If anyone objects to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace.
Yeah, I didn’t exactly give anyone the chance to do that. It was one of two requests I asked of the Justice of the Peace that officiated our nuptials. The other, I stole from Spaceballs. We required the short, short version for our outdoor mid-summer Phoenix wedding. While I’m on the subject, allow me to tip my proverbial cap to Jen, my bride of eight years. Without her blessing to do this, we wouldn’t be here right now. As an act of gratitude, I may even unload the dishwasher or take out the trash.
For some reason, I’ve been trusted with the master key to all of More Than A Fan, and I have to tell you, this is all so surreal. I keep expecting to wake up and I’m actually waiting for someone to yell at me, to tell me what I can’t do. Don’t get me wrong, the ‘ghost’ of Josh Flagner will linger in my head, and it will haunt me if get out of line, but that isn’t my intention. In fact, my intentions are not a priority these days; my obligations are. Let me break those down.
First, it is paramount that we keep the lights on. I laughed about it in BASEketball, when Squeak went to turn off Doug and Coop’s gas, but it wasn’t very funny when the natural gas ceased to flow in my own residence. You’d think you could live with it, especially on nice spring days, but a week of ice-cold showers and painful shaves had me changing my tune. It’s a good excuse to grow a beard, but my mind hadn’t gone there.
I learned from a friend, who had little money and no power, how to rough it with easily bought neighbors, an extension cord, and a power strip. Unplugging the TV, to open an outlet, to plug in the coffee maker, to heat up the water to shave, well, that’s no way to live. It’s obviously not how you run a website. Keeping the lights on, in this figurative sense, it requires money, so you’re going to see advertisements and we might even do some things we’re not proud to do (but, hopefully not).
Next, I have an obligation to these fantastic writers, as well as our loyal readers. A glance around More Than A Fan reveals that Matthew Kline always sees something that could use tweaking or fixing in sport, Jared Andrews knows the peaks (present-day Blackhawks) and valleys (historically, the Cubs) of being a Chicago sports fan, and what a time for Britt Zank to be waxing poetic about his beloved Kansas City Royals!
Our resident Canadian, John Poulter is writing about and talking about his hometown Toronto Blue Jays at the right time. Let’s see how all of that plays out. When we get to football season, Jared may be slightly less elated to speak on the tragedy that the Chicago Bears have become, compared to the suddenly-inspired, Joe Maddon-led Cubbies. Outside of Arizona, there can’t be too many folks longing for the cold days of winter, but maniacal hockey fans probably have their countdowns down to the hour by now. Though his Maple Leafs are so cursed, they might as well be Cleveland’s fourth team, John still makes his way to the Air Canada Centre more than a few times a year, come win, lose, or shootout.
They do play their fair share of hockey south of Ontario, and our hockey staff has you covered with opinions from Anaheim to Boston, and everywhere between. As for me, my biggest NHL interests reside in the desert, specifically in a small-time city that generally seems not to care about at least one of its major professional sports franchises. Never a dull moment with the drama surrounding the Coyotes, my favorite hometown team.
It’s weird to say it and a little awkward to see it typed out, but Phoenix absolutely is my hometown. I’ve been here 14 years, later this month. However, if you know me at all, you know my birthplace and long-time home is a seldom-respected city of yesteryear in Northeast Ohio, known as Cleveland. As More Than A Fan and I are brought together once again, I remember our common bond, we were both born in Cleveland, as was the site’s founder. Deny it, as anyone might, that’s our home base. It’s where our original readers come from, and in February 2013, Daniel Zaleski and the rest of management decided those readers had earned their own page.
The voices at MTAF: Cleveland are different from what they were in the beginning, but the tone is the same. We’d be speaking out of turn to evaluate fan bases, but I personally understand the dedication of those fans, near the shores of Lake Erie. In some cities, the night ends when the games end. The 2-1-6 is different; they’re talking Browns on the 4th of July and the discussion about a 7:05 Indians game could well into the AM hours of the next day, both online and on the airwaves. We cannot understate how the Cavaliers are overwhelmingly the best team in town at the moment, but they aren’t the only basketball team in downtown Cleveland.
A few blocks from the Quicken Loans Arena stands the once state-of-the-art Wolstein Center, and while crowds are a far cry from what they used to be for Vikings basketball, the entire Cleveland State Athletic Department remains near and dear to the heart of the many alumni that reside in and around the city. I cut my teeth on underdogs and upsets when the ’86 hoops team knocked off Bobby Knight’s 2-seeded Indiana as a 15, and rooted hard for this mid-major that’s never lost an Opening Round game in the NCAA tournament, as they went toe-to-toe with Butler in the Horizon League, before Butler bolted for greener pastures a few years back. For everything else on Cleveland’s only Division I athletic program, I defer to our own Bob McDonald. He is the decided authority for all-things-Cleveland-State.
I’m the one who decided that, so take that for what you will. The bottom line is, for our readers from Cleveland to parts unknown, we know you have options. We owe you good content for following our crazy views on the wide world of sports, and we need to deliver it on a consistent basis. If that does not happen, I have failed in my role.
On that note, my last obligation, or really, my moral imperative is to take care of (MTAF Founder) Josh Flagner’s baby the best way I know how, by treating it like my own. He has an actual baby to take care of now, so he should appreciate that. Josh, I promise not to drop this thing on its head, feed it paint chips, or let it be a Brian Hoyer fan. All kidding aside, if there’s a better way for “my” More Than A Fan to pay homage to Josh Flagner (and co-founder Lisa Pitz) than to recognize their charitable efforts, I don’t know what it is.
Off the webpage and in the community, philanthropy is a big part of our mission statement. I want More Than A Fan to be more than a place that simply houses brilliant, unfiltered sports opinion, but good-standing members of society. This team should demand that of me, as well as of themselves.
We aren’t just more than fans in these parts. We hope to be more than readers, writers, editors and publishers, but a community that takes care of one another and looks out for our own. Together, we make More Than a Fan a place that we can all be proud of, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, ’til link-rot do us part.