Well, it happened. Not in the five-game spanking all the analysts seemed to predict, but it happened. The Cubs won the series. The curse lifted. A national narrative fulfilled. And it seems like everyone in America, from Bill Murray to Eddie Vedder to Hillary Rodham Clinton, is happy about it. Everybody, of course, except the good people of the city on the banks of the Cuyahoga.
No one wanted this for Cleveland except Cleveland. Poorly photoshopped jokes (From TBS, mind you... TBS, a network that, outside the playoffs, would have no ratings if not for Seinfeld and Family Guy reruns; a channel for whom the pinnacle of original programming was My Boys) and fellatic national coverage of the Cubs made it absolutely clear that the goodwill we’d engendered from The Comeback would not extend itself to the World Series.
It was Ohio against the world, but this time, no one cared. We were no one’s lovable underdogs but our own. And that’s poor consolation when half the shots of the Jake (yeah, it's still the Jake) are filled with Cubs fans (to Tribe ticket holders who sold Game 7 tickets to Chicagoans: I hear Miami is great this time of year, and they’re always willing to take on bandwagon fans).
In sports, greatness happens against Cleveland.
What this loss has demonstrated, if the Browns weren’t a reminder enough already, is that we’re far from bulletproof. The NBA title was electrifying. It lightened the national chip on my shoulder I’ve felt since I was old enough to understand what Cleveland looked like to the rest of the world. Even now, I can feel it taking some of the sting from this collective Game 7 hangover.
But our past and our patterns can’t be erased. We were the city on whom The Shot and The Drive were executed; we’re now the town where the Curse of the Goat was broken. In sports, greatness happens against Cleveland.
It takes time to crawl out of post-industrial hell. It’s not going to happen, for our sports teams or our city, all at once. And if it did, as Mike Polk pointedly asked, who would we be? Boston fans? Gross.
The year 2016 has been a kick-ass one to be in Cleveland, but we still have work to do. Not just offseason training: We have to rebuild our school system. We have to feed our hungry and food-insecure. And we have to dig deep and ask ourselves: Are we really OK with this team name and mascot?
Greatness happens against us, it’s true. But it also happens because of us. We have learned, time and time again, the truth of the words of LeBron James: “In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have."
Now that the Cubs have broken their century-long drought -- and sure, congratulations to them -- the title falls to us. We’re back to being the (potentially) lovable underdogs again.
I don’t think we’d have it any other way.
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