Browns Diary, Week 14: Reversal of Fortune
Cleveland 31, Jacksonville 27
Sports are funny. Back in the early 1990s, my least favorite player in baseball was probably Jack McDowell. I couldn’t fully explain why I had such an aversion to McDowell; it wasn’t anything personal. I just couldn’t stand watching him pitch, and I didn’t think he deserved that Cy Young he won*, and something about him just irked me.** One of the best parts of being a fan is that you don’t have to justify your feelings. I couldn’t stand Jack McDowell. End of story.
*He didn’t deserve that 1993 Cy Young Award. He won it because he was the only 20-game winner in the American League — 22 wins, actually — but the best pitcher in the league that year was surely Kansas City’s Kevin Appier, whose ERA was almost a full run better than McDowell’s (2.56 to 3.37) and whose bWAR was almost five wins higher.
**Funny, when I tell people that I loathed Jack McDowell, they immediately ask: “Is it because he flipped off Yankees fans who booed him off the field after he got totally rocked by the White Sox in 1995?” Heck no. That was the one thing he ever did that I liked.
Anyway, I couldn’t stand Jack McDowell. And then, suddenly, he signed with my hometown Cleveland team., this when the Tribe had just lost the World Series to Atlanta and desperately needed more pitching.
What’s a fan supposed to do?
OK, so obviously as a Browns fan — OBVIOUSLY — I despised Joe Flacco for many years. That big lug with his bazooka arm and refusal to go down was a nemesis, he was a pain, he was a plague. He started 21 games against the Browns, all of them while playing for the much-hated and much-feared Ravens, and he won 18 of them, including the first 11. True, most of the victories could be more properly attributed to the Ravens’ absurd defense, but Flacco did what he had to do, and I never thought he was that good, and I used to argue with a pal, Kevin, about whether or not Flacco was an elite quarterback.*
*Note to Kevin: Despite what I’m about to write, no, he was not.
Point is, I really disliked Joe Flacco. The level of dislike didn’t rise to the level of, say, John Elway or Terry Bradshaw or Jack Lambert or Ray Lewis, because Flacco wasn’t nearly as good as them. But he had his own place in my Clemenating* Heart.
*You will remember that I coined the word “Clemenate,” meaning, “To hate a sports figure in an entirely (or mostly) healthy, fun sports way.”
And so, how can I say this now? I love Joe Flacco. Love him so so so much.