the AL West.

Oh. I see. So your "ideal situation" would be to get the NL the hell out of Texas, mash the Astros into a league they don’t want to be in, make their fans stay up really late because most of their games would start two hours later, eliminate the Astros-Cubs and Astros-Cardinals rivalries entirely and just hope Astros-Mariners would catch on, and the payoff would be… what, actually? Cui bono?

Think about this for a second: By pairing the Astros and Rangers, baseball will finally create a great regional rivalry in that gaping hole between St. Louis and the West Coast.

Houston: 95°22’W
Kansas City: 94°58’W

Pretty sure Kevin Kaduk just gave a big f-you to the Royals right there.

The two teams are located about 250 miles apart from each other and handcuffing them together would give the Lone Star State — long considered an outpost by the rest of the league — an increased relevance and focus.

To the American League, maybe. It would close it off from the National League altogether.

Dedicated baseball fans in Texas often don’t get enough credit,

They have a hard time getting credit these days given how often they’ve wrecked the truck and then defaulted on Jimbo’s loan.

but a close race between the teams would give them a bigger spotlight, plus an opportunity to needle opposing fans in the flesh. That’s just something that doesn’t happen right now with both teams being the geographical anomaly in their current divisions.

2011 Texas rangers: 36 – 31, 1st place
2011 Houston Astros: 24 – 42, 6th place

That’s something that wouldn’t happen right now regardless.

June 13th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

You know what I like most about basketball?

Nothing. But as a close second I’d pick Dan Wetzel’s juvenile LeBron James article. And since I’ve spent the last four solid days making fun of nothing, I suppose I should move on.

LeBron’s failure warms Cleveland’s heart

You stay classy, Dan.

Late Sunday night, a crowd of Clevelanders gathered here to watch their onetime hero turned all-time traitor, and with each disinterested LeBron offensive possession, each failed LeBron chase down of Jason Terry, each embarrassing LeBron crunch-time turnover, the prevailing emotion was simple.


Disinterested! Embarrassing! Traitor! These are all technical basketball terms that mean "A-Rod."

They weren’t hating LeBron here. They were laughing at him.

But why were they laughing at him? Was it because he was wearing a red foam-rubber nose and spraying Dirk Nowitzki in the face with seltzer during free-throw attempts? Or perhaps because, like Ron Artest, he’s doing a stand-up comedy tour?

Oh, wait, no. They were laughing at him because they hate him, huh. They hate him because he left their pissant little town and moved to Miami, where he was such a gutless choker that he only managed to get his team to the Finals, where they only won two games. And how good was LeBron James? Please. He only barely led the entire NBA in win shares. And in playoff win shares. But he came up small when it counted, climaxing in a dramatic game six in which he was only the second-best player on his own team. Seriously, did Dwayne Wade even show up for that game? Where are the "Wade is a giant choker" articles?

(Meanwhile, the LeBron-less Cavs were a conference-worst 19-63. Good riddance, L-Rod!)

LeBron started it, of course, laughing at Cleveland nearly a year ago when he took himself to a Boys and Girls Club in Connecticut of all places to announce on national television that he was taking his talents to South Beach.

That was pretty weird, I agree. What I don’t think it was: a deliberate, calculated fuck-you to Cleveland.

That South Beach has about a million nightclubs and technically no basketball arena said it all.

Personally, I’d say that the Cavs going 19-63 and the Heat making the Finals says more.

All over Flannery’s and places like it across Ohio, they cracked oft-told jokes. ("I asked LeBron for a dollar, he gave me 75 cents back. He doesn’t have a fourth quarter.")

I asked A-Rod for a dollar. He grounded into a double play instead. Suck it, A-Rod! Ya burnt!

"They showed pictures on their cell phones mocking LeBron for a quitter."

"For" a quitter? Shouldn’t a professional writer not write like he’s ten years old? Wait, no, better question: shouldn’t you have an editor?

Bartenders rang bells and shouted things like, "Last call for LeBron."

I’m pretty sure that, just like A-Rod, he’ll get tossed out of the league for not quite winning a championship single-handedly in a team sport in a year in which he led the league in, like, everything.

They mostly reveled in the beauty of a night right out of their wildest dreams, LeBron coming up small on the biggest of stages, standing around as lesser talents on the Dallas Mavericks blocked his shortcut to a NBA title, winning the game 105-95, the series 4-2.

Yeah, fuck you, LeBron. Choker. You think you’re such a big shit? That new team of yours is good? Well, here’s a hard dose of reality for you: your supposedly "great" team only won two games in the Finals. Meanwhile, the gritty, gutsy, hard-playing no-nonsense types you left behind for your team that never got any closer than 78.3% likely to win the championship won nineteen games! And did they choke in the playoffs? No they did not. So really, fuck you, LeBron. Or, as my new friends the Ugandans would say: hasa diga LeBron!

This was the girlfriend that dumped you getting dumped herself – only live in HD while an entire city toasted her comeuppance.

No hatred here.

"He can’t blame the supporting cast," Cavs fan Keith Clapacs said. "He can’t blame Mike Brown. There’s no excuses. Ball’s in your hand and you didn’t do it. It’s your elimination game, and Jason Kidd is diving on the floor for loose balls? You’re losing the hustle plays, committing turnovers?"

Dwayne Wade committed almost as many turnovers in game six as LeBron — five to six — while posting miserable field goal (.375) and three-point (.000!) rates, and one more personal foul (3 to 2). Offensively, LeBron was way, way more valuable than Wade. Can he blame Wade, then?

"It’s the whole too-cool-to-care thing. He was too cool to care."

Caring about the Finals is uncool, so LeBron didn’t bother. That’s the theory here. Clearly it’s not uncool to care about the regular-season, where LeBron led the entire NBA in win shares and win shares/48 minutes. Or the playoffs, either, which he led in win shares regardless of his kind of smelly Finals. No, the only thing that’s uncool is caring about game six of the Finals — and since we established through logic and science that all LeBron cares about is going out to clubs, that coolness matters to him. Finally winning a championship would seem positively gauche.

From Miami, LeBron would later send his message to them, to the folks enjoying his failure.

"At the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail – at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today," James said. "They have the same personal problems they had today …

"They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point."

Kind of weirdly melodramatic, but the dude’s taking a lot of thoughtless flak from assholes like Dan Wetzel lately.

A sentiment to which Ryan Smith, an insulation installer from Mentor, Ohio, with a Jameson on the rocks in front of him, offered this simple response:

"[Expletive] LeBron James."

Does Ryan Smith from Mentor, Ohio choke in pressure situations? Fuck no. Once, while installing some insulation, Larry dropped the caulking gun. And did Ryan choke? No sir — he manned up, picked up that caulking gun, and closed the book on that fibreglass sheet. Like a boss.

Also, Dan, since you clearly know you can’t swear in print, maybe try finding quotes for your article that include stuff other than swear words. When you redact the whole thing like that you kind of look like a boob.

Perhaps there’s no greater example of the life of a Cleveland sports fan than watching a series not involving your team so you can root for someone to lose.

I for one have never just rooted for the Fat Louis Fatinals to lose. Nor do I know any Red Sox fans who have ever rooted against the Yankees. Nor any Patriots fans rooting against the Colts. And I certainly don’t know a Chargers fan who hates the Patriots with every fibre of his being. You’re 100% on the money, Dan Wetzel — rooting against a team you hate is a phenomenon exclusive to Cleveland.

No city has lost like this one, not a single major professional sports championship since 1964, when the Browns won a pre-Super Bowl NFL title.

My city doesn’t even have a team. So, while we certainly haven’t been losing, we ain’t exactly won neither. And I can’t go to any games, even if it is just to bitch and whine that my team only makes the ALCS every five years or so.

You want collapses? The 1997 World Series is as bad as anything the Cubs or Red Sox ever dealt with. It’s just this city doesn’t have the media poets to chronicle it like Chicago or Boston.

Bullshit. Bull fucking shit, Dan Wetzel. The Indians didn’t "collapse" in the 1997 World Series — they won games 2, 4, and 6. That’s what we call "going back and forth." Or do you mean game seven? Not much of a collapse either — they lost 3-2 in extras on a two-out, bases-loaded Edgar Renteria single. Do you know what "collapse" means? Because, really, that ain’t it.

A collapse is what happened to the 2003 Cubs, who were up 3-1 in the NLCS before pissing it away. And in the pivotal game six, brought a 3-1 lead into the eighth, got five outs from the World Series, and then allowed the Marlins (coincidentally) to spin a costly error on a routine double play ball and fan interference on a shallow fly into a seven-run inning.

Or how about the Red Sox that same year? When they also pulled up to five outs from the pennant before Grady Little reckoned it was smart to put a wiped-out Pedro Martinez back on the mound in the eighth to rack up 123 pitches, and he gave up three runs? And then Aaron Boone — he of the 9.5 career WAR — chunked a Tim Wakefield knuckler (the first pitch of the half) into the stands to complete the kill?

Or what about the Yankees in 2004? Now that was a collapse.

And then there was this, LeBron James, the local kid from Akron, the one who claimed he understood your heartache, the one you defended for years, the one that was finally going to deliver sporting glory. He bails for some fair-weather sports town and an arena full of white-covered chairs with pretty people who can’t even be bothered to watch the game while it’s going on.

Did I mention that the Cavs won nineteen games this year? Perhaps LeBron bailed because he was sick of wasting his prime years on a franchise that wouldn’t or couldn’t get any other good players.

Yet LeBron’s take, the same one that too often has been bandied about nationally, doesn’t begin to understand the emotions in Cleveland.


It’s too trite and small to view Cleveland as some bottomed-out, post-industrial postcard to the past.

That’s true. It’s better to view Cleveland as yet another mid-sized city being devoured by its own government.

These aren’t all people trapped in awful times or terrible circumstances or living small lives in jealousy of LeBron’s big one.

Not all of them, no. Just all the ones Dan Wetzel wants to talk about.

There’s money here. There is success in Cleveland. There is contentment. As sure as there are poor in Miami, as sure as the VIP area of the Mansion Nightclub isn’t the full reality of South Florida, neither is some boarded-up East Cleveland warehouse the story here.

There are doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs and financial planners and artists and teachers and dreamers and, yes, insulation installers. ("In the column can you mention the company, Pure Seal Inc.?")

There are happy families and neighborhoods and the American Dream in full view. There are plenty of people who don’t have any personal problems who are quite content to keep their talents in Cleveland, a place they love just the way it is.

What the hell is this? You aren’t writing the Great American Sports Column, Dan Wetzel. Get back to whinging about how much LeBron James offended your head.

The Cavs drew people together, city and suburb, white and black, rich and poor. They also connected family and friends. They gave reason to send a text message to someone you had drifted away from. They provided a reason to share an experience with your parents or your children or both. They offered an excuse to catch a game with a high school buddy.

Also they gave LeBron James like literally no supporting cast at all. Maybe if the Cavs were more serious about building a good franchise rather than just milking their local superstar for all he’s worth, he’d have been more keen to stay.

LeBron James had the right to leave. And Cleveland has the right to laugh.

Didn’t you just get through maudlining a long-winded rant at me about how Clevelanders aren’t all the same and don’t all fit into the hackneyed stereotypes lazy journalists like to write? And then this. Well, you have the right to be a hack and a hypocrite. And I have the right to make fun of you for it.

June 13th, 2011 Posted by | Games | no comments