How in the world could the most cursed state in the country be spoiled? Well, it hasn’t really been as bad as it seems… okay that’s a lie it’s been pretty bad. Although there has been tons of bad times, Ohio sports have had some pretty darn good teams. So this finals might have stung, but let’s look at all the great teams we’ve gotten to see in this century.
Pass (* Not Joe Thomas)
Growing up, I’ve always been an Indians guy, and I’ve always been let down; however, before they let me down, they often times give me a fun season. Starting in 2001, the Tribe had a 91 win season and an AL Central Crown, definitely a solid season. The Wahoo’s would then struggle for a little while before a crazy 2007 season. CC Sabathia would win a CY Young Award, and Eric Wedge would win a Manager of the Year before an intense playoff run would start. This run would start with the Bronx Bombers, and end with a blown 3-1 lead versus the Red Sox. (You’ll hear more about 3-1 leads in the Cavs section.) Before the Indians fell apart against the Boston empire, they had one of the strangest games ever against the Yankees. With the Tribe trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 8th, Joba Chamberlain came into seal the deal, but as Chamberlin took his place atop the mound, small insects called midges swarmed into Jacobs Field. Yankees coach Laz Diaz would go out to spray Joba Chamberlain with insect repellent, seeming to worsen his grip on the baseball. With Grady Sizemore sitting on third base, a wild pitch would get away from Yankees catcher, Jorge Posada, allowing Sizemore to slide in just under the glove of Chamberlain, helping the Tribe take it to extras and pull out the victory.
Image: (New York Times)
After the ALCS run, only a Cliff Lee CY Young would ease the pain of five straight losing seasons. Then, Cleveland was graced with their savior, Tito Francona. Francona had managed championship winning Boston teams and helped them end their 100 year curse. At this point, the Tribe hadn’t won a pennant in over 60 years despite coming ever so close in the 90’s, but now they had their manager. The Indians would lose 4-0 in their first Wild Card game against the Tampa Bay Rays, but now they had the taste of a Playoff atmosphere. This would be the first ever professional playoff game I’d attended and despite the loss, it was an environment I could never forget. After that came two winning seasons and no playoffs, but in 2016, the Indians had finally built a contender. Over the next two years, backed by the best bullpen in the majors, Cleveland had created some of the strongest teams their organization had ever seen. Tito had led two straight winning streaks of 15 plus games, (both franchise records at the time) two AL Central crowns, and an American League Championship pennant. The Tribe would not win a World Series, but they now have a team that can beat anyone in the majors. We the fans are stuck in a purgatorial state of waiting for Francona to break our 69 year curse.
Most Cleveland fans tend to be Buckeye fans too, and unlike the Browns, this football team doesn’t let us down all that much. Starting back in 2002, led by a young head coach named Jim Tressel, Ohio State marched through their regular season to a 13-0 record, and were matched up against Miami FL in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Miami was a big favorite to win back-to-back National Championships after destroying Nebraska the prior year. However, led by Freshmen phenom Maurice Clarett, Ohio State would win the National Championship in Overtime, 31-24. The Buckeyes haven’t slowed down much since then, winning 7 major bowl games, losing in two BCS Championships, winning 8 Big Ten Championships, and their most important wins coming in 2014. After an 11-1 regular season, Ohio State was pitted against Wisconsin in the B10 Championship, with Wisconsin being the favorite to win. Led by 3rd string Quarterback, Cardale Jones, Ohio State would obliterate the Badgers, 59-0. This blowout would secure the Buckeyes the number 4 seed in the playoffs, where they’d meet number 1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. After falling behind 21-3, a mix of hail mary’s, trick plays, interceptions, and an “85 yard run down the heart of the south”, Ohio State would make the comeback of the century winning 42-35. Next up was Oregon, and Ezekiel Elliott would destroy the Ducks with 200 plus yards on the ground in line to a 42-20 National Championship Victory for Ohio State.
I’m going to sum up the Cavs in two words. LeBron James. In recent years, everything that has been good and bad about the Cavaliers has revolved around LeBron James. He has been the heart and soul of this Cavs team since he was drafted in 2003, and ever since his return in 2014. I also want to avoid pre 2014 Cavs because that’s a pretty dark time in our history. (Made the playoffs a bunch but couldn’t pull through because the entire team, minus LeBron, stunk.) So I’ll start their story on June 19th, 2016. Every person slightly aligned with the city of Cleveland knows about the Cavs coming back from 3-1, but I’ll give you my perspective of the game.
My day started off in Progressive Field. The Tribe was playing the Chicago White Sox in a 1:10 game. My family and I only went to the game because we wanted to watch the Cavs at one of the hundreds of watch parties afterwards. The Indians would go on to win on a Jose Ramirez walk-off single, but I drank a warm milkshake during the 4th Inning, which would go on to be a night altering mistake. After the Tribe game, we went in between The Q and Progressive Field to watch Game 7 of the Cavs. As the game tipped off, my stomach began to utterly kill me. My family told me I was on my own to find a bathroom because they weren’t missing a minute of this historic game. I slowly trotted down the road searching any place for a bathroom to relieve my immense amount of pain, but no place would let me use their facilities. I finally made it to Jack’s Casino, and they say that I can use their bathroom, but first I had to give them my ID. At the time I was 15, but hardly passed for 12, and I had left my ID in my Uncle’s car. THESE JERKS WOULDN’T LET ME USE THEIR BATHROOM. Oh man, I almost dropped my drawers right then and there, but like the Cavs, I kept my composure. Another ½ mile down the road, I managed to finally find a bathroom, and I’ll spare you the details. I made it back to the mosh pits outside of the Q, just in time to watch Kyrie take over during the 3rd quarter. I’ll never forget LeBron’s block, or Kyrie’s dagger, and the rest of my day made it quite unforgettable.
Yeah, it’s rough to be a Cleveland fan, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way.
GO, BROWNS, TRIBE, BUCKS, and CAVS
Follow the Author: @drew_thirion
Featured Image: (90.5 WESA)