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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.

Jose Reyes’ Hitting Streak Is Holding Strong At 22 Games

The Miami Marlins are having a disappointing season, so much so that no one saw this coming. The team headed into the 2012 season with so much hope and excitement for what could be. They have dismantled the team to the point it hardly resembles the team that was supposed to make the playoffs when the year began. As of Saturday the team sits 14.5 games behind the 1st place Washington Nationals and a Wildcard birth looks very unlikely. The only bright spot that can be seen at the point is Jose Reyes and his hot hitting streak.

Jose Reyes
(Photo By Al Bello/Getty Images)

Jose Reyes began this hitting streak on July 13th and is holding strong at 22 games going into Saturday’s game against the Nationals. Reyes went 1-3 in the first game of Friday’s double header with the Nationals and 3-5 in the second game. Reyes has always been a great hitter but has really improved his hitting and it shows with this current streak. He broke his previous streak of 19 games this past week.

Luis Castillo holds the team record for most consecutive games with a hit with 35 games in 2002. That is a mark that Reyes has a strong chance of beating. The have been 55 players in the history of Major League Baseball to have at least 30 consecutive games with a hit. Reyes is the caliber of hitter and streaky enough to become number 56. The question the will be asked if he can make it past 30 will be how far can he go?

Everyone knows that Joe DiMaggio holds the record at 56 games in 1941 and that mark is very unlikely to be broken soon if ever. The closest anyone has come in the last 20 years was the Phillies Jimmy Rollins in the 2005 and 2006 seasons with 38 games. If anyone was going to make a good run and come close to DiMaggio in this era of baseball it would be Joe Reyes. Reyes is still very young and has a lot of potential as a hitter even though he is already one of the best in baseball. Reyes is the defending National League batting champion and this will not be his last claim to that title.

As this season grows older and the Marlins fall deeper in the standings the Marlins might have something to get excited about. That rests solely in the hands of Jose Reyes and his bat. Could we be watching history right now? It is too early to tell but we are seeing an amazing streak and its time for the sports world to pay attention to Reyes. If they don’t start now they may be missing history in the making.

The Marlins Part Ways With Hanley Ramirez

This season has been very disappointing for the Miami Marlins.  They showed that they are essentially giving up on hopes for the playoffs this season by trading some of their top stars.  Rebuilding mode has already started when this team was supposed to be ready to contend this year.  They have a strong focus on pitching in their trades this week, that is a spot they definitely need help in.

The first trade came on Tuesday when the Marlins sent Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers.  Infante has had a decent season thus far and had led the team to numerous victories.  Sanchez has been with the club for a few years and been a reliable starter at times. Sanchez had a rough start to the season but leveled out towards the summer.  The Marlins received top-rated pitching prospect Jacob Turner from the Tigers in the deal.

Hanley Ramirez
(Getty Images)

On Wednesday the Marlins traded away a star they coveted very heavily just a couple of years ago.  Going into this season no one suspected that the Marlins would not finish the season with Hanley Ramirez.  The rumors started floating around last week that the team was looking at offers for the former N.L. batting champion and multiple time All Star.  The Marlins made a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers to send Ramirez and pitcher Randy Choate to California.  The Marlins received pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and a minor leaguer in the deal.

Hanley Ramirez will never be forgotten by the franchise.  He was acquired from the Boston Redsox in the 2005 trade that sent Josh Beckett to Boston.  The Marlins had coveted and groomed Ramirez as their big star of the future.  He had a few season where he played really well and even one a batting title.  But the last couple of years has seen Ramirez numbers drop significantly.  The Marlins owe a lot of credit to Ramirez for helping them get a new stadium built in Miami for the club.  The team signed Ramirez to a 6 year deal a few years ago to show the city of Miami tax payers that they were committed to building a contender.  A lot has changed in the last few years and Ramirez is no longer a Miami Marlin.

The Marlins have got to start building a team built for the future.  The team has been out of contention for too long.  A lot of the blame falls on pitching but really its everything.  The Marlins franchise should have been contenders this year but have shown themselves not to be a team that can contend.  The decision to trade some of their top talent is questionable
but at least they are receiving top young pitching talent for the future.  The city of Miami will lose their patience with the team really quickly if they don’t get a team on the field that not only looks like contenders but play like contenders.

Dream Match Up: 1997 Marlins VS 2003 Marlins

The Florida Marlins have been one of the most unusual franchises in the history of baseball.  They have only been in existence for 19 years and have had really highs and dramatic lows.  They have captured 2 World Series Championships, the first in 1997 and 2003.  They have also had some of the worst teams in recent memory.  Their 1998 squad was the first team to lose over 100 games after winning the World Series.  The Marlins have been up and down since their last title.  I have decided to use the technology available today with sports simulators like Whatifsports.com to find out what Marlins team was the greatest.  Before that I will give you an idea what we have here in each team, so let’s take a look.

The 1997 Florida Marlins (92-70 record, entered the N.L. Playoffs by way of the Wild Card)

The 1997 Florida Marlins
(Getty Images)

The Marlins entered their 5th season with high hopes.  The field was full of great players of that time.  Bobby Bonilla came in as the big free agent acquisition from the previous off season.  The squad also had the hard hitting Gary Sheffield, “Mr. Marlin” Jeff Conine and the best fielding catchers of that season in Charles Johnson to name a few.  This Marlins team was assembled by then owner Wayne Huizenga to turn the tax payers of Miami onto the idea of funding a baseball only stadium.  That did not happen but the team did accomplish the unbelievable.  The Marlins swept the San Fansisco Giants in the N.L. Divisional round and headed into the N.L.C.S. versus a very dominant Atlanta Braves team.  The Marlins won that series in 6 games.  The most memorable game of that series was when the rookie Cuban defector Livan Hernandez throw for 15 strike outs in game 5 and defeated one of the best pitchers of the day in Greg Maddux with a 2-1 victory.  The Marlins charged into the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.  The Marlins won the first game which was played in Miami in the state of Florida’s 1st World Series Game.  The teams kept switching off wins the entire  World Series.  In game 7 of the 1997 World Series the Marlins came out on top when Edgar Renteria batted in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th, which was the mid season acquisition of Craig Counsell.  This team was a great on e and will go down as the state of Florida’s 1st World Series Champions.

The 2003 Florida Marlins (91-71 record, entered the N.L. Playoffs by way of the Wild Card)

The 2003 Florida Marlins
(Getty Images)

This Marlins squad was built a lot in part to the 1998 fire sale.  One of the players received during the sale would end up being the 1st baseman from the 2003 championship team Derek Lee.  Many of the draft picks acquired during that time drafted many of the players on this championship team.  When the season started the team did not have very high expectations but was expected to fair better than they did in the first two months of the season.  The Marlins had a record of 16-22 when manager Jeff Torborg was fired and replaced by 72 year old Jack McKeon in May.  The season was about to turn around in large part to mid season call ups Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera.  The team which also acquired veteran Jeff Conine back during the middle of the season made it into the playoffs through a wild card bid.  Like the team did in 1997 this team beat the Giants in the Divisional Playoff Series to advance to the N.L.C.S. to face the Chicago Cubs.  The Marlins won the N.L.C.S. against the Cubs in 7 games.  The team was almost eliminated in game 6 but had a miracle in the late innings of the game and were able to stay alive until game 7.  The World Series had the Marlins in the usual spot as the underdog against the New York Yankees. The Marlins rode the incredible pitching of Josh Beckett to beat the Yanks in 6 games.  This team shocked the world more than the 1997 team.  This squad was also younger and more inexperienced than the 1997 squad but proved themselves to be just a great.

The Simulation via Whatifsports.com – 1997 Marlins VS 2003 Marlins

I decided to go with a one game championship to determine which World Series team was the best.  The 2003 squad got the 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.  The 1997 team came up with 1 run in the bottom of the first to trail by only 1 run.  The next and only additional runs of the game came in the 5th inning when the 1997 team put 2 runs on the board which would seal the victory. The 1997 team had 10 hits while the 2003 team had just 7 hits total.  Kevin Brown won the game with 8 innings pitched and Rob Nen got the save.  Gary Sheffield had a home run and 2 RBI’s in the winning effort.  The losing pitcher was Carl Pavano and the 2003 team had runs scored by Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo the only RBI came from Derek Lee.  This was a very tight game and had some good pitching from both teams.  The offense of both teams was toned down a bit by both Kevin Brown and Carl Pavano.

Champions: 1997 Florida Marlins

The Ultimate Marlins team the 1997 Florida Marlins
(Getty Images)

My thoughts

This was a dream match up that all Marlins fans would love to see but unfortunately we have only simulation.  I feel that if we could see these two great teams face off this is the likely outcome.  The 1997 team was more experienced and would have handled the game much better than the 2003 team.  The offensive power was greater and the bats were better on the 1997 team.  Both teams were great but on this night the 1997 Florida Marlins proved themselves to be the ultimate champions.