It only hurts when I inhale
A coworker and I were recently commiserating over the plight of the Browns (sure, a lousy topic, but it still beats actually working) and how they’ve basically defied the odds for the last decade and a half by being so consistently bad. Our little think tank – or more aptly named, in the Browns’ case, a "stink tank" – had us grasping for straws, much like the Browns on draft day.
Suddenly, the answer hit me square upside the head, like a tray of overpriced nachos hurled (I’ll let you interpret "hurled" any way you choose) by an irate season ticket holder a section above me at any Browns game. In fact, I’ll answer the question with a question:
How many NFL teams play their games atop a landfill?
Think about it. Everyone was convinced the reason the Indians stunk up the shores of Lake Erie from the late 1950s 'til the mid-'90s was because some crazy witch cast a spell on them in 1959 after Frank Lane traded Rocky Colavito. Having pondered this theory for millions of milliseconds over the years, I have come to a startling conclusion. Seriously, do the math: The Indians were baseball’s definition of putrid for decades after they last seriously contended in the mid-50s. I submit that it’s hard to concentrate on hitting a baseball when the ground you stand upon is emitting fumes with the toxic equivalency of air surrounding a typical Lady Gaga concert.
Does anyone really think it is merely a coincidence that when they moved to Jacobs Field after the 1993 season, the Indians actually became good? Check that; they became great.
I remember hearing that Municipal Stadium (the Browns’ first home) was constructed at the lake location because – stop me if you’ve heard this before – the land was "affordable" and they wanted to put all their financial resources into constructing a humongous structure in an attempt to bag the ’32 Olympics.
Well, it turns out all they bagged was trash – much of it containing "unique" smells – and much of it was buried beneath the playing field. I’m sure the city’s deep-thinkers figured at the time that with the wind always coming off the lake, the steady breeze would keep the air fresh and no one would be the wiser. My guess is that someone forgot to peek at the drawings and therefore didn’t realize that the stadium was completely surrounded with high walls which made little allowance for air movement on the playing field. I suspect that once a couple of the Olympic Committee selection staff got a good whiff of things down on the field, they politely declined Cleveland’s Olympic overtures.
And don’t think for a minute that it was only the players who were affected, either. I remember going to a twilight double-header against the Minnesota Twins in the late '60s and eating about a half-dozen hot dogs in the process. I always wondered how they got that unique taste into the mustard I’d used on the dogs – until that night. I remember the power going out during a thunderstorm, and noticing how my stadium dog suddenly lit up in the dark like a Star Wars light saber. (No, I shouldn’t have finished eating it, but I was on a pretty tight budget at the time).
And I probably should have realized something was up later that night when my mom knocked on my bedroom door and told me to turn off the fluorescent light, and I didn’t even own one.
So the Browns had their chance at "normalcy" in the late '90s when they were faced with selecting the location for the new football stadium, but they chose the location which no-doubt offered "‘the most value economically": the same place Municipal Stadium was located.
Maybe they saved a buck, but brother, we’re still paying for it.
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!