I'm not exactly sure what you would call this decade; the two thousands, the single digits, the naughts. But whatever the name, this was a decade, and a year, that Cleveland sports fans would rather forget. Taking a look at some of the sports memories for the past decade, I found that there were surprisingly more peak moments in Cleveland sports than I had originally presumed. But the big picture is that none of those points turned into championships. One would hope that with three major sports teams that, eventually, one year for the next ten, one team would turn into a real winner. But then again, this is Cleveland.
The Browns actually made the playoffs in 2002 under the combined management of Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb. Wait, what? The Browns; in the playoffs? In January? Against the Steelers? And it wasn't even that long ago. Everyone around here likes to make it seem that the Browns have never made it to the big dance, or, a fraction of the big dance. And they almost made it again in 2007 if it weren't for the Indianapolis Colts resting their starters against division rival Tennessee on Sunday Night Football. That Browns team was in several ways better than the one in 2002.
Three years back, Derek Anderson was just 213 yards shy of 4,000 for the year, yes, 4,000; with three zeros in it! He was one touchdown shy of 30 for the 07 campaign, and nearly made the Pro Bowl. After that, he was complete garbage, and I don't think I have ever seen any player go from that marvelous to that appalling. Jamal Lewis established a good running game behind then rookie Joe Thomas, and Braylon actually had a substance other than led in his hands to reel in 80 receptions. Braylon averaged over 16 yards per catch that year, one of the best in recent Browns memory.
Kellen Winslow's Hall of Fame potential talent was a nice complement to him on the other side, but that did not work out to Cleveland's displeasure. Fans may not miss his skills on a motorcycle, but they certainly miss his athletic ability on the field.
Then you have the Tribe; whose epic fall at the hands of the then-dynasty-forming Boston Red Sox while up 3-1 was a hard one still felt in the depths of the Progressive Field stands. The Indians may not be back to the post season for a number of years still, but they had some decent teams, including 2005 when they won 93 games.
But 2007 was the best year, no doubt. Victor Martinez led that team in every triple crown offensive category, and CC Sabathia and Fausto Carmona comprised perhaps the best one-two punch in the league. Martinez, Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner, Jhonny Peralta and even Ryan Garko all hit 20 or more round trippers that season. Sabathia, Carmona and Paul Byrd each won 15 games or better.
Mind you, this was all while Cliff Lee was re-discovering his love of baseball in the minor leagues. Had the dominant Cliff Lee been there...wow.
Finally, there are our Cavs. This one was meant for last purposely to desperately try to avoid the proper noun "Le-Quit." Opps! I said it. Well, it was the inevitable anyways. But perhaps discussion of this team would bring painful or livid memories of a certain so-and-so. A certain "chosen one." A certain "King." And most definitely a certain 6 game series against the Boston Celtics. There was little that this Cav's team could do without him, as experienced this season. So perhaps it would be best not to reflect on that team.
So as far as a new year's resolution goes: Well, I don't really have one. Sorry to make you read this whole article expecting a helpful tip or two.
But I will say this: There are cities out there (no names please) with teams that have missed the playoffs in their respective sport for 16 straight years. There are cities that have had to wait, and are still waiting 100 plus years to see their team win a championship. Others have never won a championship. Other cities have no teams at all.
So perhaps we should all be more appreciative of our Browns, Indians and Cavaliers. The entertainment (or sometimes lack there of) that they bring to the table is what they work for day in and day out. And the things that they can do off the field for the betterment of our society is also beneficial.
Happy new year and God bless!