One of my first sports memories is watching Game 6 of the 1995 World Series at a neighbor’s house. Indians versus the Atlanta Braves. David Justice’s HR. It was our first series in 41 years. All that disappointment and hope lost.
The worst part about the whole thing was that I don’t even remember the run up to the World Series, just the disappointment. The only things I remember about that season were: my mom barehanding a line drive foul ball that would have hit her in the face, and almost hit me and my cousin in the face; my brothers favorite player was Bo Jackson (which I always thought was weird); and that Kenny Lofton was my favorite player (still is!). But no excitement, no thrill of victory.
Nine days after Game 6, Art Modell announced that the Browns were leaving Cleveland and heading to Baltimore. Talk about torturing a city. But that’s not all, here’s the highlights: The Catch, Curse of Rocky Colavito, Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot (Three years in a row! Hat Trick!), David Justice ’95, Browns to Baltimore, Jose Mesa ’97, The Decision.
Don’t get me wrong, there has been excitement and happiness in Cleveland. If there wasn’t there would be no such thing as a ‘Cleveland Sports Fan’. That’s the thing about Cleveland sports: we always have one good team. The Browns in the 80s, Indians in the 90s, Cavs in the 00s, and interspersed good years along the way.
“The bad feels so bad makes the good so good”* as it were. The great moments are what keep us in. In recent memory there’s the 2007 Indians being up 3-1 against the Red Sox in the ALCS (we lost by the way) and Knat Game vs the Yankees, Lebron (Overtime – Game 5 2007 ECF, 45 – Game 7 2009 ECSM, the new “Shot” – Game 2 2010 ECSF), Colt McCoy’s 2 minute drill vs the Jets (we lost here too), Peyton Hillis. 2011 Cleveland Indians. 2011 NFL Draft day trade. Even as something as small as the Madden 12 cover feels so good to me.
I feel like many would scoff at this. “It’s kind of sad that you care so much about a Madden cover” was something I heard a lot during spring. I don’t think it’s sad, it’s something that resonates with Cleveland sports fans. There is a reason that we are “Believeland” (besides the fact that it fits). We have faith in our teams. We are loyal. And when we have an opportunity to show our support we go at it.
And that’s what makes those moments always special, there’s always something magic about them. Getting the 1st pick in 2003, the 2011 Indians, the Kardiac Kids, all those last minute, last second, just barely didn’t make it plays, make the times when it does happen magic.
*Local Natives – “World News” on Gorilla Manor.