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'We Don't Even Expect You To Be Good': The Long-Suffering Cleveland Sports Fan


Staying in Cleveland for a few more minutes, but switching to sports. If you're a baseball fan, you've probably heard of the Curse of the Billy Goat. That's supposedly the jinx that's kept the Chicago Cubs out of the World Series since 1945. That could all change tonight if the Cubs beat the Dodgers and win the National League pennant. And who is waiting to play the winner of that matchup? Yes, none other than the Cleveland Indians. They're fighting a curse of their own. The American League champs haven't won a world title in 67 seasons. And coming into this year, expectations were not that great.


MIKE POLK JR.: That's why this season we're introducing even more great features that will help you ignore the fact that you're actually at a baseball game. We've added 20 dart boards to the corner and two mechanical bulls. How long can you stay on? And remember, just because you're at a baseball game, that doesn't mean you can't have fun. Go tribe.

MARTIN: That's comedian Mike Polk Jr., long-suffering Cleveland sports fan. You might have seen some of his YouTube videos lamenting his fate. They've had millions of hits. And he is with us now. Mike Polk Jr., thank you so much for joining us.

POLK JR: Thanks so much for having me. It's a beautiful time to be a Clevelander.

MARTIN: The Indians are in the World Series.

POLK JR: It's fantastic, obviously. The city is - I mean, we're spoiled because you get - we had quite a bit of a drought there in between championships. Now it's been almost four months since our last one, and we're getting a little greedy. And we're like, when's our next one?

MARTIN: Well, for the three people who don't know what you're talking about, the city had not won a major title since 1964, until LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship last summer. So take me back to June, if you will. You know, what was it like when it was finally over?

POLK JR: It was, more than anything, surreal. And I just remember going out into the street and just hugging a random collection of strangers from every age bracket, demographic and walk of life. And everybody...

MARTIN: ...I thought you did that every weekend - just kidding. Sorry. So you were saying earlier that having won the NBA championship, that fans are kind of getting greedy now. They're feeling - what? - a little entitlement?

POLK JR: That was - I was being flippant. They are not being greedy. They are appreciating every single moment of this. Nobody was expecting this. Everybody was in complete shock when the Indians went this far, especially considering - I know a lot of people don't know this because NPR listeners are a - they probably do a bit more reading than your average sports fan and maybe can't devote 75 percent of their lives to sports like a lot of us do. But they have gone through some...

MARTIN: ...I kind of think you're stereotyping a little here, but I'll let you go on.

POLK JR: But it's a good...


POLK JR: ...Stereotype...


POLK JR: ...So I think it's OK. I've just heard NPR sports updates before where they're like the SuperBowl is going on this weekend and where two juggernauts will take to the gridiron. It's like that kind of sports reporting. But no, they have overcome quite a bit of adversity to get here. And people kept counting them out because they had this pitcher go down and then this pitcher go down. And somehow they pulled it off. But Clevelanders, in general, we are - believe me, we are not in any position to feel entitled. And we are - everybody's just appreciating the hell out of this.

MARTIN: That's comedian and lifelong Cleveland sports fan Mike Polk Jr. He was kind enough to join us from the studios of WCPN ideastream in Cleveland. Mike, thanks so much for joining us.

POLK JR: Thank you guys. Go Tribe. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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