Sunday, June 24, 2018 Elyria 67°
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Jim Ingraham

Commentary: This week serves as a painful reminder of the hardships of being a Cleveland sports fan

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All of this happened already this week:

Kevin Love broke his hand.

The Browns whiffed on trading for Alex Smith.

Chief Wahoo was designated for assignment.

Just another couple of days in Unbelieveland.

In the grand scheme of things, none of those three water balloons dropped on Cleveland’s sporting heads is a deal-breaker. We’ve got plenty of towels and dry shirts.

But every thrice in awhile it’s good to be reminded that you reside within a fan base in which trouble tends to roll into town not by cab, but in a double-decker bus.

Makes you appreciate the good times all the more.

So if Monday and Tuesday were more roll-with-the-punches days, so be it. If that’s the trade-off for the electrifying moments we got to experience from the Indians reaching the World Series two years ago, the Cavs winning the world championship two years ago and the Browns, um, having won at least one game in 68 of their last 69 seasons, who among us would not say, “Small price to pay”?

Don’t answer that.

Instead, let’s go to the video tape:

The bad break

Fortunately for the Cavs, Love didn’t break his hand until the guy with the injured hip returned. Unfortunately for the Cavs, what once was considered a Big Three is now, and will be for the next two months, down to a Big One and a half. The indestructible LeBron James is the only member of the Big Three in the lineup and functioning — his bland January numbers to the contrary — at peak efficiency.

Isaiah Thomas is back, after missing seven months with a bad hip. The problem: He looks like what he is — a guy who hasn’t played in seven months. He looks less like a 5-foot-9 game-changing dynamo and more like just a guy who’s 5-9.

Assuming Love misses two months, the Cavs will have just six April games for LeBron, Thomas, and Love, all healthy together for the first time, to figure out their Big Three thing before the playoffs start. But none of it will matter if, as is the case now, the combustible Cavs’ effort and want-to tanks are both empty.

Wait, what?

The Browns had the need, the draft picks, the cap space and a personal connection that made them the favorites to trade for Alex Smith. Kansas City traded Smith on Tuesday — but not to Cleveland. To Washington. That’s right, it’s Jimmy Garoppolo, Part Deux.

When new Browns general manager John Dorsey was with the Chiefs, he traded for Smith. That was supposed to matter. A lot. When Dorsey was hired by the Browns, who, as you may have heard, are desperate for a quarterback who has actually won an NFL game, it was assumed that Smith would shortly be on his way to Cleveland.

But, come Tuesday, Smith was on his way to Washington. Was Dorsey asleep at the wheel? Awake at the wheel? Disinterested at the wheel? Does he even know where the wheel is?

A general manager only gets one chance to make a good first impression. Dorsey better have a whopper in mind for his second impression.

Hail to the Chief

Virtually all of us have grown up with Chief Wahoo. If you care about sports in Cleveland, the little fella has been part of your life forever. Decade after decade, through good baseball times and bad, the Chief kept smiling through it all. He was a feel-good summertime symbol of fun, and trips to the ballyard.

Unless he was not.

To some, he is not.

Some feel he is an insulting, racist caricature of Native Americans. I never interpreted or saw Chief Wahoo in that light. He was not created for that purpose. He was not created to be used as a symbol of hate, ridicule, or prejudice. He was created to be part of the logo of a baseball team. A baseball team that fans of all races, creeds and colors celebrated, rallied around, cheered for and cared about.

Nothing more.

That a baseball team named in honor of a Native American has been the target of several years of overheated debate, controversy and protests only adds to the irony.

My guess is that the battle lines break down this way: baseball fans vs. non-baseball fans and/or Cleveland Indians fans vs. non-Indians fans.

Those of us who have grown up with Chief Wahoo see the Chief one way. Those who have not see him another way.

It’s an interesting debate because it’s two groups arguing from the same side of the fence: both choosing to honor and celebrate Native Americans. It’s the method of doing so that’s the issue.

In the meantime, Major League Baseball has convinced the Indians to remove Chief Wahoo from team uniforms. However, he’ll still be available on merchandise in the team’s gift shop.

That’s one way to boost sales.

Contact Jim Ingraham at 329-7135 or jingraham4@gmail.com. Follow him @Jim_Ingraham on Twitter.



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