A Plea: Cleveland?…Seek Alternatives To Sports Championships!

I have been a long time supporter of all the Cleveland professional sports teams. In my older years, I have learned to not get so caught up in the drama that can accompany the games, good or bad. I admit, it is addictive and taps into emotions we never knew we had. This past year, just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water with being a part of the high of the spectacular Cavaliers basketball season….and after the they collapsed once again in the playoffs, I admit, the same feelings of disappointment returned that we all felt with past Cleveland sports heartbreaking and haunting moments like “Red Right 88“, “The Drive”, “The Fumble”, “The Shot”, “The Hit”, “The Choke”…….and this latest debacle of a performance against the Celtics that I am sure will be named soon.

For too long—and since Cleveland fans are loyal to a fault—we have seemingly embraced the idea of a professional sports championship (which I admit is long overdue!) as the be all end all cure for erasing our poor self esteem, civic pride and image too many of us have of our city/region—AND—as a cure for the national image as well. Many of us have centered all our hopes, dreams and economic success potentials around the ideology that if our teams are not winning it all, the we cannot be successful as a city/region and that the rest of the world must think we suck! The fact is, the rest of the world probably could care less about what our sports teams are doing if they came to visit Cleveland with a clean slate.

What has all this taught me personally? Well, I have concluded that many Clevelanders/N.E. Ohioans may want to start viewing other ways we can be champions; to stop solely turning to sports and sports figures for our heroes—or their successes or failures to define who we are as a people, city and region. When one turns to this arena for defining who we are, we set ourselves up for major disappointments, as we have seen. And, if we choke in the big one, all life as we know it seems to cease to exist!

I think it is time we set our priorities straight and in an attempt to do so—or at least find out where they are—in a moment, I will list a few questions of thought that many of us die-hard frustrated and tortured Cleveland sports fans may want to do a little soul searching and ask themselves. To assume if we are not winning the big one in sports, we are failures, really underestimates the diversity, intelligence, best-kept-secrets, and dynamics of this city/region.

How can we become champions in other ways?….. How about environmentally, socially, and economically? (seeing that these three categories upon which we have failed in the past, happened to be some of the biggest culprits of damaging our reputation)

Let’s think about it…… Hmmmmmmmmm…………

1. Sports championship, or champions and leaders in a new kind of environmental stewardship that demonstrates a 360 degree turn around from our polluting past—and such that will erase in the minds of everyone…any burning river or “mistake-by-the-lake” joke our city has ever had to endure? How about champions in cleaner waterfront/shoreline, riverbanks, and air?

2. Sports championship or attracting and embracing a new entrepreneurial population that will bring new unique ideas and visions for Cleveland? Champions in attracting new people who discover potentials in our city of which many locals have lost sight, and who will make our city more demographically diverse and attractive to new residents and businesses? How about being Champions in reducing crime and social dysfunction, that to many, is accepted as the norm? How about being champions in reducing rampant obesity? Afterall, a healthy population produces better widgets and is more productive in the economy!

3. Sports championship or champions in creating the finest rail transportation network in the country and greatly reducing the city’s carbon footprint and dependency on oil and creating a whole new host of jobs? How about taking advantage of the new wave effort in the world of achieving sustainability by becoming a world leader in attracting green jobs (green collar jobs!)?

4. Sports championship or making Cleveland a world destination city with many attributes and attractions for all?

5. Oh…and here is something that just might be a bit thought provoking: Sports championship or champions in creating a world class public school system that will turn out bright, critically thinking youngsters who will evolve into the kind of citizens the world respects–and who can help solve (instead of being so much a part of, for a change)…a world crisis such as climate change?

Indeed, all the above can be done even if the sports teams fail. All can help to raise the lack of self esteem that plots Clevelanders often, as its own worst enemy by creating the pervasive “woe-Is Me” and nobody likes us persona. If the sports teams go in the dumper, then it won’t matter that much because we will have so many other elements to offer that will make us a great place…and feel better about ourselves. Guess what? Cleveland already has many great attributes and more to come in the future, but because we often gets way too caught up in sports addiction, we fail to recognize the special or important things we take for granted here. Listing them all is for another article, another day.

So, back to the important lesson: Here is my plea: Cleveland/N.E. Ohio, instead of banking all life’s happiness and your perception of our area on whether LeBron stays or leaves…..whether or not we win a championship in sports and risk feeling miserable if things don’t go our way, why not take the time to discover the many other reasons we should be celebrating? (You are not the only city in the world with problems…or sports teams that have had bad luck!) Afterall, there are many ways we can be champions! Let’s take the time to discover just how many ways in which we can. I just listed a few ideas of my own in how I would like to see our city excel—or ways in which I feel it is already making important strides in the right direction. As for the sports, it will happen when we least expect it!

If you’re still preferring the sports champions to many ideas I have mentioned in how we can be champions…OR, if you cannot think of an original idea of your own, then such a decision would only reaffirm my belief that many of us have a serious priority and sports addiction issue here!

I have finished slaughtering this sacred cow! Now, Cleveland… Go be a champion!

Posted by Angry Man In The Basement at 8:14 PM No comments:


Here are my rather repetitive and ranting thoughts shared with The Cleveland Cavaliers front office.

Dear Cleveland Cavaliers front office,

I am enjoying the success of this ’09 season and have supported the team for several years, however, I have an issue that I would like to bring forth. This issue is about the overkill with the automated noise in the arena from start to finish of the game–either when the Cavs are on offense or defense.

If you take close notice, fans KNOW when to get into the game; they are not stupid! How many times can you notice, that while you insist on playing loud and obnoxious music constantly, and urge fans to ‘clap their hands’ and say ‘defense’ ….. that most of the fans simply ignore this childish attempt to generate enthusiasm? Why? Maybe it is because we are tired of having it forced down our throats.

I am not saying that what you do is not at all acceptable at times in the game—but you are completely operating in an overkill mode to the point this may do the opposite of what it is supposedly intended to do, and that is, generate enthusiasm—BECAUSE…. Why should fans make the noise and control the level of cheering when the machine is doing it for them?

I strongly urge you to ease up on this a bit and let us do what we do best, and that is, make our own noise to cheer on the cavaliers to a win. We are not baby’s that need to be told ‘everybody clap your hands’ Nor is everyone keen on having rap and hip hop crammed down our throats! Teams won championships for years without this nonsense and maybe it is time the Cavs entertainment people allow the fans to concentrate on the game and learn how and when to get loud to give the team the extra edge. You are producing the ultimate in stupidity in a fan; treating them like robots!

Imposing your agenda from start to finish with no break is truly insulting to our intelligence. The artificial noise assault on us from the moment the ball its tipped is just plain stupidity. If you think I am the only one who shares this feeling, you would be surprised to learn what you could learn if you asked many fans about it.

Who asked for this, anyway? Let me repeat, just as you keep repeating the same nonsense at the games…..If you are not already DEAF from the overkill of artificial noise, please listen up: We know how to get up and get loud without your constant ‘patty cake, patty cake’ attempt to tell us what to do!

Please see the article below from a Mets fan and you will see that in NY, the same is happening in their baseball stadium and quite a few of us are over it. If the Cavs are as a professional organization I think they are, they will not defend this nonsense, but rather, get back with me and assure me they just may try easing up on it just a bit. When you do, you will see what we can do best on our own from start to finish.

By the way, I don’t want to hear how your surveys on ‘game presentation’ indicate that all the fans love what you’re doing. Any “survey” can pose questions in such a way that would give the entity offering the survey, the results they want. I could ask the same fans who the Cavs say approve of the presentation about game in my own way….that would have 90% agreeing that they could cut back on the overkill of artificial noise during the game.

I am ok with the intros, LeBron’s chalk toss and all……but the constant pounding during the game is where the problem is—whether it is needed or not. You really need to see what you are contributing to in causing a future drain on health care in this country by helping to produce deafness. Please learn more about the negative effects on the body induced from unnatural and excessive noise at www.noiseoff.org

Finally, you seem to have this preconceived notion that constant artificial noise is what all of the fans want, or that somehow, it makes the players play better. As the old saying goes, however, too much of anything is not good. In reality, no one asked for what you do. I think your agenda more so represents the corporate pandering and kissing up to a certain media market. Again, please stop force feeding it down our throats. GO CAVS!

Here is the article that echoes all the above… Thanks for reading and I look forward to your feedback and not a brush off…

What makes a great baseball park
by Frank Nunziata

Imagine going to a Major League Baseball game in 2007 and experiencing the joy of the game as you did when you were a child, while still being regarded by your favorite team as an adult. If you visit Shea Stadium in New York City, that’s not going to happen. But a funny thing happened to me at Wrigley Field in Chicago recently.

I realized that baseball, for the sake of baseball, still existed.

I own a partial season ticket plan for my beloved New York Mets. I attend over twenty games a year. I have seen the “Shea experience” deteriorate year-by-year, and I’m not talking about Shea as a structure that needs to be replaced. A new stadium will not repair the chintzy, childish and downright obnoxious ancillary entertainment the Mets organization produces 81 times a year.

I spend so much time at Shea that I had almost forgotten what it was like to fully enjoy a baseball game. Wrigley reminded me. Each time a batter stepped up to the plate, music did not blare at an excruciating volume over the public address system. If that same batter happened to reach base, the only sound you heard was cheering proportionate to the game situation; you did not hear the loud, celebratory music that you might hear, say, if the home team had won the World Series. The fans make the noise at Wrigley. They control the volume. They are trusted to do their jobs as fans.

You will on occasion hear music, other than traditional ballpark organ music, at Wrigley Field. Background music. Music so subtle that the public address announcer can speak over it; gentle enough so that you can speak to the person next to you without screaming. At Wrigley, the only music that takes center stage is that day’s unique rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” an ode to why everyone showed up to the park in the first place.

The absence of a giant television screen at Wrigley Field goes unnoticed. Eyes are constantly affixed on the field save for mandatory glances at the small electronic scoreboards displaying the count and the outs. The manual scoreboard in center is a sight to behold and not a distraction of gaudy graphics and foolish requests for crowd noise or worse, a beckoning to “do the wave.” The Cub fan is encouraged to watch the game in front of them.

I realize that it’s impossible to replicate the Wrigley Field experience anywhere else on earth. The unique event is a perfect storm created by a committed fan base, a wonderful old ballpark, a rich baseball history and many other factors. Cub fans own it and it’s theirs to keep. But the Cubs organization clearly helps cultivate and encourage it. They are partners with the fans and in no way insult them, “dumb them down” or attempt to provide anything more than a beautiful and fun place most conducive to watching the game of baseball.

The Mets, on the other hand, have hit rock bottom. They officially jumped the shark this year when they added a “Sweet Caroline” sing-along/ video montage that takes place in the middle of the eighth inning. This is something they do in Boston’s Fenway Park and was featured in a scene of the horrible movie “Fever Pitch.” Yes, the New York Mets, playing in the so-called capital of everything, have resorted to stealing cheesy, overwrought foolishness from New England and Hollywood.

The question of course is, who are they are entertaining? The loud music that accompanies every aspect the game, the silly contests between innings, the constant nonsense bouncing off each and every corner of the stadium; who is enjoying this? Who asked for it? When did this major league city become enthralled with minor league entertainment?

Perhaps the Mets would respond with something along the lines of “we’re appealing to younger fans.” But the Mets should do themselves and their young fans a favor: They should introduce them to baseball for the sake of baseball. Young fans have plenty of other outlets to hear loud, crappy music and to be inundated with foolishness. Encourage them to learn to appreciate the game of baseball and the simple joy of a day at the ballpark. A scan through any section of the stands was proof that everyone, young and old, enjoyed themselves during my visit to Wrigley.

I am not suggesting that the Mets turn back the clock and turn Shea Stadium, or Citifield in 2009, into a faux mecca of a bygone era in baseball. What I am suggesting is that the Mets start exercising some common sense and strive for stadium decorum appropriate to the great game of baseball. They can start by turning down the volume. And when the eighth place hitter knocks a two-out single in the seventh inning of a 10-1 game, they can remove the music altogether.

The Mets have my personal guarantee that fans will still attend their games, even if the thunderous voice of MC Hammer is not coaxing them to clap their hands every ten minutes. I can also guarantee that fans will still have fun, even if cheap t-shirts are not shot from a bazooka between innings. I can guarantee this because I know that even though New York City may be behind the times, baseball for the sake of baseball still prospers across the land.

Posted by Angry Man In The Basement at 12:01 PM