2011 was a tough year for Cleveland sports fans.
Yes, the Indians provided some highlights in the spring by getting off to a 30-15 start, but the bats stopped producing and the team wound up under the .500 mark for the year at 80-82.
Cleveland State got to the NIT in college basketball, and won a game in the tournament before bowing out.
That ends the highlight portion of this blog.
The Cavaliers endured a record 26 game losing streak, and the Browns are suffering through another 10 loss season, their seventh in the last eight years.
Is there any hope for Cleveland sports? If you are impatient by nature, then the answer is probably not.
The Indians had the best finish of the three professional teams here, but haven’t really done anything to build the modicum of success they had last year.
They did acquire pitcher Derek Lowe, a veteran innings eater, to help the back of the rotation, but they also gave a good deal of the money they had to spend this off-season to OF Grady Sizemore, who hasn’t played well since 2008.
That’s a huge gamble, and one not likely to pay off the way the organization thinks. The Tribe is a team crying for an experienced right-handed bat, but came up empty for Josh Willingham (Twins) and Michael Cuddyer (Rockies). They also finished “second” for switch-hitter Carlos Beltran.
It’s the same old story for the Indians. Tales of limited budget, poor economy in Cleveland, etc. Detroit has similar problems, yet seem to be able to have a payroll over $100 million.
That means the real issue is the solvency of the ownership, and things won’t get better for the Tribe until that changes.
The Browns had some promise coming into 2011, with team president Mike Holmgren having his coach, Pat Shurmur, in place. Holmgren and GM Tom Heckert are trying to build the team correctly, by building through the draft. Cleveland went from one of the oldest teams in the NFL to one of the youngest in one year.
Still, this team has many questions, the biggest one involving its quarterback going forward. Can Colt McCoy be a good NFL signal caller?
The next big question is can Shurmur be a head coach in the league? Based on this year, you cannot blame anyone for having doubts.
The Browns look disorganized on a weekly basis, and the offensive game plan is atrocious. If Shurmur isn’t the guy, then Holmgren and Heckert are just spinning their wheels with him.
It is likely Heckert will have another top five draft pick to use in the spring, and this team still needs an infusion of talent. That’s why it says here, the Browns will pass on a quarterback. They can’t take a chance on getting no return in 2012 on that pick, or Atlanta’s pick in the first round.
The Cavaliers did get the first pick in the NBA draft last summer, and took Kyrie Irving with that choice and PF Tristan Thompson with the 4th selection. Both players look good so far, but the wine and gold still need more help.
This year looks like another step in the rebuilding process with another lottery pick to come in June.
GM Chris Grant does have some trade chips to help speed up the deal in point guard Ramon Sessions and forward Antawn Jamison, and this squad desperately needs someone to put the ball in the basket.
And they need more athleticism to improve at the defensive end.
No, it doesn’t look like 2012 will be the year that end this city’s championship drought. Instead, it looks like we all will get more familiar with the word “rebuilding”.