The sports fans’ eternal debate — unless you’re a fan of the New England Patriots, the New York Yankees, or some other team that seems to be good every year and win championships with machine-like regularity — goes something like this: would you rather your team be really good, come close to winning it all, and fail by inches, or would you rather your team stinks up the joint, is totally uncompetitive, and never even comes within sniffing distance of a title? Which kind of failure is more painful for the fan?
Cleveland sports fans are getting a real-life test of this eternal debate. The Indians are the team that falls into the first category. For two years now, they’ve been very good. Last year, they came within inches of winning it all; this year, a few breaks one way or the other and they would still be in the playoffs and gunning for a possible World Series ring. Kish can tell you, from watching my tantrum when the Tribe lost game 5 of the ALDS, that it was a very difficult loss to accept.
The Cleveland Browns, on the other hand, fall into the second category. They’re 0-6, already out of the playoffs, and establishing historical records for abject football futility that may never be challenged. They are ludicrously bad, and seem to be discovering new, never before considered ways to lose games. You could call them the Cleveland Clowns, but that wouldn’t be accurate, because many people find clowns to be terrifying — and there’s nothing at all that’s scary about this bunch of losers.
Having lived through this in real-life, I therefore think I know the answer to this eternal debate. Sure, being a fan of the Browns is painful, but it’s more of an embarrassing pain than anything else. Because they are so bad, you just don’t get emotionally invested in their ineptitude, and the losses don’t really sting because they’re expected. You can even laugh at how bad they are. The Indians, on the other hand — well, those losses will continue to sting and nag for years to come.
Nice to know that Cleveland sports teams can conclusively settle long-standing points of controversy.