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Cleveland Sports “The Heartbreaking History”

My friend George, who is the biggest Browns fan I know came to me with an idea for an article.  The idea was to cover the negative history of sports teams in Cleveland.  I took that Idea and turned it into what you are about to read.  George, this is for you brother!

Cleveland has a history of bad luck and heartbreaking defeats when it comes to its sports franchises.  From the “Fumble” to Lebron’s “Decision”.  There have also been some incredible times for Cleveland’s sports franchises, however the bad far out way the good.  Cleveland is a city that loves it’s sports, unfortunately sports gods do not care for Cleveland very much.  I am going to take you on a trip through the history of Cleveland sports.  So sit back, relax and revel in Cleveland’s sorrows.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Michael Jordan celebrating the “Shot”
(Getty Images)

The Cleveland Cavs have had many Horrible season.  The team has held the franchise record for most loses in a season with 67, twice.  The first came in their inaugural season of 1970-71 and the second  during the 1981-82 season.   The team made a strong run in 1989 only to fall hard to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  The game became known for the “Shot”, it was the final game in round one of the Eastern Conference playoffs.  The moment was considered one of the greatest clutch moments in the history of Michael Jordan’s career.  It was one of the worst moments in history of the Cavileers.  The Cavs have never won an NBA Title, not even with the great Lebron James.  The team has only made one trip to the NBA Finals, in 2007 the Cavs were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in 4 games.  The City has Lebron James to blame for one of their many horrible moments.  In 2010 Lebron had an ESPN special live from a Boys and Girls Club in his home town of Akron, Oh.  Many thought because of the location he would be announcing that he would be staying in Cleveland.  He instead announced he would be taking his talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat.  That infamous broadcast is known as the “Decision” The City was in an uproar and Lebron jerseys were quickly being thrown away and even burned in the streets of the City who’s heart he broke.  The team followed up the “Decision” with one of the worst seasons in the history of the NBA.  The team lost a record tying 26 games in a row in the 2010-11 season.  The Cavs are 2 years removed from that fateful night and have never been able to get over it.  The team may be destined to dwell in the sadness that is Cleveland sports forever.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians lose to the Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series
(Getty Images)

The Indians are one of the teams that have been successful at times but have had more bad seasons than good ones.  The team has two World Series Championships.  The first came in 1920 and the most recent was back in 1948.  The Indians have added to the cities history of heartbreak over the years.   From 1960-1993 the team never made the playoffs and spent most of their seasons in last place.  In 1995 the Indians were one of the best teams in the MLB, until they made it to the World Series and lost to the Braves in 6 games.  The team made another trip to the World Series in 1997.  The tribe lost the series to the Florida Marlins in a devastating late inning Game 7 affair in Miami.  The team has been through countless rebuilding periods, all with no success.  The team was even featured as lovable losers and misfits in the major motion picture “Major League”.  The Indians are only second to one other team in the city of heart break, The Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns Earnest Byner seconds after the “Fumble”
(Getty Images)

The city’s most devastating stories and moments have come from their football team, the Browns.  The team had early success in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The Hall Of Fame Quarterback Otto Graham led the team to ten straight championship games with the Browns winning 7 of them.  The team found great success with Hall Of Fame running back Jim Brown.  Brown played with the team in the 60’s and 70’s and established himself as one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL.  The 1980’s brought the team some success. Led by their young quarterback Bernie Kosar, the team made it to the AFC Championship game twice.  Both meetings were against the rival Denver Broncos and their superstar QB John Elway.  The first of those championship meetings came in the 1986 AFC Championship game.  The Browns were leading the Broncos and had them pinned down on their own 2 yard line with 5 minutes and 11 seconds to play.  John Elway was about to show the world that he was one of the best of that era with the “Drive”.  Elway led his team all of the way down the field to score a touchdown and tie the game at 20-20.  The damage had been done and Cleveland lost the game 23-20 in overtime.  The “Drive” took place in Cleveland but that wasn’t the last quotable game to take place at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium.  In the 1987 AFC Championship Game the Broncos came into town again.  This time the Browns dominated the Broncos for most of the game and looked to be the AFC Champions.  Then the unthinkable happened again, this moment was to be known as the “Fumble”.   With the game tied 30-30 Kosar and the Browns were on the Broncos 8 yard line with 1 minute and 12 seconds left on the clock.  Kosar took the snap and handed the ball off to running back Earnest Byner for what looked like and open touchdown run.  Out of nowhere came the Broncos defensive back Jeremiah Castille who stripped Byner of the ball. The Broncos took the intentional safety and ended up scoring a touchdown with less than a minute to play in the game.  The Broncos defeated the Browns by a score of 38-33.  The city of Cleveland has never fully recovered from the “Drive” or the “Fumble”.  In 1995 The Browns played their final game in Cleveland before owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore to become the Ravens.  Modell claimed that he moved the team because he was losing money and could not keep the team the city without a new stadium.  He petitioned for a new stadium for years and saw a new ballpark go up and a new arena be constructed while he was left without tax payer support and a dilapidated stadium.  The Browns would return in 1999 as an expansion team but still had rights to the history of the team unlike other cities who lost their teams and history like Houston.  The “new” Browns have only made it to the playoffs once.  There was hope for the team with new ownership to turn things around in 2012.  The Browns were shut out of the playoffs for another season this year.

All of Cleveland’s major sports teams have gone through hardships. The Browns are by far Cleveland’s most heartbreaking team with a history that will not let the fans of Cleveland rest easy.  Any time something goes well for any of their teams disappointment is sure to follow.  Maybe one day the sports gods will treat the great fans of Cleveland to some success and happiness.

*UPDATE*

The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals to become NBA Champions for the first time in their history.  They also ended the decades long championship drought for the city of Cleveland.  This event was aided by LeBron James returning to Cleveland in 2014.

Lebron Is Not Free From Scrutiny Yet

Lebron James with the one prize that eluded him for over 9 years.
(Photo By: David Dow/Getty Images)

So the craziest thing happened on Thursday night, well maybe it was not so crazy after all.  Lebron James and the Miami Heat won the NBA Championship over the Thunder.  James who is one of the best players in basketball captured his first NBA Title.  It should be no surprise that he won a ring but for many it is.  James has had many ups and downs during his 9 year career and had 2  failed Finals opportunities.  It was what he had done in those 9 years that made a lot of fans skeptical.  He should a lot of immaturity and also made a lot of bad decisions when the pressure was turned up.  He was able to overcome all of that but he still has not won the hearts of many.

Lebron showed how much he had grown up during this playoff run.  He not only had his best playoff games and stats ever but he also handled the loses and the dealings with the media better.  Now of course James is not the only player on the Heat but he is their focal point and as he goes so does the team.  The Heat are a talented group with two other superstars in Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade plus a good cast of supporting players.  They can win without James but need him to win it all.  He came through big during this post season and we should be seeing more of this in the years to come.

The “James Haters” are still out there and they are showing everyone that they are not going anywhere.  In many ways James created a lot of this himself.  He turned a lot of people off during his time in Cleveland with his behavior during their failed post season runs.  His biggest offense would have to be the way he left Cleveland and let the world know where he was going.   In a live prime time special James from a Boys and Girls Club in Ohio told the world he would be going to…Maimi, really?  James may never let that one down.

Most of James’ faults in the past could have been put away with the Heat capturing the NBA Championship on Thursday.  Except there is one more thing lingering around.  When he went to Miami in 2010 the Heat had this ridiculous pep rally event to show off James and he said something that will haunt him probably until he retires.  The great Lebron told the fans of Miami that they were not only winning 1 championship but 6.  Yeah he really said that.  Whether that will happen is unlikely but even if it was he made a bad move by saying that.  Because he said that it takes away from every championship he will win until he reaches that number.  The anti-Lebron fans and media will not forget that anytime soon if ever.

Lebron has accomplished great things in the league and has finally got the championship monkey off of his back.  He still has a ways to go to clear his image.  If he continues to mature and wins another championship or two it is possible the haters will disappear.  If he doesn’t then Lebron will be remembered not only for his incredible talent but also being known as the most polarizing player in the history of the NBA and maybe even professional sports.

Lebron VS Durant, Who Will Take The Title?

Kevin Durant (Left) and Lebron James (Right), two of the NBA’s best take to the court to see who is the best in the NBA Finals.
(photo by: Troy Ballard/Getty Images)

Tonight Game 1 of the NBA Finals takes place tonight. The Miami Heat will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City. Two of the NBA’s best player will match up in the same position in the same series for the greatest prize in all of Basketball.

The Heat have gone through the playoffs with some minor issues but did not really have a problem until the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. The Heat ended up taking the series in 7 games. Lebron had a incredible game 6 in that series where he scored 45 points and had 15 rebounds. Lebron proved a lot of the critics wrong that said he can’t win an elimination playoff game. The series with the Celtics has prepped the Heat and Lebron for their battle with the Thunder.

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder have also had a good playoff run this year. The worst situation they were in was in their Western Conference Finals series against the San Antonio Spurs. The Thunder were losing the series by 2 games to 0 until they kicked things into gear and won the next 4 games to take the series. The Thunder impressed by taking the series from a very tough spurs team that was undefeated until they matched up with the Thunder. Kevin Durant is the leader of the Thunder and has been one of the best in basketball for the last couple of years. The Thunder want to show the world what they have on the big stage and they will get their opportunity tonight.

This is a very intriguing match up between the Thunder and Heat. The most intriguing aspect has to be Lebron VS Durant.

Durant is the young player that keeps getting better every year and with in no time could be the best player from year to year. He and Lebron were neck and neck this year for the MVP trophy of this season. Durant is a player that in no time will be a mega star.

Lebron is an incredible player and will probably go down as one of the top 10 players ever in the league. Lebron has caused a lot of criticism with his falling apart in games when he needs to step up. He has also never won an NBA Title yet, many thought it would be a short time before he won a title when he was drafted in 2003. Oh yeah, Lebron also pissed off the city of Cleveland and a nation of basketball fans when he left the Cavs in 2010 to play for the Miami Heat on a super team with 3 big stars. The Heat lost in 6 games to the Dallas Mavericks last year in the same NBA Finals.

Can Lebron win his 1st NBA Championship? Can Kevin Durant win his 1st also and defeat the great Lebron and the Heat? We will find out pretty soon. I think this will be a very close series. I think that Kevin Durant and the Thunder can take this series in 6 or 7 games. I feel Lebron will not take the title for another year in a row. He just does not have the heart and I don’t know if he will ever take a ring home. Durant is going to amaze a lot of fans and the sports world this series. He will probably take his 1st title and show that he is the new big superstar once and for all. It is just a matter of time before we see how it all unfolds. It will be a series to enjoy no matter what happens.

The Kings Cup

The Kings Game 2 star Jeff Carter celebrates with hockey’s most prized trophy the Stanley Cup.
(Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Kings shocked the sports world during this NHL postseason.  At a time when NHL coverage on the news and sports channels usually takes a back seat to what is happening in the NBA’s postseason,  the Kings had all of the attention.  On Monday night the Kings won Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the New Jersey Devils. It was   their first Stanley Cup trophy in the franchises 45 year history.

It was an amazing year for the Kings who began the year with not very high expectations.  Some figured they could make the playoffs but no one had any idea what was about to occur when the season kicked off last Fall.

The Kings had an average regular season finishing with a record of 40 wins, 27 loses and 15overtime loses.  When April started and the final games before the post season were about to be played many thought the Kings would not even qualify for the playoffs.  Well they did but barely and got the placed in the playoffs as the 8th seed.  The Kings faced off against the 1st seeded Vancouver Canucks and shocked the hockey world by taking the series in 5 games.  It was their first time making it out of the first round since 2001.  The Kings then swept the 2nd seeded St. Louis Blues and the hockey world started to think, maybe these guys are for real.  It was confirmed when the Kings took game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Phoenix Coyotes by a score of 4-3 in overtime to advance into the Finals.  The Kings made history during this incredible playoff run by being the first 8th seeded team to beat both the 1st and 2nd seeded teams in the playoffs.

There were high expectations for the Kings by the time they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.  They were so dominant and seemed to breeze through the first 3 rounds.  The Kings did not lose any road games during the first 3 rounds of the NHL postseason.  The Kings had about a week off before the Cup was to begin.  Some were worried they might lose the momentum they had built up in the previous month of play.  Momentum ended up not being a problem for the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Stanley Cup Finals started on May 30th between the Kings and the Devils.  Game 1 took place in New Jersey and the sports world was on the edge of it seat to see if the Kings could keep up their incredible run and capture the cup.  The Kings took game 1 in overtime by a score of 2-1 with a goal from Anze Kopitar.  Game 2 was a similar story when both teams were tied 1-1 after 3 periods.  The Kings received a goal from Jeff Carter to win the game 2-1 over the Devils.

Games 3 and 4 took place in L.A. at the Staples Center.  The Kings would blow out the veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur and the Devils 4 goals to 0.  As game 4 approached it looked like the Kings would get the sweep and make NHL History not only for their playoff run but their Finals run as well.  With game 4 came disappointment came with a 3-1 lose as the series would then head back to New Jersey for game 5.

Game 5 was another disappointment with a close 2-1 lose.  But the good news was that the series was headed back to L.A. for game 6 and the Kings were only 1 win away from the Championship.

Game 6 brought an incredible blow out victory.  The Kings goaltender Johnathan Quick was named the series MVP for his great play during the Finals.  Quick also had a great postseason overall winning 16 games and only losing 4 over the month and a half playoff season. The Kings defeated the Devils 6-1 and sealed their place in NHL History as one of the most surprising champions to have ever come out of the NHL postseason.

This Stanley Cup victory will never be forgotten by the hockey world or the sports world for that matter.  The city of L.A. needed this victory at a time when the Lakers and Clippers both were knocked out of the NBA Playoffs early.  The city of L.A. got red hot over the Kings outstanding postseason run.  Many casual fans that disappeared when Wayne Gretzky left the team for the Rangers in the late 90’s were back.  The American Hockey scene needed this victory as well.  This could spark excitement and push the sport even further in the American Culture.

The Kings are as they proved a very talented and young team that could dominate the NHL for years to come.  I know that many fans will be waiting for next season to see if the Kings return to their 2012 playoff form.  But until then we should acknowledge how great of a team this was and how much of a story book playoff run this 2011-2012 Kings team had.  Long live the Kings!

The Miami Marlins Are on Fire!

Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez during Thursday’s victory over the Huston Astros
(Getty Images)

If you have been living under a rock for the past two weeks here is a message for you,  the Miami Marlins are on fire!  The Marlins have won 9 of there last 10 games.  They just came off of their best road trip ever taking 8 of 9 games during the trip. First sweeping the Giants in San Francisco, followed by a sweep of the Padres in San Diego and finishing the road trip taking 2 of 3 games from the Huston Astros.  The road trip was the best in franchise history.

The pitching of Carlos Zambrano is probably one of the most surprising things to have happened for the team in the past 2 weeks.  Zambrano recorded a complete game win earlier this week against the Astros.  Many expected him to fall apart this year and pitch poorly based on his past in Chicago playing for the Cubs.  He is showing all of the critics that he still has it and is here to stay.

Their other pitching stud Anibal Sanchez continued his winning ways picking up his 4th win on the road trip.  He pitched a total of 14 innings with 13 strikeouts.  Sanchez leads the team in strikeouts with 46 for the season.  He has really blossomed over the years into a big time pitcher and he is still highly underrated.

On the offensive side of the ball the Marlins have come alive.  Giancarlo Stanton snapped out of his funk blasting 5 home runs and bringing in 8 RBI’s on the road trip.   Second baseman Omar Infante proved very valuable with 10 hits, 1 home run and 8 RBI’s.  Infante is currently batting .342 for the season and does not seem to be slowing down any time soon.  The offense was bright and really picked up the optimism of Marlins Nation.

The Marlins defeated the New York Mets on Friday at home by of score of 6-5.  The Fish have been dominating most of the games they have played this past two weeks.  The other games where they didn’t squash their opponents they have come back to win in the late innings.

The Marlins are going into their Saturday game against the Mets holding a record of 17 wins and 15 losses.  They are only 3 games back from first place in the NL East.  The lead in the NL East is currently held by the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves.  That spot could be held by the fish in about a week if they keep up their superb play up.

The team started the season with a rocky first month.  They finished the month of April with an under .500 win percentage.  They received little production from power hitter Giancarlo Stanton,  which was a huge and disappointing surprise.   Their big time free agent Heath Bell was not pitching well from the closing spot and blowing games.  Jose Reyes also had his problem in the form of getting hits. Things did not look great after the first month of baseball.

A new month brought new hope and a chance for redemption.  And boy have the Marlins taken advantage of the restart in the form of a long road trip.  I think this is the team that we were meant to see, and will continue to see for the rest of the season.  They are finally heading places and the fans are getting excited about their prospects of winning.  The goal for this season is taking the NL East crown for the first time in franchise history and surging through the playoff en route to their 3rd World Series title.  The season is long and things could change, but I have confidence that what has happened in the last 2 weeks we will be seeing more of deep into the season.  So there is only one thing to be said “NL East watch out the Fish are coming”.

Marlins bright future

20120317-014626.jpg The new era of the Marlins is upon us. No longer the “Florida” Marlins they are now known as the “Miami” Marlins. They have a new ballpark which is breath taking. They also have a owner in Jeffery Loria who has finally put his money where his mouth is.

The team came into existence in 1993 and captured their first Championship in 1997. Then the team was dismantled and traded away. One interesting thing happened during the “Fire sale”, they were able to acquire talent that would win them their second and last championship in 2003 when they upset the favorite New York Yankees in the World Series.

The Marlins have not had any note worthy seasons since that championship year of 2003. They have also not made the playoffs in the years that have followed. Intact there was strong indication in 2005 that the team might leave South Florida and Florida completely due to the tax payers not wanting to foot a major part of the bill for a new stadium. A deal was made and the new ballpark in downtown Miami on the site of the former Orange Bowl is finished and ready for baseball.

During the off season the Marlins went crazy and acquired big time free agents for big time money. Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle being the two highlights of the off season acquisitions. Former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was hired on to replace The retired Jack McKeon.

This season will be a great one for the Marlins and their fans. Everything seems to have fallen into place and the once forgotten team has become the talk of the baseball world. They are prepared and ready to win and have assembled a team that will surely be contenders in the tough NL east. With the season less than a month away it’s time to “playball” now!