The butt of an endless number of jokes, the city of Cleveland is desperate to watch a winning sports team. Having not celebrated a championship since the Browns’ NFL title in 1964, seeing any team find success gives fans a reason for hope.
The thing is, that just doesn’t happen very often to one team, let alone two at the same time.
But as of right now, the city is enjoying the success of both the Indians and Browns. The Indians, winners of ten straight games to close the regular season, secured the top AL Wild Card spot on Sunday and will host either the Tampa Bay Rays or Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on Wednesday.
The Browns, 0-2 to start the year and throwing themselves into turmoil by trading running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts, have seemingly risen from the dead to become 2-2 following a 17-6 defeat of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Suddenly, the Browns are a competitive, fun team to watch under the leadership of homegrown quarterback Brian Hoyer. The playoffs seem like a pipe dream, but the NFL season has reached its quarter mark and the Browns are tied for first place in the AFC North.
As for the Indians, is there a more surprising team in baseball? This team has survived the implosions of both Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez. It has relied on 42-year-old Jason Giambi to provide clutch hits – and he has delivered. The Indians have gotten ace-like pitching from Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, two beleaguered pitchers with very low expectations entering the season.
The improbable, and nearly impossible, list goes on, and through it all, the Indians finished with 92 wins, one season after recording just 68 victories. Much of the success can be traced back to manager Terry Francona, but so much has inexplicably happened that it’s easier to chalk it all up to a higher power at work.
The Indians may not win the World Series and the Browns may still end up with a top-10 pick in next May’s draft, but the excitement is permeating throughout Cleveland. The city’s sports teams are fun to watch and on the rise, which always brings a certain level of electricity to the downtown area.
A championship is the ultimate goal, but fans will simply take a consistent winner for right now, something they’ll reward with a level of support few, if any, other cities can match.
Cleveland is a ticking time bomb of fandom, ready to explode at the right moment.
That moment could be sooner than you think.