The Indians won last night. I know because I got home in time to see the eighth and ninth innings. I had heard parts of the game on the radio. And at 5:20 this morning I went to my door to get the paper, eager to read the box score from the game. And as I reached the door knob I remembered that today is Thursday and that I live in Cleveland.
A sports page delivered to our door on Thursday? Where do I think I live, Akron?
The (formerly Cleveland) Plain Dealer wants to break up with us, but breaking up is hard to do. Monday and Tuesday it disappears. It is back on our doorstep Wednesday morning and tries to make amends. Thursday? Gone again. On Friday the P.D. is back, but it seems distant. The next thing you know it is Sunday, and like the girlfriend who is always available for the Hanukkah gift exchange party, the Plain Dealer is at your door hoping that all will be forgiven. The whole cycle starts again Monday morning.
Sting may have been right. If you love somebody you should set it free. If the Plain Dealer is too wishy-washy to terminate our relationship, we may have to, out of kindness, set them free.
I don’t pretend to understand what Advance Publications, the owners of what was once a good daily paper, are doing. I’m not alone. Crain’s and other publications have also wondered about this strange behavior. Massive lay-offs. The elimination of home delivery. A reliance on syndicated columnist who can be easily found elsewhere. It looks like they are attempting to commit suicide with a butter knife.
The 1996 season was our first without the Cleveland Browns. As a way to make professional football relevant, I joined a fantasy football league. I recruited my then stepson, a gifted mathematician who had a passing interest in football but a real love of pancakes, to be my partner. Every Monday morning we grabbed the Plain Dealer sports section and headed for Big Al’s Diner. While waiting for our food we would compile our points and map our strategy while I drank coffee and the ten year old downed large glasses of orange juice. I dropped him off at school after breakfast.
I can’t be the only Dad in Greater Cleveland who read the sports pages with his kid.
Does that work with the online Plain Dealer? Try it and get back to me. Newspapers are a shared experience. A computer screen in a restaurant is a party of one.
And if you are going online, why go to the Plain Dealer site? When I finally made time to read the box score of yesterday’s Indian’s game, I cut out the middle man. I just Googled Indians and the box score came up. Cleaner. Quicker. Easier to find. And if I want more details, I can always go to the team’s site.
My fellow bloggers laugh when they learn that I compose most of these posts, including this one, with a pen on a legal pad. I am committed to the written word. The Plain Dealer had some great writers. Most of them are now gone. Others, like Chuck Yarborough, are left to do the work of three. I still read all of his reviews, even the ones about Country acts, because I enjoy his perspective. But you have to wonder how long this sort-of paper will bother to pay for local, professional writers. We aren’t that far away from a paper comprised entirely of wire service reports.
So, you will be reading this on Friday, the paper will be on your coffee table, and you may even believe that everything is back to normal. OK. Check back on Tuesday. Let me know if you still feel like there’s nothing missing. Or better yet, let me know your thoughts on Monday, a few weeks from now, after the season opener.