Only dream of success in Cleveland
Words on Sport/
The Red Sox were unceremoniously dumped by the Oakland Athletics in the American League Championship Series for the second time in three years. In May, the Bruins lost to Edmonton in the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three years. In 1986, the Patriots made the Super Bowl, only to be edged by Chicago, 46-10. Such is the recent glory of the Boston-area professional teams.
As much as this may sound sarcastic (fueled by my hate for this uptight, dreary city), it is a back-handed compliment. To actually have all the area teams competing for championships (heck, even the Celtics used to be good) is amazing. But the focus of this column is not the Boston area, but my less fortunate hometown: Cleveland.
Don't get me wrong -- I love Cleveland. I would far rather live in Cleveland than around Boston. But our sports teams have been one set of pathetic miscues after another.
Take the Indians, for example. I can say, with pride, that they hold perhaps one of the most incredible streaks ever in baseball. This streak is of such a magnitude that it may never be broken, ever, at any level of baseball. It began in 1960, and will probably continue for years to come. You see, 1959 was the last year that the Tribe finished within 10 games of first place.
Ten games. That means that every year the Indians have at least lost 10 more games than the first place team. In 1987 Cleveland was picked to win it all, and lost 90 games. This year, the Indians were in first in May and were only six back at the All-Star break, with five games against the last-place Yankees ahead. Yankees win four of five, Cleveland finishes 111/2 back.
Hockey? Cleveland doesn't even have a hockey team, probably for the same reason that we won't have a baseball team much longer. The Barons, being anything but royal, consistently stunk and sulked out of town sometime in the 1970s after people stopped showing up for their games. Incidentally, they became the Minnesota North Stars, who still stink.
The Browns haven't exactly been a pathetic member of the National Football League, but they are still one of the few franchises yet to reach the Super Bowl; they join the likes of the Lions, Buccaneers, Falcons, Saints, and other expansion-type football teams in this regard. Yet they have made the playoffs for the past five years, and have played in the AFC Championship for three of them.
Each of these three was a loss to Denver, and every time the loss is more and more creative. A 98-yard drive by Denver sends the game into OT the first time around; a fumble on what could have been the winning score cost the Browns the second game; and the third was, well, a rout. I am almost happy to see that the Browns aren't very good this year so that they won't lose the AFC title game again.
Before 1988, the Cavaliers were perennially one of the worst teams in the NBA. After acquiring Ron Harper, Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, and John "Hot Rod" Williams (who in the off-season conducts the Boston Pops) that year, the Cavs became a credible team.
They were the second-best team in the NBA in 1988-89, losing to a miracle shot by Michael Jordan in the first round of the playoffs. The Cavs actually had a chance to win a championship that year, but once again, I was disappointed. Last year, the Cavs settled to a .500 record, destined for mediocrity evermore.
Oh, well, there were those of you who thought the Sox might beat the A's, the Bruins the Oilers, or the Patriots the Bears, and were disappointed. Someday, perhaps when I'm on my deathbed, the Indians will finish within 10 of first, the Browns will go to the Super Bowl, Michael Jordan will retire and the Cavs will go to the Finals, and hockey will return to Cleveland. Until then, I am faced with a life of frustration, high blood pressure, ulcers and dreams.