Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Bad Win, A Good Loss

When it comes to the NBA, we think, as Tom Robbins' character Andy Dufresne told the court in "The Shawshank Redemption" that we've been quite clear on this point: most of what happens in the regular season is irrelevant. And in that vein we don't think there was much relevance in last night's Cleveland Cavaliers victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

But what did catch our eye was Terry Pluto's column about the game in this morning's Akron Beacon Journal. Essentially Pluto complains because the Cavs lacked a certain amount of intensity once they got up by 21 points in the second quarter. As a result, they barely hung on for the victory. In other words, in Pluto's view, it was a bad loss.

The reason this intrigued us so much was that we inadvertently tuned to WTAM 1100 on Monday night and had a chance to listen to sports troll Mike Trivisonno, an opinionated, intellectually-limited bigot, interview Browns owner Randy Lerner and GM Phil Savage. The most interesting aspect of Trivisonno is the fact that he doesn't just not bite the hand that feeds him, he goes out of his way to lick the plate clean for them. Anytime he has a Browns, Indians, or Cavs "official" on his show for an interview, Trivisonno immediately becomes house apologist, finding all manner of good with nary a negative take on any aspect of their operations.

And the interview with Lerner and Savage were Trivisonno at his best or worst, depending on your perspective. (Here is a link to the podcasts.) As listeners we learned that the Browns loss to the Steelers was, in Trivisonno's words, a good loss. Lerner readily agreed, citing the alleged progress the team is making. Savage likewise agreed and then proceeded to tell us that he has gone back to review the first-year starter statistics of quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and a few others and compared them with Browns quarterback Charlie Frye. According to Savage (and we're not making this quote up), Frye is "virtually in the same ball park" as these others. "Not the best, but not the worst either."

So this is what we've been reduced to: With the Cavs we find much to fault about their win. With the Browns we find much to love about their loss. That, friends, is the essence of why it is so difficult to be a fan of Cleveland sports. The only thing worse than failure is success. More in love with pretty losses than ugly wins.

The last time we checked, the object of each of our professional sports teams was to win ball games. If you win and win consistently, good things tend to happen, like championships. When you lose and lose consistently, bad things ten to happen, like relocation.

We'd argue that we deserve better from a radio station like WTAM. But at this juncture the only ones that listen to it for reasons other than game broadcasts are shut-ins, family members of its employees, and a few saps who mistakenly hit the wrong button on the car radio. We'd argue that we deserve better from a columnist like Terry Pluto. But the one thing we know is that Pluto writes so often and changes his mind so frequently, the chance of anything he says anymore lingering is minimal.

What we would argue, though, is that the teams you get you deserve. We expect the teams, through paid shills like Trivisonno, to try to convince us that losses are good. But as fans, if we buy into that concept, then we don't deserve success. Which is convenient since its not likely to come anytime soon anyway.

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