The Drive, The Move, The Decision.
Do I need to continue?
These moments are painfully seared into the memories of Cleveland fans everywhere and the pain still lingers long after they were made.
While I myself have only experienced a few of these heartbreaks as a native Clevelander, the sting of past failures is still felt by people like my father, who experienced The Drive, John Elway and the Denver Bronco’s 98-yard touchdown drive to tie the game in the AFC Championship game in 1987, firsthand.
Let’s start with the Cleveland Browns, shall we? A franchise that has never once been to the Super Bowl and has made just one appearance in the playoffs since returning to the shores of Lake Erie in 1999.
Being a Browns fan is a lot like believing in Santa Claus as a child. You hope and pray he is real, but deep down you know you will be disappointed when you see a family relative dressed up as Santa giving you a 4-12 record instead of the 11-5 record you asked for multiple times.
Disappointment comes with the job description when cheering for the brown and orange. And yes, it is a job trying to cheer for a team that has started 20 different quarterbacks since the 1999 season. Imagine going to a job where your boss is fired every few weeks and a new one is brought in. Imagine this continuing for 15 years, and each year, your product becomes worse to the point where you quit.
That is exactly what my father did when the Browns left Cleveland in 1995. He had been a season ticket holder for the Browns for years and when they left, he had just about given up hope. But being the proud Clevelander that he was, he returned for the opening game of the 1999 season when the new Browns made their return to city of rock ‘n’ roll. The brown and orange fell to the hated Steelers that day 43-0 and my dad has not attended a Browns game since. Can you blame him?
But while the Browns have struggled for years, it wasn’t until The Decision, LeBron James “taking his talents” to Miami, that the Cleveland Cavaliers fell from the ranks of the NBA playoff regulars.
The Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick in 2013, a player who averages only 4.1 points per game in 12.7 minutes played. In the words of Forrest Gump, “And that’s all I have to say about that.”
The one team that seems to be Cleveland’s only hope of being a successful sports town anytime soon is the beloved Cleveland Indians. The franchise that has not won a World Series since 1948 came within three outs of bringing the trophy back to Cleveland in the 1997 World Series before Jose Mesa and Charles Nagy quite literally threw the game away, allowing the Florida Marlins to celebrate a championship in just their fifth year of existence.
But there is room for optimism at Jacobs Field in 2014 (I know, I know its “Progressive Field” now, but if you are any kind of Tribe fan it is still “The Jake” to you) coming off of an appearance in the playoffs in 2013. Although their berth in the American League Wild Card Game ended in defeat as the Tribe fell to the Tampa Bay Rays last season, the likes of former Buckeye Nick Swisher and 2013 All-Star Jason Kipnis have given Tribe fans a reason to cheer again and get excited about a team that has been so close to a title for so long.
So to all you non-Cleveland fans out there who are disappointed when your team loses in the postseason or doesn’t bring home a title, don’t despair. Be happy you don’t cheer in a city that hasn’t won a major championship since 1964 — when the Browns won an NFL championship in the pre-Super Bowl era. And to all of my fellow Clevelanders out there who are desperate for a winner, remember our mantra as the Indians take the field this week:
“There’s always next year.”