For the last 52 years the city of Cleveland has been viewed as a joke in the sports world. Fans hadn’t seen a bit of championship gold since 1964 when the Cleveland Browns won a title two seasons prior to the first ever Super Bowl. It was the face of the franchise Quarterback Bernie Kosar and the Browns that nearly brought the city another title in the 1987 AFC Championship versus John Elway and the Denver Broncos. Cleveland Running back Earnest Byner ripped the hearts out of Browns fans after his fumble on the 1 yard line led Hall of Fame Quarterback Elway to creating the famous “Drive” in which he marched the Broncos on a 98 yard touchdown drive forcing the game into overtime where Denver would win and advance to the Super Bowl.
Another championship opportunity came in 1997 when the Cleveland Indians advanced to the World Series versus the Florida Marlins. The Indians shocked Major League Baseball as they finished the regular season 86-75 after one of the slowest starts in franchise history. They clinched a playoff spot where they eliminated the defending World Series Champion New York Yankees in the ALDS and would knock out Cal Ripken Jr & the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS to advance to the fall classic. Both teams forced a Game 7 due to the series being tied 3-3. Entering the ninth inning the Indians led the Marlins 2-1 and found themselves just three outs away from being World Series Champions. However, closer Jose Mesa couldn’t shut the door on the Marlins as they went on to tie the game before a rising star named Edgar Renteria would knock in the game winning run in the 11th inning to give the Marlins the World Series title.
Cleveland’s NBA franchise the Cavaliers also found themselves struggling to get over the hump. In 1989 the Cavs drew a playoff matchup with Michael Jordan & the Chicago Bulls after finishing the regular season with a record of 57-25. In Game 5, the Cavs found themselves in a good position to win the series until the legendary Jordan hit his world-famous “Shot” at the buzzer to bounce the Cavs out of the playoffs and leave the city of Cleveland speechless and left out in the dark for another disappointing season.
Through all the heartbreak and frustration though the City of Cleveland has blossomed in 2016, giving fans long overdue hope for the future. The Cavs finished the regular season 57-25 and gained home-court advantage in the NBA Playoffs. After sweeping the Pistons & the Hawks in the first 2 rounds, the Cavs defeated the Raptors 4-2 to win their third consecutive Eastern Conference Championship and advance to the NBA Finals for a matchup with the heavily favored Golden State Warriors. Despite trailing the series 3-1, the Cavaliers remained focused and poised for a dramatic comeback. They would capture Game 5 in Golden State with a 112-97 victory, forcing a Game 6 back in Cleveland. The Cavs would win Game 6 at home by a score of 115-101, forcing a crucial Game 7 at the Oracle in Golden State. With everything on the line and the constant pressure from the city to produce a championship, the Cavs did just that thanks to the play of unsung hero Kyrie Irving and another dominating performance from “The King” himself Lebron James. The Cavs won Game 7 93-89, giving the City of Cleveland its first championship since 1964. Lebron was named Finals MVP after posting 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists to finish with a triple-double.
The championship parade throughout the city was remarkable. Fans had every reason to celebrate as did a shirtless J.R.Smith, who could be seen walking the streets and greeting fans still in his Game 7 shorts. ESPN had recently produced a 30 for 30 titled “Believeland” highlighting the collapse of Cleveland franchises. After experiencing plays like “The Fumble”,”The Drive”, “The Shot” and Renteria’s game winner, Lebron James has given Cleveland fans a happy ending by creating “The Block” in the final moments of Game 7 that the city will remember forever as the 30 for 30 features a new ending with the Cavs victory parade.
The Cavs aren’t the only franchise though making noise in Cleveland. The Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL captured the Calder Cup after scoring a remarkable goal with 1.9 seconds left in Overtime to complete the sweep of the Hershey Bears and give the franchise their 1st Championship. UFC Fighter Stipe Miocic brought the Heavyweight Championship home to Cleveland. Currently the Cleveland Indians are riding a 13 game winning streak in which they could finish .500 the rest of the regular season and still finish with a record of 90-72. Currently the Indians find themselves at the top of the AL Central with a record of 48-30 and hold a 6 game lead over the defending World Series Champion Kansas City Royals. One of the most unique features of this Indians team is their talented pitching staff led by former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Cleveland has also gave veteran players like Mike Napoli and Juan Uribe a second chance to rejuvenate their playing careers and it’s clearly working. Let’s not forget about rising star Francisco Lindor who could capture the AL MVP. If manager Terry Francona can keep these Indians red-hot, don’t be surprised when the franchise brings another title home to Cleveland.
Lastly, the Cleveland Browns. The Browns finally look to be heading in the right direction after eliminating problems like Johnny Manziel and Mike Pettine. New head coach Hue Jackson brings hope to Cleveland after the franchise had a successful NFL Draft in April. They selected star wide receiver Corey Coleman from Baylor as well as quarterback Cody Kessler from USC as well as other upgrades defensively. They elected to sign Robert Griffin III despite his injury plagued career thus far. However, Hue Jackson’s offense and a change of environment for RG3 could be exactly what the quarterback needs to continue his once promising career. The status of Josh Gordon remains unclear but should he play he gives the Browns a much needed offensive weapon.There’s nowhere to go but up for the Browns, who have had 24 different starting quarterbacks in the last 10 seasons.The franchise also hired Paul Depodesta in hopes of bringing the analytic skills he possessed working with the Oakland Athletics during their famous Moneyball era.
The winning ways that are finally occurring in the City of Cleveland should give fans hope that FirstEnergy Stadium’s nickname “The Factory of Sadness” will soon be coming to an end as owner Jimmy Haslam and staff are determined to win entering the upcoming season. However, Browns fans know that there’s always next year……..