A Brief History of Cleveland Sports

You already know all of this.

In our first episode, we visit Cleveland, Ohio, and co-host Scott Hines gets to talk about what it’s been like growing up with that motley collection of wholly disappointing franchises. Some highlights!

The Cleveland Browns were one of the most successful teams in the All-American Football Conference, and later the NFL, right up until the mid-1960s! After that? Uhhh… listen, old people love this team. I found a 1980s-era Browns jacket at a vintage store in Athens, Georgia this winter, and I bought it. The first time I wore it out in public — a simple trip to Kroger — two separate elderly couples stopped me to talk about how much they loved the Browns growing up. And I live in Louisville, Kentucky! If you grew up without color TV, you’ve got fond memories of this team.

The Indians won the World Series in 1948. They made it again in 1954, with the American League’s then-record for wins… and were swept by Willie Mays and the New York Giants. They did nothing for the next 41 years. Well, not entirely nothing — in 1987, they made the cover of Sports Illustrated’s preseason preview issue, which declared them the “best team in the American League!” They went 61-101 that year, the worst record in baseball. They finally made the playoffs again in 1995, making it all the way to the World Series before losing in six games. They made it again in 1997, carrying a 2-1 lead into the 9th inning of Game 7, before losing in extra innings. They blew a 3-1 lead in the 2016 World Series to a team that hadn’t won in 108 years. They’ve got one of the most likable, exciting young players in baseball right now in Francisco Lindor, and the owner reminded fans to “enjoy him while you can”.

Then there’s the Cavs. Meaningless for most of their history. In their early years, owner Ted Stepien traded away draft picks so freely and foolishly the NBA changed the rules to stop other teams from doing it. They had some brief spots of glory in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s behind Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Craig Ehlo, Larry Nance and John “Hot Rod” Williams… and had the honor of losing nearly every year to Michael Jordan.

Then, in 2003, a kid from nearby Akron, Ohio arrived, and it seemed like destiny. He turned the Cavs into an instant contender, rocketing all the way to the Finals in 2007 with a supporting cast that looked like they’d come from a temp agency. Surely he’d push us all the way… and then he didn’t. And then he left. And then he won two titles with someone else.

We all know what happened in 2016. Cleveland’s hero returned, he delivered the town a title in one of the most thrilling comebacks in sports history, an utter classic series and final game. The curse was broken. We were free.

Or was it just enough to get us on the hook for another 52 years?

— Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)