Dec 18, 2010

The Many Tragedies of Cleveland Professional Sports

A look back on the recent trouble of the Cavaliers, Indians and Browns. The many franchises of Cleveland, which have had their share of difficulties in recent years.

When LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers last offseason to go to Miami Heat, any hopes of a Cleveland franchise winning a championship in the near future, went with it. His return to Cleveland last month got me to thinking of what cities have experienced the most heartbreak over the years. This will be a two-part series, which will first highlight Cleveland. The second installment will feature the loveable losers of the midway; Chicago. With a population of over 430,000 people, Cleveland, Ohio is home to some of the most emotional fans in the United States.

Indians have produced quality talent (C.C. Sabathia, Grady Sizemore, and Manny Ramirez) but haven’t brought Championship to team since 1948

Their last appearance in the fall classic was in 1995 when they lost to the Atlanta Braves in six games. The ’95 team was full of talented young powerful bats (Ramirez, Jim Thome & Albert Belle) as well as quality arms (Dennis Martinez & Orel Hershiser). More recently, the team has produced quality athletes through the farm system, but they haven’t been able to put the talent together on a consistent basis.

The story seems to be the same for the Indians. They draft well, trade well, and have a good minor league system that helps develop top stars, but when it’ time to pay them, they can’t. It happened with Sabathia in 2008. In the last year of his contract, he was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers. It happened with Victor Martinez in 2009. Martinez wound up in Boston during the last year of his contract – excluding option years, and more recently signed with the AL Central division rival, Detroit Tigers.

Sizemore was acquired in 2002 from the Montreal Expos in a six-player deal involving Bartolo Colon. He has put up decent numbers since his rookie year in 2005, but injuries have been a big issue over the past two seasons. Even when healthy, the Indians front office hasn’t put enough talent around him to succeed. With a combined record of 215 – 271 since their last playoff appearance in 2007, the Indians need to revamp the whole team to end the draught.

Since the last time the Indians won a World Series, there have been 12 Presidents and six different Popes.

Cavaliers only hope of winning NBA Title bolts to Miami

When James left his home state of Cleveland for the sunny Miami, Florida, the Cavs fans only hopes of winning a title left. The Cavs built the team around James, the #1 overall draft pick in the 2003 draft. Coming straight to the NBA from high school didn’t bother James as he won the Rookie of the Year averaging 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.

Cleveland fans will never forget how they felt James gave up on them during the playoffs last year against the Boston Celtics. His “Decision” show on ESPN, where he announced to the world where he intended to play, angered Cleveland fans, and made him a villain in the eyes of many, including the legends of the game. Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan are among the many veterans who have been open about their feelings about the show and decision. James has brushed off all criticism in his Nike ad.
Pre-James, there wasn’t much to cheer about in Cleveland going back to the days of Craig Ehlo, Danny Ferry & Mark Price. The post-James Cavs are in the same position as Anderson Varejao & Moe Williams aren’t going to bring any titles home. The top free agents will not want to play in Cleveland after seeing how owner Dan Gilbert reacted following James decision to leave. The team will have to hope for a lottery pick in the draft, where they might be able to acquire a top player to replace James.

Cavaliers fans have seen ten Summer Olympics since the team’s inception in 1970 with zero titles.

Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy are future stars in the Dawg Pound

The stars may be aligning for the Browns. Sending draft bust Brady Quinn to the Denver Broncos for running back Hillis might be the best move this franchise has made in years. Along with rookie McCoy, the two young stars are attempting to turn around a franchise that has had to winning seasons over the last ten years (59 – 98 combined record). The Browns haven’t seen postseason play since 2002 when Tim Couch was starting quarterback and Butch Davis was the Head Coach.

The Browns have been up and down in 2010, and Coach Eric Mangini has found a way to make his guys play for a change. He still lacks decision making skills, as evident by the 4th and goal in the 1st quarter vs. the Buffalo Bills in Week 14 (kicked field goal instead of going for touchdown).

This has been a troubled city for many years. The best hope for success for all Cleveland fans would go like this.

1. Browns – Although they play in the very tough AFC North with Pittsburgh and Baltimore, the NFL is a league of parity. Any team can have a bad season, and any team can come out of nowhere and succeed.
2. Indians – A Re-occurring trend as the Indians play in the tough AL Central with Minnesota and Detroit. In baseball, you either succeed by paying for talent (NYY, BOS) or by building within (MIN, TB). The Indians best chance is by building within.
3. The Cavaliers have no chance in the near future, unless they and the top pick in one of the next two drafts, and convince top tier free agents to come to Cleveland.

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