Bob Wickman IS Cleveland

Save #41 last night. The guy is approaching Mesa’s 1995 record of 46. Cleveland should start embracing this guy, if only for one reason. He IS Cleveland.

Like Bernie Kosar, who succeeded spectacularly depite being so obviously NOT an athlete, Wickman embodies everything that is Cleveland. He’s been down on his luck. A lot. His career was written off when he needed Tommy John surgery. He spent a year struggling to return to form. He came back, a bit chubbier, no less awkward. He looks like a guy you’d run into standing in line at Slyman’s waiting for a corned beef sandwich. He waddles to the mound with a layer of stubble, a mouth full of chaw, and the look of a guy who just woke up after a night of shots and beers with the fellas. Even looks like he’s got a hangover, that grimace, that “oh, man, my head hurts” visage.

And then he gets it done. Like Bernie, it ain’t pretty. He makes you sit on the edge of your seat, knowing he’s gonna stumble here and there, put a guy on base, or like last night, give up a home run. But he gets the save, overcoming every obstacle, including the cancerous oppression of low expectations and strangely silly criticisms that talk him down in the face of his almost flawless bottom line record this year. He may win ugly, but damnit, he wins, all the while surrounded by naysayers who seem to get a bizarre joy out of the rare occasions that he doesn’t.

Sometimes I think Cleveland’s low self-esteem pathology often treats people like Bob Wickman so poorly out of self-defense – we can’t win, we can’t succeed, so we might as well accept it. Well, that’s fine. But leave Bob Wickman out of it. His performance this year, in the face of the longest of odds, is nothing short of incredible, and a lesson for Cleveland itself.

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