Friday, November 14

Contingency plans

The Cleveland sports teams that we support here on FCF are all on pretty solid ground financially and appear to be rooted in C-town for the foreseeable future. This is very good news for the FCF staff and for you, the reader. The Buckeyes, obviously, aren't going anywhere either. There was a time when this wasn't true; the Indians were certainly a candidate for contraction or relocation prior to the Jacobs Field era, and we all know what happened to the Browns some 12 years ago. I'm also a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, and just a couple of years ago there was serious concern that they might become the Portland Penguins or Kansas City Penguins. It's nice that things are stable for my clubs at the moment, but what if one of them was either discontinued or relocated? That's the question I'd like to discuss today.

My first rule is, in case of a relocation: do not root for the team in its new location. Case in point: the Baltimore Ravens. Fuck the Baltimore Ravens. Whatever city got your team stole it from you and doesn't deserve your support. You won't see a lot of SuperSonic fans pulling for the Thunder this season, nor should you. In all these cases, if we're talking about a team moving to a different city, we shall assume that I hate the new team passionately.

We also have a bit of actual historical data here, so this isn't a purely speculative exercise. When the Browns were taken away from 1996-1998, I responded by basically getting out of the sporting world for a while. I kept tabs on the Cavs very loosely, and the Tribe was still making playoff runs, but the loss of the Browns sent shockwaves through my whole sports scheme. A number of other factors contributed here:
1) I moved to Pittsburgh, which distanced me physically from Ohio. Remember, this was before the Internet as we've come to know it.
2) At CMU, I got into more college-y pursuits, and pro sports took a back seat.
3) The Tribe's devastating '97 World Series loss was hard to come back from.
4) I started watching pro wrestling.

Nowadays, I'm more vested in pro sports, and would keep active even if one of my clubs skipped town or was disbanded. Naturally, my interest in that particular league would wane considerably; without a stake in the game, it's not the same. But I've put together some contingency plans. What would I do?

Not having baseball in Cleveland would be a dreadful thing, but if it happened, I'd shift my support to the Pittsburgh Pirates, though far less enthusiastically. I'm already a casual Pirate fan from my years in Pittsburgh (they're a distant #2 to the Tribe), and they're such a moribund franchise that it's easy to get behind them without making a significant emotional investment. I would be bitterly angry at MLB for stealing my Indians, but at the same time, I love the game, and I could still keep tabs on a team at a low-maintenance level. I'd also look into minor league games in Columbus, Lake County, and Akron, though if they remained affiliates of the relocated Indians that wouldn't be nearly as cool.

Seriously, fuck the Baltimore Ravens. What was the question here? Right, losing the Browns (again). I suppose I'd do the same thing as in the previous question, except with the Cincinnati Bengals. Yeah, I know they're a division rival, but they're a fairly benign one, and there's some Ohio solidarity there. Plus, and this is a major point, I could still root against the Steelers and Ravens four times a year. This holds great appeal to me. I wouldn't be a huge Bengal fan like I am with the Browns, but I'd probably watch most of their games. I'd also keep my loose tie to the Philadelphia Eagles from way back when, as I was once a New Philadelphia Eagle and Randall Cunningham is my all-time favorite player.

This is the one where I'd probably just give up. I think the NBA is a good league with a solid product, especially in the postseason. Still, my interest here is more strongly dependent on my favorite team than it is for the NFL or MLB. I might take a passing interest in a nearby team, like the Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, or Milwaukee Bucks, but more than likely I'd stop watching pro ball except for the playoffs. Sorry, David Stern.

Ohio State Buckeyes
I'd go for Michigan, all the way. Just kidding. This question is ridiculous, as you can't very well relocate a university sports team. Not even going to answer it.

Hello, Columbus Blue Jackets! This would be the smoothest transition of them all; if the Pens jetted out of the 'Burgh, I've got an Ohio team with almost no prior history ready and waiting to take their place. No, it wouldn't quite be the same, but I could consolidate to an all-Ohio roster and catch more games on TV. As someone who used to have half-season tickets to the Penguins, I'd be sad to see Pittsburgh lose their local hockey club, but I'd be able to bounce back pretty well.

1 comment:

Douglas Wright said...

The worst of all insults is if one of those teams left and went to a city that already has a team. For instance, if MLB decides that New York deserves a third team and moves the Tribe.

If the Cavs went to Boston I would have no reason to go on.

And I agree, fuck the Baltimore Ravens.