I'm a columnist for the University of Iowa student newspaper, The Daily Iowan. Here's what I wrote for today.
By: Andrew Swift - The Daily Iowan
Major League Baseball's playoffs start this week. My beloved Cleveland Indians are set to host the evil New York Yankees, beginning Thursday. It's been six long years since the Tribe was in the playoffs. I feel like an Israelite after discovering the Promised Land.
I have class. Worse, I have a paper due Friday.
Let's get this straight. I have a hard enough time going to class when the Indians are playing the White Sox in some meaningless April game. Now, we're in the playoffs - and midterms just happen to coincide with the second season.
A couple of phenomena need to be addressed. Most people frown upon using "we" in reference to ones favored sports teams. As a Cleveland fan, I've earned this right. You can't religiously follow the Indians, Browns, and Cavaliers and still classify yourself as an optimist.
We're not cursed. We just have terrible luck. Elway, Jordan, Jose Mesa - pick a dramatic sports moment in the last 30 years, and there's a good shot a Cleveland team was on the wrong end of it. Early on, a Cleveland fan becomes conditioned to always look for the other shoe to drop.
The Browns have never won a Super Bowl. The Cavaliers had never even made the NBA Finals before last year. But neither of those franchises draws the same loyalty from me as the Indians, who haven't won a World Series since 1948. During last year's NBA Finals, I secretly hoped for the San Antonio Spurs to beat the Cavaliers so the Indians could be my first championship.
I don't even have any ties to Cleveland. The first baseball game I attended, back in 1992, was Cleveland at Milwaukee. The Indians' center fielder, Kenny Lofton, quickly became my favorite ballplayer, and from that point on, I was an Indians fan. The Indians' reacquisition of him this past July is a sign of destiny.
In my memoirs, there'll be an entire chapter dedicated to Kenny Lofton. (No way am I editing that. - ed.)
When the Indians made a late run in 2005 toward October, I wore a jersey every day for a month. When they choked the last week of that year, I felt God had forsaken me. The last Friday of the regular season, I spent 45 blacked-out minutes detailing how much "I love these guys" to a few friends. Though I take a lot of hell for it to this day, I refuse to feel ashamed.
Naturally, I've since taken to strict silence regarding how well I think the Tribe will fare in the postseason. I don't want to blame myself for any crushing defeats. Some might argue I'm acting irrationally. They would be right.
I'm dead scared of the Yankees - not because I necessarily think they're a better team, but because I can't stomach the thought of bowing out in the first round. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman - a fitting name for the Yankees GM - is beginning to eerily resemble Russian President Vladimir Putin in my eyes. I have nightmarish memories of the Indians series with the Yankees in April, when a six-run outburst off Joe Borowski in the bottom of the ninth propelled the Yankees to a sweep.
If we advance, I may be placed in the wonderful position of facing the favorite team of both my editor and my best friend. The taunting that would come from a Red Sox victory over the Indians would be crushing. (This is true. -ed.) But my greatest fear is of a successful postseason run, culminating in the Tribe becoming the bandwagon team du jour. Winning would be unfathomably amazing - but the Jhonny-come-lately crowd would deflate my elation. (Somehow, this is spelled correctly. - ed.)
I can't even speak to my father, because I know he'll bring it up. Sorry, Pops, it isn't personal. Countless friends will claim I've finally lost my mind, as I avoid them for no reason. My social life is guaranteed to evaporate during the playoffs - by choice. Other posters on the Indians blog I spend countless hours reading will become virtually my only human contact.
I won't be hungry. I won't sleep well. I'll be grouchy, moody, and prone to both random bouts of laughter and tears. Clearly, I'm a basket case. But this is what love is supposed to be. Go Tribe.
DI columnist Andrew Swift is on the warpath. E-mail him at email@example.com with warpaint. © Copyright 2007 Daily Iowan