Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A perfect Cleveland sports day

In front of every silver lining there's a dark cloud, which is why yesterday was a perfect sports day in Cleveland.

The Indians rebounded to wipe out the White Sox, 8-2, despite another Jim Thome home run. Jake Westbrook dominated into the seventh for the Indians, and Aaron Boone collected nearly half as many hits yesterday as he did all of last April. Then the Cavs, sparked by Larry Hughes' first game this calendar year, destroyed the Philadelphia 76ers, 124-91. Hughes scored 10 points, Lebron James 37 for his seventh straight game of 35 or more, and Anderson Varejao posted a double-double.

But the enduring image from yesterday is of Zydrunas Ilgauskas lying face-down on the court, sitting up, and limping to the sidelines. Z has been one of the NBA's most durable players the last five years, missing less than 30 games. In Cleveland, though, fans are like a beaten puppy, never trusting anything again because of memories of the early days. Z spent most of his first three years in the league walking around in a cast, and we're just waiting for those days to return.

Right now would be the perfect time. Z is doubtful for tonight's game against the Knicks, which makes Clevelanders doubtful that the current nine-game winning streak will result in anything more than a couple Player of the Week awards for Lebron. That the Cavs have the NBA's seventh-best record and play the NBA's worst team tonight means nothing. Cleveland fans are the people who actually believe that Jack Bauer *might* just be dead after the latest cliffhanger.

No, those dark clouds aren't just the typical Cleveland spring weather. They're the typical Cleveland sports weather, forecast perpetually gloomy, with a 35% chance of optimism. And a 100% chance of being hated by God.

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