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I keep seeing Cubs fans cry about the “Cubs Curse” and bemoan the long stretch since the Cubbies have won a World Series.
Sure, the Cubs haven’t won in a championship in a long time, but you have had your 6 Bulls championships in 8 years not long ago, and the Bears had their Superbowl. The Bears’ 36-point margin over the Patriots was a Super Bowl record until Super Bowl XXIV. They even got a hit record out of it!
The last major sport championship in Cleveland was a combined 115 seasons (baseball, football and basketball) ago, in 1964, before there were superbowls (Cleveland is one of the 3 active teams who has never appeared in, much less won, a Superbowl) when the Browns beat the heavily favored Colts. The closest cities in misery (San Diego and Philadelphia) are 30 seasons behind by that measure.
Also, its not like the Cubs have come close many times and choked or screwed up (the 2003 NLCS notwithstanding), like Cleveland teams have. We are still stinging from Jose Mesa, up 2 runs with one out in the 9th inning of the 7th game of the ‘97 World Series vs. the Marlins, giving up 2 runs and the Indians going on to lose in 11 innings.
Going back a few decades, Cleveland boasts being the goat for one of the most legendary plays in baseball with “The Catch”
Wertz worked the count to two balls and a strike, before crushing Liddle’s fourth pitch to deep center field. Some reports say the ball traveled 450 feet, which is an exaggeration, but in many stadiums the shot would have been a home run and given the Indians a 5-2 lead. However, this was the spacious Polo Grounds, and Giants center fielder Willie Mays, who was playing in shallow center field, made an on-the-run over-the-shoulder catch (looking like a wide receiver) to make the out. Having caught the ball, he immediately spun and threw the ball, losing his hat in characteristic style. Doby, the runner on second, might have been able to score the go-ahead run had he tagged at the moment the ball was caught; but as it was, he ran when the ball was hit, and then had to scramble back to retag and only got as far as third base
The play prevented the Indians from taking the lead and, in the bottom of the 10th, the Giants won the game on their way to sweeping the Series. The Catch is often considered to be one of the best and most memorable plays in the history of baseball because of the difficulty of the play and the importance of the game itself.
The Indians’ woes were at least a source of humor.
The Indians’ non-competitiveness during the 1960s through the 1980s became a subject for humor. A standard joke of the time had a judge asking a child in a parental custody battle with which parent he preferred to live. The child says neither one, they both beat me — the judge then asks with whom does he want to live and the answer is “the Cleveland Indians, they don’t beat anybody.”
A local amusement park named Cedar Point, located in Sandusky, Ohio, featured a paddlewheel boat that went around an 18th century setting that included robotic and apparently hostile Indians pointing rifles at the passengers. The narrator would frequently say, “Don’t be scared, folks. They’re Cleveland Indians; they can’t hit anything.”
The Brown fans have 3 losses in 4 years in the AFC title game to lament, all vs. Elway and the Broncos. Cleveland had heartbreak in ’87 with “The Drive”, where John Elway, in a span of 5 minutes and 2 seconds, led his team 98 yards to tie the game with 37 seconds left in regulation. Denver won the game in overtime with a field goal, 23-20.
In 1988 it was “The Fumble”, Cleveland down 7, on Denver’s 8-yard line with 1:12 left. Earnest Byner took the hand-off and fumbled on the 3. The Broncos took an intentional safety and went on to win, 38-33.
In 1989 admittedly it was not even close, the Broncos again beat Kosar (with his throwing hand pinky in a cast) and the Browns in what is known as “The Blowout”, the final chapter in that trilogy.
Not to mention “Red Right 88″
Trailing 14-12 with less than a minute remaining in the contest, the Browns had moved into position for a potential game-winning field goal. After Browns quarterback Brian Sipe called a time out, and conferred with head coach Sam Rutigliano, he chose to force a pass to tight end Ozzie Newsome. However, the pass was intercepted in the end zone by Raiders defensive back Mike Davis who had cut in front of Newsome’s square in pass route, putting an end to the Browns season, with Oakland advancing on to eventually win Super Bowl XV.
The enormity of 3 of these 4 defeats is such that they have their own Wikipedia entries!
Basketball we also have our near misses, with a young Michael Jordan’s “The Shot” (yes, its honored in Wikipedia as well) over Craig Ehlo’s head to beat the buzzer and beat the Cavs in 1989 – he did the same thing with “The Shot II” the next time the 2 teams met in the playoffs. The Bulls had been winless in six games against the Cavaliers in the regular season, including a 6-point loss in the final regular-season game in which the Cavs rested their four best players.
The Cavs made their first NBA finals appearance ever this year, but after a hard-fought play-offs, they folded faster than Superman on laundry day, outmatched and outplayed by the very strong San Antonio Spurs, who swept the Cavs 4-0.
So don’t give me that Cubs sobstory sister! You don’t know what its like to be born and raised in N.E. Ohio and doomed to a life of rooting for Cleveland teams. Heck, our Browns left town for Baltimore then won a Superbowl, for cripe’s sake! How bad is that?
We did get to keep the Brown’s colors, name and records, in an unprecedented deal no other city has ever received, just to make sure we hold onto our record for futility.
And that’s not even mentioning last week’s Indian’s 11-2 drubbing in the 7th game of the ALCS, after being up 3 games to 1, then losing 3 in a row!