2016: Cleveland Grows Up

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I haven’t posted on this site since early June of 2015, where my hopes for Cleveland sports were teetering on a fairy tale feeling that one on one of my teams, from my town, were on the verge of greatness.

We all know how that NBA finals series went. We remember their parade, the talk of “dynasty,” and the feeling of defeat.

And then they went 73-9. The best regular season ever.

Steph Curry repeated as MVP, and for the first time ever, in unanimous fashion.

And then the rematch.

Being down 3-1.

The “kick.”

“The block.”

“The dagger.”

Lebron and those now-legendary Cavs brought home something no professional sports team had in 52 years: A championship.

Being downtown that night was surreal. Hundreds of thousands of people in the streets, jumping on top of buses and street lights, hugging and high-fiving random strangers, and just thinking to myself, “this is what it feels like. This is what it feels like to be a winner.”

That parade…with 1.3 million of our closest friends. No doubt some of my fondest memories I’ll ever encounter in our great city.

And then the Tribe got hot.

14 straight.

You’ve gotta be kidding me.

Everything was happening. Cleveland was the center of the sports universe.

Sometimes in life, we get complacent. We lose sight of what’s important to us, because everything on the exterior seems so perfect. Your job, your love life, everything.

Earlier this year, I spent a few months in what I figured was illness. I initially went in thinking it was food poisoning, it then became gallbladder issues. The symptoms continued. Three hospital stints later, they found it to be herniated disks in my back, pinching a nerve that wrapped around to the front of my body, which simulated the abdominal pain. WTF, right?

I’m good now, but I spent so much time in the hospital on the pain drug Dilaudid, a synthetic morphine, that I had developed a chemical dependency to it. 90% of my issues? Withdrawal. They weaned me off the drug, and sent me home.

I spent the following months on a cocktail of antidepressants and anti anxiety drugs which made me lethargic. I would go to work, come home, eat, sleep, repeat. I had become a robot.It had gotten so bad that it eventually led to my girlfriend of two and a half years dumping me. Talk about darkness.

When nothing else is going for me, I still have my Tribe, Cavs, and Browns (ok, maybe not the Browns).

This 2016 Indians team, not to discount what the Cavs did, have been through every exhilarating high and crushing low imaginable. They not only were presented with an enormous amount of adversity, they looked it square in the eyes and said “F**k you. We got this.” Brantley, Carrasco, Salazar, Gomes, Bauer’s finger. You name it, they’ve been through it. Media bias, Vegas odds, anything and everything stacked against them.

It seemed that when the going got tough for this group, they only got stronger.

Who better than Jose Ramirez, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, Corey Kluber, Andrew Miller, and every single member of this team and organization, to bring Cleveland something that although we experienced only a few months ago, so much hope, brightness, and joy, to a city and people who have been so long considered written-off or never quite good enough.

You can’t write a better story. You can’t pick a better city and better people for this to happen to.

Last night proved that even thought we just ran out of gas at the end, this team never ever quit. Never even thought about it.

A very wise friend shared this Vivian Greene quote with me, which has resonated with me now for a few weeks. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

I’m sitting here in my apartment, not downtown, stunned as to what this year has been for me, for everyone.

When everything could have gone right for this team in this series, it went wrong. Jokes of “3-1 Lead,” the karma, the curse. It didn’t matter. It still doesn’t matter.

When it comes to “dancing in the rain,” this team hosted a rave in a hurricane.

Not to get preachy and break the spirit of this post because I want to keep things light:

No matter what happens in our lives, as dark and as lost as we may feel sometimes, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. You can’t be afraid of adversity and bad things happening.  Bad things are going to happen. That should never stop you from believing in yourself, your goals, and your future.

Here’s to a storybook 2016 in Cleveland.