Next week, something will happen that doesn’t occur all that often in these parts.
A Cleveland team is playing for a professional sports league championship. And as not to offend the indoor soccer fans in northeast Ohio, it is happening in one of the “big four” sports.
The last time a team from Cleveland had a chance to bring home a title was 2007, when the Cavaliers were swept in four straight by the San Antonio Spurs.
But when you think back since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964, there hasn’t been many times where one of our teams had a chance to end our championship drought.
The first time was in 1965, a time when we didn’t have a jinx or a curse, because the Browns were among pro football’s elite. They were the defending champions and went into Green Bay and were defeated by Vince Lombardi’s team, 23-12.
Little did we know then that the Browns wouldn’t have another chance to win a title, now called the Super Bowl. That string continues to this day.
It took 30 years before another Cleveland squad played for the ultimate prize, when the Indians dominated the American League with 100 wins in a 144 game schedule and ran through the playoffs to win the AL Championship and get to the World Series for the first time since 1954.
Alas, the Atlanta Braves defeated them 4-2 to take the trophy.
It didn’t take long to have another chance, as the Tribe returned to the World Series just two years later, and got as close as any team to winning the big prize, carrying a lead into the ninth inning of the seventh and deciding game, before the Florida Marlins tied it and won it in extra innings.
There have been stories told about how the Commissioner’s Trophy was in the Indians’ locker room, and the clubhouse was being readied for a celebration, only to have it all taken away.
That one stings the most. A championship was right in our hands, and it was taken away with the snap of a finger.
It was ten more years before Cleveland got another shot at a title with the Cavs in 2007, and it has taken another eight years before this opportunity.
For all the soul crushing moments we have endured as a fandom, outside of the ’97 World Series, they occurred before a chance to play for a title.
The Browns’ heart breaks all occurred in the AFC Championship game, a step before the Super Bowl, and “The Shot” happened to the Cavaliers in a first round series against the Bulls.
Our point is this, savor the moment. Even though the city has waited 51 years for a professional sports title, what is even more stunning is there haven’t been all that many opportunities. This is just the fifth in the last 50 years.
Of course, if the Cavs were to lose to Golden State in The Finals, that wouldn’t make the pain and the disappointment wouldn’t be any less.
Just let it soak in, there are only two teams remaining in the NBA, and one of them is from Cleveland.