Paul Simon is on record, apparently, as stating that Graceland is the best song he's ever written. I was never much for Graceland and its unrelenting bass line; it reminds me of a chorus of cartoon frogs. Lately, though, I've started listening to a cover of the song done by The Tallest Man On Earth and the cover has made me notice Simon's lyrics for the first time. They're actually really sad, or at least wistful, in sharp contrast to the locomotive arrangement that Simon built around them. If I was a better listener, I guess I would've noticed the significance of that choice the umpteenth time I was choosing to skip past the original Graceland.
The song is about Simon's painful separation from Carrie Fisher and there's this terribly sad line, "She comes back to tell me she's gone, as if I didn't know that, as if I didn't know my own bed." Of course he knew that his wife had left him; he didn't need a summary report to know the state of things.
This brings me to the long, painfully mundane vision quest that has been the Cleveland Indians offseason. It's been like a walkabout where no one remembered the peyote and, hey was that an animal? No? Just dust? Ok. As we wander aimlessly through free agency wilderness, seemingly every national outlet feels the obligation to put a bow on the Cleveland Indians, letting us know just how deficient they were last season and just how deficient they will resume being as soon as sanctioned baseball resumes play at its highest level. Jerry Crasnick was the latest national penman to put his fingers on our rapidly fading pulse as he searched around in the dark closet of his mind for appropriate turns of phrase:
No location plays the role of beleaguered doormat with the reliability of Cleveland
Over the past two years, the Indians have also done their share to stoke the city's reputation as Depression Central.
Heaven knows, the Indians could use some improvement across the board.
So what is a beleaguered, financially hamstrung franchise to do as it waits for the future to unfold during a frigid winter in Ohio?
Incredibly, Cleveland is both a beleaguered doormat and a beleaguered franchise. It's a place that needs the help of heaven while simultaneously it stokes the fiery hell of its own reputation. To be fair to the offseason, it's not like Cleveland only transforms into such a sad state when the Indians hibernate. These types of pieces crop up all the time. In fact, the first piece that Google returns for "Jerry Crasnick Indians" is an autopsy from two seasons ago. I understand the utility of these pieces: national outlets need to maintain at least the appearance of coast to coast coverage and, when the big wheel lands on "Cleveland", the narrative's not likely to vary from the recipe: mix equal parts sadness and incompetence in a souffle dish, add a dash of hubris, finish with gallows humor flourish and garnish with one or two Major League references (chef's preference).
But, as a fan, an obsessive, off the rails fan, the kind who knows the difference between Clayton Cook and Austin Adams, I sometimes have to squash an impulse to write Crasnick and his cronies a strongly worded electronic mail, one that essentially asks: "You came here to tell us the team was bad? As if we didn't know that? As if we didn't know our own lives?"
There's another line in Graceland, "She said losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you're blown apart; everybody sees the wind blow." That's both the best and worst part of cheering for a team this bad, a team where it's obvious that the marital bed is empty. The worst part is that your heart, or some part of it, is constantly somewhere on the spectrum from exploding to exploded. The best part is that every other Indians fan you meet, you can see right into who they are. No one's here to keep up appearances.