Cleveland Sports, Historically Good at Losing.


The city of Cleveland has been plagued for years with the inability to win a professional sports championship.  The list of heartbreaking losses is long and distinguished. The last championship won in one of the four major sports was the Indians in 1948. I personally do not count the Browns championships in the pre-Super Bowl era. The first Super Bowl wasn’t played until January of 1967, in which the Browns have never made an appearance. This city has suffered heartbreak on many levels. The variety of losses have come in all three pro sports and at all levels of the playoffs and championship series.

The most iconic losses have come from the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were very good in the late 80’s but they have suffered two iconic playoff losses. First of which was “The Drive”

“The Drive refers to an offensive series in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game played on January 11, 1987 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium between the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns. Broncos quarterback John Elway, in a span of 5 minutes and 2 seconds, led his team 98 yards in 15 plays to tie the game with 37 seconds left in regulation. Denver won the game in overtime with a field goal, 23–20.” ( Excerpt Courtesy of Wikipedia-

This was the first of many heartbreaking losses that the city of Cleveland would go on to experience. Just one year later the Browns would get a chance at redemption verses the Denver Broncos. This time the Browns were in Denver and they were going for the game tying touchdown. Then the infamous “Fumble” happened.

“In American football, The Fumble refers to a play in the AFC Championship Game between the Browns and Broncos on January 17, 1988 at Mile High Stadium. With 1:12 left, Browns running back Earnest Byner fumbled while trying to score the game-tying touchdown, and the Broncos went on to win 38–33.” (Excerpt courtesy of Wikipedia-

The Browns would fail to ever recover from these losses. After 1989 the Browns would only reach the playoffs in 94’ and 02’. Not to mention, in-between these playoff appearances, Art Model had moved the franchise to Baltimore. Since the 1999 expansion season for the new Browns, the franchise has been in a tailspin of quarterbacks and head coaches.

The Indians have also suffered from major losses in the playoffs. They have been to the World Series twice since 1948. They went in 1995 and 1997. I would argue the 1995 team was the better of the two teams. However, the loss in 1997 was much more heart breaking than the 95 loss. The 97 season ended in a walk-off, game 7 win, for the Florida Marlins. Edgar Rentaria singled up he middle, scoring Craig Counsel, the winning run of the series. Thus, ending the Indians season. In the 9th inning the Indians were up by 1 with 1 out. They ended up blowing the lead and then losing as mentioned in extra innings.

An even worse playoff loss was in the ALCS in 2007. The Indians were leading the Boston Red Sox 3 games to 1. The Indians went into game 5 at home with CC Sabathia on the mound. CC would go on to win the 2007 CY Young award. The Indians had three chances to beat the Red Sox, starting with the CY Young winner, and the 4th place CY Young candidate in Fausto Carmona, (who the Indians would find out years later was really Roberto Hernandez.) pitching in game 6. The Indians would go on to lose three in a row and Boston went to the World Series and swept the Colorado Rockies. Some argue that the Indians would have been a favorite and a lock to beat the Rockies in the World Series, however, it was yet another devastating loss in Cleveland Sports history.

The Cavaliers have had their fair share of demoralizing losses. In 1989, Michael Jordan hit “The Shot”  at the buzzer to knock the Cavs out of the playoffs. Somehow “The Drive” and “The Shot” have made it into sports mythology and have stuck, even at a national level.

The Lebron James years were also very disappointing. The Cavs were the best regular season team in 2009 and 2010, yet they crashed and burned in the playoffs. Obviously we all know that Lebron left the Cavs after the 2010 playoff meltdown. The franchise has yet to recover, as they have not made the playoffs since 2010.

The city of Cleveland is known nationally as the mistake on the lake. Clearly there are events that have led to this horrible nick-name. Our sports teams cannot win a big game and we have a river  that caught on fire. This is not exactly a ringing endorsement. However, there are very bright spots in the Cleveland sports world today. The Browns have drafted one of the most hyped college players in years, in Johnny Manziel. The Indians have recently made the playoffs and are looking like they can continue to compete. The Cavaliers, somehow, have landed the over #1 pick in the NBA draft for the 4th time in 11 years. All it will take is one championship to turn this ship of losing around. I personally would love to see a World Series, but I think the majority of Cleveland fans want to see a Super Bowl. Either way, lets hope a championship happens sooner rather than later.

Written by Rick Giavonette

Follow me on twitter @CST_RickG

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