Woe is CLE
I understand why some people aren’t interested in sports. You already have to deal with the highs and lows that real life brings, why compound that with the trials and tribulations of a sports life as well? So many years of my life have been chipped away by the eternal hope and heart-crippling agony that following my teams has brought me. Who knows, maybe I could have been a doctor or something if I’d have used all my sports brain cells on something else. I’m not sure how knowing that Mo Vaughn was the 1995 AL MVP is ever going to help me out in life, but it’s up there anyway. (Albert Belle was flat-out robbed. Also, I was 7.)
Originally, this was going to be a happy post. My favorite team of all favorite teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers, held 4 of the first 34 picks in the NBA draft. With Rookie of the Year (and commercial funny man) Kyrie Irving already in place as the cornerstone of the franchise, this was our chance to set us up for a decade of winning and May basketball at the Gund. (As with Jacobs Field, it will always be Gund Arena to me.) Instead, Cleveland did what Cleveland teams do. First, they spent the #4 pick on a 6’4″ shooting guard who rode the pine for 40% of his team’s games in Dion Waiters. Then, to make matters worse, the Cavs traded all 3 of their other picks for the 17th pick to draft a player whom espn.com compared to Jamaal Magloire (!?!?!) in Tyler Zeller. I’m sure you can already tell I was less than pleased. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong. After all, there is a reason why I’m wrapping hot dogs and not running an NBA franchise right now. Maybe Waiters is the next Dwyane Wade or Russell Westbrook who becomes the ultimate second banana, a scoring machine who forms the best backcourt in the league. Maybe Zeller isn’t some backup center stiff and scores at will on the low block as he did at UNC. Maybe one day I will get to stand on E. 9th and cheer on my heroes who finally brought a championship to Cleveland. Maybe.
I am turning a quarter of a century old in December, and I have yet to see a winner in Cleveland. This story has been told many times by far better scribes than I, but I’ll try my best to educate you. The city of Cleveland has not been home to a champion since the Browns brought home the hardware in 1964. That’s a long time ago. As if that’s not cruel enough, every time we get close the sports gods find a creative new way to torture Cleveland fans. You already know these lowlights because ABC/ESPN always shows them whenever there is a nationally televised Cleveland game, but we’ll run through them anyway just for old times’ sake.
So depressing. The last two were the ones that hurt me most, if only because they were the two that I was old enough to care about. I don’t think Cleveland will ever see teams as good as those Indians teams of the mid to late 90’s. A classic “things were so much better back in my day” pronouncement, but those lineups were quite a sight to behold. There simply were no breathers for pitchers. Kenny Lofton. Albert Belle. Manny Ramirez. Jim Thome. Matt Williams. David Justice. Just masher after masher. The ’97 lineup was so loaded that All-Star game MVP Sandy Alomar Jr. hit 7th and should-be future hall of famer Omar Vizquel hit 9th! Unfortunately, the pitching could never quite measure up and so we were always left standing at the altar.
Then there is LeBron. Oh, LeBron. I could write a whole blog on LeBron. (Maybe I will). I will always remember watching the 2004 draft lottery, jumping and fist-pumping with my brother, knowing that we were getting the “Chosen One.” Watching one of the best basketball players of all-time on a nightly basis was a pure bliss. LeBron ripping apart Detroit in crunch time of game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals is the greatest moment I have had as a sports fan. His duel the next year with Paul Pierce in game 7 of the conference finals was just as legendary. I understand that sports is a business and they don’t care about teams the way we do, and that we would change our jobs too if we were presented a better opportunity for success. (Except for me. Yay Crawdads! Wooo!) But to go on TV and make an hour long spectacle and embarrass the city that adored him while leaving the team no time to sign any free agents is unforgivable. He was loved so much that we were ready to build statues and rename the city LeBronland if he came through. Some people seem to think LeBron will someday come back to the Cavs. I pray that never happens. I would rather hate him for eternity. (What if your significant other made an hour long announcement at the neighborhood cookout that they were leaving you for someone else? Would you want them back in a few years? I know I wouldn’t. I’d rather heckle them as they worked on their garden or something.)
Being a sports fan is tough. There is only one winner and 29 or so losers every year. Luckily, the years don’t stop coming. It only takes one where the big time player wants to spend his season on Lake Erie, where the breaks go our way, and the sports gods finally smile upon Cleveland, Ohio. As I write this, the Tribe sits 1 game out of a playoff spot. Who knows, maybe I’ll be dancing in confetti come November.
Luke is beginning his first year with the Hickory Crawdads as a concessions assistant. Previously, Luke has worked in baseball with the Akron Aeros, the Cleveland Indians Double A – Affiliate. He was born and raised in Uhrichsville, OH and attended Kent State University where he earned a degree in Sports Administration and a minor in Business. Luke has simple tastes, enjoying warm weather, funny jokes, and dancing