"Curse" Words

Could we, should we, embrace a book that chronicles the tragic Cleveland sports moments that already replay in our heads like a nightmare version of ESPN’s “SportsCenter”? Maybe, just maybe, Tim Long’s “Curses! Why Cleveland Sports Fans Deserve to Be Miserable” (Gray and Co., $9.95) can serve as an athletic exorcism for a city in dire need of banishing sports demons. And though the book’s title seems to insinuate the city’s with-you-till-we’re-dead sports fans (and their the-season-is-half-over brand of perennial pessimism) are somehow to blame for all the bad karma, the book is really about bonehead front office moves, strokes of tragedy and just sheer bad luck. Reading about all of it at once, it does seem as if there’s a sinister force working against our pursuit of a pro sports championship. All the usual suspects are here: “The Drive,” “The Shot,” “Game 7” and Art Modell. You know these stories. You’ve been trying to forget them for years. Still, Long presents the subject matter in a breezy, fun way (well, as fun as this subject matter gets), mentioning in his introduction that the book is meant to serve as a 176-page stint on the psychiatrist’s couch for the scarred sports nut. The question is whether our superstitious fans will be brave enough to pick it up in the first place.             

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