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Take a walk down lowly street

12/27/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

On the Mark — By Craig Marks

To get a read on what it’s been like to be a Cleveland sports fan in 2012, I recommend “lowly” highly.

“Lowly” is a word that speaks volumes. It’s dismissive. It’s disrespectful. It’s used by conquering aliens (“Lowly humans, bow before me”) and snobby upperclassmen (“Date a lowly freshman? Are you serious?”). If they had the gift of speech, housecats would surely use it, too.

And, alas, “lowly” is a popular word for sportswriters and headline writers who need an adjective to describe the Browns, Cavaliers or Indians.

I searched Google News to see how often “lowly” was used to describe our 2012 professional sports teams. After extensive research — at least 25 minutes — I can report my findings. (Because of the quirkiness of Google, I may not have found them all, so I won’t be submitting my findings to any scientific journal just yet):

• In articles and sports blogs, there were 20 references to “the lowly Browns.”

• There were 40 mentions of “the lowly Cavaliers.”

• There were only eight mentions of “the lowly Indians.” (If you recall, the 2012 Tribe got a late start on its trip to lowly-ville.)

“Knicks struggle, but beat lowly Cavs” — New York Daily News, March 31.

“Red Sox take a beating from lowly Indians” — boston.com, Aug. 10.

“Stumbling Chargers visit lowly Browns” —wkyc.com, Oct. 26.

Interestingly, “lowly” never shares space with another adjective or adverb. It’s not “the sad and lowly Cavs,” “the desperate, lowly Browns” or “the frustratingly lowly Indians.” When you’ve said “lowly,” you’ve said enough.

In some cases, a surprising Cleveland victory triggered use of the “L word.” The Cavaliers’ Dec. 12 win over the Los Angeles Lakers unleashed a half-dozen references to “the lowly Cavs” (as well as a few to “the lowly Lakers”). After the Nov. 25 Browns game, the New Pittsburgh Courier responded with this:

“Just when you thought the Steelers offense couldn’t get any worse, they laid a rotten egg, 20-14, against the lowly Cleveland Browns …”

Sheesh. We folks in Northeast Ohio would never describe the Steelers in an unflattering way.

In November, “lowly” and “Browns” were almost inseparable, with 11 mentions. (Six of them courtesy of the sports blog bleacherreport.com.) That number dropped to four in December, likely the result of the team’s modest three-game winning streak.

My sports hope for 2013 is for less “lowly’s.” I’d like to see an “up-and-coming” here and there. Or a “feisty.” I’ll even take a “refreshingly competent.”

And while we’re at it, I would like to see a Browns victory that does not automatically put the opposing coach’s job in jeopardy. I would like the Cavaliers to wait at least until the winter solstice to begin playing for a high draft pick. And I would like the Indians not to give us false hopes, unless those are the only kind of hopes they can give us. In which case, yeah, give us false hopes.

Here’s wishing for a great 2013, one of joy and peace, blessed with the comfort of family and friends. And if it’s not too much to ask for, one or two half-decent sports teams. We lowly humans deserve it.

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