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Monday, December 15, 2008

God Hates Clevelanders (Somewhat)

The world is a cruel, cruel place. Especially if you're from Cleveland.
Some people think that God's cruelty is felt by the homeless; the poor; the horribly injured. This is certainly true, to an extent... but it seems that in a way, far worse cruelties are felt by those who, like Charlie Brown, constantly have that football whisked away right as they're about to kick it. "This time will be different!", they cry. But this time is no different... This time is just as bad as every other time until now has been.

And now on to the serious part of this post: Cleveland sports fans' luck (also known as nonexistent). Earlier in the year, in the NFL spread pool I've run for over a decade, a friend from Cleveland who is in the pool noted that he had placed within 3 points of the weekly leader five times. He had won a total of $5, tying for second place once. He is currently third overall in the pool... a spot that would win a total of $30, not the $300 or $100 that the first two spots win. Even there, he is barely clinging to the spot.

Meanwhile, I have won the pool twice this season. Of course, two deadbeats decided not to pay (yet continue to put picks in each week) - so as the manager, I'm only covering those losses. One of those wins of mine was last week - I went back to how I used to pick, going a bit higher on close-but-I-know-they'll-still-win games and lower on the others. I did the same this week, and early on, it looked like I had the week locked up and by a large margin, so long as some crazy things didn't happen.

But they did. St. Louis blew a huge lead and lost in OT to Seattle. Kansas City blew a 21-3 lead and went down 22-21, then still had a chance to pull it out, but missed a game-winning FG. The Bills had the lead and the ball, the Jets couldn't stop the run, so... the Bills tried to throw, fumbled, and it was run back for a TD. Then they threw an interception. Tennessee was down 1 with two minutes left, and rather than taking a field goal to take the lead, inexplicably went for it on fourth down and missed, never getting the ball back. Washington fumbled on the 2-inch line when they were down a TD against Cincinatti. And perhaps worst of all, as a Clevelander, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a call very questionably overturned, winning them not only the game but the division. Had almost any two of these games had different outcomes, I'd be in far better shape.

To top it off, I'm also in my old office's pool. The Ravens-Steelers overturned call not only hurt me in my own pool, it cost me a clear-cut win in the office pool. But wait! I could still win! All I needed was the Browns-Eagles game to be low-scoring, as the tiebreaker is total points on Monday Night Football. I had 27 (just to be on the low end), while the person who I was tied with had 44. With 10 minutes remaining, and the Eagles up 30-3, they stopped the Browns and put in backup quarterback Kevin Kolb to finish up the game. They weren't trying to score, just trying to run out the clock. They could hand it off every play.

But noooo... they passed... and it was intercepted.. and run back for a touchdown... to make it 30-10. Not only had I lost the tiebreaker, but I had lost it on a BROWNS' touchdown - a low probability, pointless, defensive touchdown by my own favorite team.

I still have saved on my phone a message, left for me on the day the Indians were eliminated from a shot at a division title thanks to a fly ball lost in the sun, by a good friend of mine (and G's). Howie, who is a complete pessimist about all Cleveland teams, said simply: "Hi - you don't need to call me back. I just called to say I told you so."

The world is a cruel, cruel place. Especially if you're from Cleveland.

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