Dear Future Matt,
First off, I want to make sure this letter gets to the right person. When I say future Matt, I don’t mean fifty-five-year-old Matt, getting prostate exams and trying to lower my cholesterol Matt. I mean near future Matt. I mean the Matt that will start tonight, and exist forever Matt. Now that that’s out of the way, one more disclaimer: I’m not OK right now. I’m not drunk, I’m not high, I’m slightly delusional, but I’m definitely not “right.” My heart rate is over 120, my mind is doing triple axels around itself as we speak. The last place I should be right now is at a keyboard typing my thoughts, but I’m doing it for posterity. If I don’t have a memoir of the innocence right now, I might forget it as quickly as it disappears tonight. So I might misspell some words, or say something that doesn’t make sense, but I want to have said some things. When I say innocence, what I mean is that a potentially life-changing moment will be occurring in 120 minutes, and yet I don’t know what it will be. In fact, I have no clue as to the degree that I will be affected by it. But as of right now, as far as the fate of my life as a sports fan is concerned, I am innocent.
Which brings me to my point: to anyone who thinks that the admiration of a sports figure to the extent I have engaged in over the past seven years is shallow, or trite, or even foolish, I need you to take a step back and understand some things. For one, about two years ago, I was published for the first time in my academic career. The paper was a thesis on Midwestern regionalism in which I hypothesized that the character of children of the rust belt, particularly those in my generation, have the curse of Cleveland area sports ingrained in them. The narrative of our story, the lifeblood of our character, the common bond in all of our consciousnesses is, unfortunately for all of us, intertwined with the fates of the Cleveland Indians, the Cleveland Browns, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s not something I woke up one day and chose to dedicate massive amounts of time to, it is in my fucking blood. Secondly, this athlete, is not one I merely chose to admire because he was good, or the way he wore his hat, or he batted like me or something. This athlete is someone I first watched playing against my brother when he was fifteen years old. I watched him fucking grow up. Unlike Kobe, or Favre, or Jordan, he was already one of us. We had the same friends, we went to the same mall, we braved the same fucking atrocious winters, and the same disgusting summers. We rode the same roller coasters at Cedar Point, at the same wings at the Winking Lizard, it was like watching a friend or family member “make it.” There is something intimately special about that relationship. He was fighting for us, because he was one of us. And finally, and perhaps most applicable, it should be mentioned that for nine months a year, the equivalence of a school year, I, my friends, and my family have spent our evenings with Lebron James. Not in an intimate setting, and no, he doesn’t know, and obviously doesn’t care for us. But anyone that doesn’t understand the emotions of participating in the roller coaster (first time I’ve ever used the words “roller coaster” in the same paragraph twice) of a professional sports season, can’t really get it. You care, you give, you rejoice, and you cry. And then when it all comes crashing down in the cruelest and most twisted of ways, you shrug your shoulders, say “We’ll get em next year,” and get ready to do it all over again.
This time is different because this time there may not be a next year. This time there may not be a relationship. And that’s why this is so important. There is a decent chance that tonight, he comes on TV with Jim fucking gray, and says “I’m coming home.” If that is the case, then the last two months will merely be another memory to add to the growing banks. Seriously, this “decision” will merely be a slide in the powerpoint presentation. But if he chooses to end the relationship, to go off to some bigger city, then this is the only thing we’ll have. The bitterness of tonight will envelope the shot over Turk, it will eat the 25 in a row, it will destroy the first Wizards series, the triple doubles, the SI covers, the draft, the lottery, the “You see, we’re gonna light up Cleveland like it’s Vegas” promise. It will all be for naught. And that’s really the magnitude here. The memories can live on, or they can explode in our minds on national television. And here we are, innocent as a child, and yet shaking and guessing and hoping and trying to reason with ourselves that tomorrow the sun will rise, and same goes for the day after that, and reminding ourselves that there’s oil in the sea, and there’s lunatics screaming for the president’s head, and this fucking guy isn’t one of us anymore. But in ninety minutes, we’ll know. We’ll no longer be innocent, no longer be left to wonder. It’s either wait til’ next year, or fuck him in the ass.
By the way future Matt, at 4:26 PDT on the day he makes his decision, my guess is “STAYS.”
Fucked up, crazy, wants this all to be over so I can laugh about it Matt.
P.S. WYLD STALLIONS RULE