It is easy to be upbeat about sports in the city of Cleveland and throughout northeast Ohio these days, a contrast from, oh, let’s say the last half century.
That’s what a professional sports championship does for an area. Instead of talking and writing about what a team needs to do to win, we can celebrate and bask in the glow of having that feeling a fan can have when the squad they follow has already won.
That’s why June 19, 2016 will forever be a special date to a Cleveland sports fan. It’s the date 52 years of waiting for a winner ended.
And to think, just 4-1/2 months later, we almost got to experience that kind of joy again, when Rajai Davis tied Game 7 of the World Series with a home run. Unfortunately, a rain delay got in the way of the Indians attempt to copy the Cavaliers’ title, and they fell one inning short of winning the World Series.
That’s what 2016 was all about in a nutshell.
We doubt that 20 years from now, we will remember the Browns going 1-15 (maybe). But we will forever remember Kyrie Irving’s three pointer to give the wine and gold the lead they would never relinquish.
We will not forget the Golden State shot missing and LeBron James and Kevin Love looking at each other under the basket, realizing they were NBA Champions.
It still gives us a chill when we hear the words “NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers”.
For many years to come, James, Irving, Love and the rest of the Cavs will be heroes in this area. And when they are all retired and they come back in 2026 for the 10th anniversary of the title, they will still get a standing ovation.
And it was very cool when the newly crowned Cavs jumped on board the Tribe train throughout the playoffs and World Series, showing a bunch of younger sports fans that the Indians can be cool too. If LeBron and the Cavs thought so, then it was alright.
The Tribe started developing their own heroes too. People started recognizing the play of the city’s next superstar in Francisco Lindor and fell in love with Jose Ramirez. And don’t forget the impact Adam Miller had either.
Suddenly, folks started realizing that the only name they knew on the local baseball team wasn’t the manager. Although, Tito has one name status along the shores of Lake Erie.
After the Cavs victory, the area was in party mode all week. We finally had a victory parade downtown and many people who grew up here returned for that event, something they thought might never happen in their lifetime.
The Lake Erie Monsters won the AHL Calder Cup for the first time since 1964. Stipe Miocic won the UFC heavyweight championship and defended his title for the first time right here in Cleveland.
LeBron James was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year for 2016, and is also AP’s Male Athlete of the Year.
The Indians signed a big, big time free agent in slugger Edwin Encarnacion, arguably the best power hitter in baseball over the last five years.
And although the Browns’ season was forgettable, with just one victory to date (and hopefully no more), they may emerge with the chance to have the first overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Hopefully, we will never experience this kind of drought when in comes to winning again. 52 years is way too long.
Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new era in Cleveland sports. One where we win a bunch of times. We can all get used to that feeling.