Reflection Time: Being a Cleveland Sports Fan in 2011

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I had the strangest dream last night. I woke up in a cold sweat, scared. The wind was howling outside. I felt different, things felt strange. I realized that my dream had brought about something very real, very tangible. My strange, ethereal, vision had transferred into the real world. I had been enlightened. More on that later. First, I’ve got to tell you guys about this dream.

It started in some kind of hellish, fiery post-apocalyptic nightmare land. It wasn’t pretty. I wandered around this burning city for a few minutes when I came to something that was really rather disturbing: I saw Mike Brown crucified. Dude was dead, like real dead. I thought myself, “I have to get out of here!” – I turned around to run, but instead of running away from the mayhem, I ran straight into Mo Williams. He was wearing a white suit and eating a chalupa. He looked me up and down, stuffed the rest of his chalupa in his mouth, and asked me if I wanted to see the future.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do in this situation. First of all, I was a little star-struck. It was Mo! He was my favorite! Second of all, that chalupa looked really tasty (apparently I’m a hungry sleeper) – and finally, I was a little spooked. I’d never seen a dead guy before, especially not a dead, offensively inept but defensively sound ex-coach.

Apparently, I thought for too long. Maybe time was off in the dream, I don’t know, but Mo Williams suddenly became very, very angry. “IF WE DON’T GET OUT OF HERE SOON, THE GHOSTS OF TIM COUCH AND KELLY HOLCOMB ARE GOING TO SHOW UP!,” he bellowed, “and after that, Wally Sczerbiak! I really don’t want to see him. He’ll slap my ass and yours. It’ll be awkward. C’mon, man, get it together. We have to go see someone.”

He grabbed me by my arm and lead me into a sewer drain, except when we got inside, it wasn’t a sewer drain at all. It was a palace, and Mike Holmgren was there, dressed somewhere between Purple Rain-era Prince and Shredder. He was watching a magic show. Weird, I know. Mike looked at me and said, “Adam, you’ve been brought here for a very special reason. You’re going to see the future face of Cleveland sports. The savior of the Cuyahoga. You are the prophet! The chosen one! Now GO! Before it’s too late!”

The room swirled and disappeared all around me. I felt taken apart, my limbs and organs de-constructed. There was a terrible noise, some kind of shrieking banshee in the night. And the smell, the smell was terrible. Suddenly, it all stopped. I was on a plane. Shaq was there, meditating, wearing a robe. Boyz II Men was playing quietly, contemplatively, in the background. Shaq looked at me, smiled, and asked, “Do you wanna go to Wendy’s?” I replied, feeling rather grumpy – I just got atomized and put back together again! – “No.”

That, apparently, was the wrong answer. Shaq let out a terrifying, guttural scream, and I passed out.

When I came to, I saw seated in front of a chessboard. Kenny Lofton was sitting across from me. There were like 7,000 golden gloves on the shelf behind him.

“Hey, Adam, sorry about that man. Shaq’s weird sometimes,” he said apologetically.

“It’s alright, I guess. So what’s going on here? I’m confused. Holmgren said I was supposed to see the future of Cleveland sports somehow. Something about a savior?” I remember feeling surprised that I could talk to Kenny so freely. He’s my favorite Indian of all time, and if I saw him now I would stutter and trip over my words, but in the dreams we were the best of friends.

“Ah, yes.” Kenny moved one of his pawns a few spaces forward. “My suspicions are correct. You are the chosen one.  We have much to see.”

I groaned. I was sick of being hurled around, transported from place to place, all of it. Kenny clapped his hands, and instantly we were floating above Pro Player Stadium in Miami. The air was warm around me, a calm breeze was blowing. The dull roar of the crowd below was comforting. I noticed that we were on some kind of magical, flying motorcycle.

“Kenny, where the hell did you get a magical motorcycle?”, I asked, soporifically.

“Don’t worry about it. Do you know where we are, Adam? Look at the scoreboard.”

I squinted, wiped the sleep from my eyes. I managed to make out that it was the bottom of the ninth. The score was 2-1. My heart sank.

I cried out, “This.. this is the last game of the ’97 world series!”

Kenny looked back at me. He had tears in his eyes. “Indeed.”

Things fell quiet after that. We watched the rest of the game in grim, awkward silence. When it was over, Kenny told me he wanted to demonstrate how this affected the people of Cleveland. He wanted to actualize the trauma, the heartbreak for me. We warped around, hurling ourselves through the space-time continuum. I saw people furious, burning pictures of Jose Mesa. I saw children crying. I saw myself, sound asleep. That’s right. I slept through the 1997 World Series.

Kenny and I went on like this for some time. We embarked on a whirlwind tour of Cleveland’s tortured sporting past. I saw John Elway destroy the hopes and dreams of the Browns nation. I saw Glavin and Maddox twin-tomahawk the Indians into defeat.  I saw Michael Jordan hit ‘The Shot’. I saw the Indians collapse against the mighty Boston Red Sox. It was painful. We stopped at Taco Bell sometime between ‘Red Right 88′ and ‘The Fumble’. Drew Carey was working the register.

At the end, we found ourselves floating above Quicken Loans Arena. I knew it was coming, but it still felt pretty awful to be there. Kenny made me watch the whole game. I don’t even think he could watch it, he walked away and started chatting with the dream-version of Kevin Garnett, who must have been there watching himself play. Asshole.

I watched LeBron do whatever he did in that game. Even seeing it a second time, it was perplexing. I watched Mo Williams  try his best. I even had a front row seat to LeBron’s fateful jersey-throw as he stormed into the locker room. I asked Kenny if I would have to watch ‘The Decision’ – thankfully, I didn’t. “I can’t stand that shit,” said Kenny.

After all that, I was wondering what the point of all this was. Why was I having this strange, prophetic dream? What was the meaning of all this?

That’s when Kenny Lofton morphed into Bob Feller, and I found myself in a dusty Iowa corn-field. He smiled at me.

“You’re probably wondering what the point of all this is. Well, actually, I know you are. This is your dream and I’m your subconscious.”

He turned around and walked into the corn that surrounded us, and I kept pace behind him.

“The history of Cleveland sports, Adam, is tortured. Ugly stuff. We’ve put all our eggs in one basket too many times. We’ve had those eggs shattered even more. I can see it now, everyone’s losing faith. We’re all bitter, reduced arguing and bickering amongst ourselves about who’s better and who’s worse and what’s wrong and everything in between. All in all, it means nothing. The front of the jersey was all that ever mattered, not the back. Now you’ve got to go; I’ve got some crops to harvest. Take a left here.”

I turned left and Bob continued forward. After a few minutes of stumbling through a cornfield, I found myself, miraculously, in Cleveland Browns Stadium. Blinded by the bright white stadium lights, I saw a few figures near the center of the field. I walked forward briskly, my breath visible in front of me.

Jim Brown was there; him and Bernie Kosar were playing catch. They waved, but didn’t invite me to come play – a good thing, I can’t throw a football to save my life. Instead, Jim just pointed up into the stands behind me. I looked and saw a small, wooden box.

I knew that was where I would find the next savior of Cleveland sports. I rushed forward, determined with prescience, my mind ablaze. Who could it be? Kyrie Irving? Colt McCoy? Some unknown pitcher, some unassuming, mild-mannered young kid somewhere, endlessly perfecting his slider? The possibilities were endless.

I held the box in my hand. It was really little, and obviously quite old. Someone had carved “LBJ SUX!” into it. I tentatively pulled it open, and a blinding light came out. I saw the Future of Cleveland Sports.

I awoke, like I said, in a cold sweat. Everything was dark around me. I felt different, strange; almost born again. I was enlightened. I shrugged my shoulders and mumbled a loud: “Weird.” I closed my eyes and went back to bed.

So who is it? Who’s the savior? The chosen one?

Who is the one that can save us all?

It’s you, it’s all of us. It’s not something on the front of the jersey or anything on the back; it is the people in the stands.

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