I love this part of Joe Posnanski's post about his childhood crush Super Joe Charboneau and what he meant to Cleveland in the summer of 1980:
See, we needed Super Joe, needed him more than he could ever know. The city was dying, even as a 13-year-old, I understood that. More than 175,000 people — almost one-quarter of the city's population — had fled Cleveland in the 1970s. In 1978, Cleveland became the first city since the Great Depression to default on its loans; in the mind of a kid this meant the whole city had gone bankgrupt. Smoke billowed into the Cleveland sky. Potholes shook us to the bone. The reason we even have an Earth Day is that the Cuyahoga River caught fire. And no team had won a title since the early 1960s, before I was born.
These were desperate times. Every other day, it seemed, Cleveland had some cringe-worthy new slogan designed to make the city seem better.
- New York's the Big Apple, but Cleveland's a plum.
- The best things in life are right here in Cleveland.
- We‘re a big-league city (with Little Leagues too!)
- Cleveland’s a great place to live
We so badly needed Super Joe.
For some reason, I thought Super Joe was given the nickname “Joltin' Joe” during that summer, but Joey Poz makes no reference to that, and even on a Google search you only come back with 200 examples. After his Rookie-of-the-Year season, Charboneau played in only 70 games, with 210 plate appearances and a .211/.258/.371 slash line. Did any other Rookie of the Year fall so fast?
Poz also comes up with a great term, “the counterfeit hope of lousy teams,” that the Seattle Mariners should really, really pay attention to.