SPORTS

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July 8, 2002

I hate Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro

Last week, my beloved Cleveland Indians, die Indianer von Cleveland, traded staff ace/goofy fat guy/waddling enigma Bartolo Colon to the Montreal Expos. A superficial consideration reveals the following: My favorite baseball team traded its best player for a bunch of prospects. To wit, my favorite baseball team is less concerned with delivering a world series title to me than they are with trading our one really good pitcher to the Pittsburgh Pisces of baseball.

The sporting pages of this august publication have seen their share, perhaps more than their share, of my printed whingings about life as a Cleveland sports fan, and I'm sure everyone is sick and tired of hearing about it. But let me just say a few more things right now, and I promise that I won't write anything more about Cleveland sports until October. (I am lying to you again).

Why the hell did we trade Bartolo Colon? He is not yet 30, according to his "birth certificate," which means he is anywhere from14 to 75 years old. But he was getting better! He was finally settling down and looking like he might abandon his wildly inconsistent ways and be the #1 starter Cleveland hasn't had since the early 1970s. Moreover, why the hell did we trade Colon to the Expos? The Expos were abandoned by their owner in the offseason. Jeffrey Loria upgraded to owning the Marlins, and the Expos were remanded to the guardianship of Major League Baseball. There was a reasonably good chance the Expos would be contracted in the offseason. They average in the neighborhood of 30 fans per home game. No one cares about them. Yet they, the Expos, are more committed to winning than my Indians.

Granted, I should have seen the Colon trade coming. Rumors about Colon, Jim Thome, Chuck Finley, Matt Lawton and every one else on the Indians' big-league roster have been floating in the trade talk of the last few months. Slugging RF Juan Gonzalez was sent packing for money reasons after Jamie Moyer's 75-mph meatballs sent the Indians crashing out of the ALDS in October. Future Hall of Fame 2B Robbie Alomar was trundled off to the Mets for Lawton and a magic bean to be named later in December. The team is not very good. New Indians GM Mark Shapiro has taken every possible public opportunity to inform fans that the Indians will be rebuilding for the next few years.

Unfortunately, what the Princeton-educated Shapiro did and does not know is that the people of the greater Cleveland area, including my expatriate self, are very stupid, angry, and thick-skulled. We do not listen to reason. We throw beer bottles and handheld radios at referees when they defy our wishes. We throw D-cell batteries at John Elway. We taunt our star outfielders about their alcoholism. We make death threats to Art Modell even today, seven years after he moved the Browns to Baltimore. We rip entire rows of seats out of the stadium and light them on fire after the last home game. We rob our own pitchers at gunpoint in hotel elevators. We riot on nickel beer night and force the players on the field to take up bats in their own defense. We assume the Indians will contend for the playoffs every year, despite the fact that those same Indians only finished higher than fourth place once in the years 1960-1995. Long story short, we are all crazy jerks down Cleveland way.

Telling the population of Cleveland that the Indians are going into a rebuilding process whether they like it or not is like telling a whale not to eat you. It doesn't work. The whale probably doesn't speak English, and if he did, he would probably eat you anyway for being bossy. The people of Cleveland mostly communicate through grunts and stomping their feet on the ground rhythmically, and those who do understand English would become very angry and run you over in the Blazers that Jim "for Royal Chevrolet" Thome brainwashed them into buying. Then they would eat your heart for strength and bang pots together until the sun came back up. Cleveland is not in the Midwest. Cleveland is far too uncivilized to be the Midwest. Cleveland is the byproduct of drunken Revolutionary War vets and Eastern European immigrants crossbreeding with mutant perch from Lake Erie. We are still getting used to walking upright and having lungs instead of gills, and we are easily confused and angered. And we do not care about your rebuilding plan.

So the point, Mark Shapiro, is that your nancypants Princeton crap isn't going to fly in the 216/440. Not like it matters anyway. The people of Cleveland have the attention span of a ADD preschooler on acid at United Skates of America when the lights go out, the Skateasaurus skates in, and everybody flips out. At any rate, as soon as Browns training camp starts in Berea, no-one will care about you or anything you do. But until that time, we will be very angry and confused, and we may sacrifice you to the municipal boognish.