Being a Cleveland sports fan isn’t exactly easy, not after forty nine years and counting since our beloved Browns brought home the city’s last championship trophy. Like most of you, I’m tired of losing seasons, changing regimes (remember when regime change meant a coup in some third world country?), new front office staff, revolving coaches, philosophies and players.
For the first time in recent memory, there’s actually a sports buzz in town. It’s July 23 and the Tribe is in contention at five games over .500 and sitting just two and a half games behind the Tigers. The Browns’ rookie camp is in session with the veterans due to join later this week and the Cavs are putting together an impressive offseason, though the gains thus far are purely theoretical and will remain so until they prove out on the court. I can’t wait!
What excites you the most – the Tribe’s second half, the Brown’s first season under Chud (much easier to remember and spell than Chudzinski), or the Cavs upcoming 2013-2014 campaign? If you’re not from here, have any of our teams captured your eye?
The Cavs are the apple of my eye. The Tribe … well, I just can’t get worked up over them, not after their collapse the past two summers. Until they put together a team that shows it can perform for an entire 162 game schedule, I’m going to curb my enthusiasm.
The truth is, MLB just doesn’t do it for me like the NFL and the NBA. It used to, when I was a kid, but nowadays it moves too slowly to hold my attention. I watch lots and lots of basketball, from opening day until the last day of the finals. By then, its late June and I’ve missed the first three months of the baseball season. The NFL commands my attention for the draft in April (if we start winning and have lower picks, the draft will hold less attraction … please, please!) and then again beginning in July with training camp. I know I’m not alone in paying too much attention to meaningless summer football. This is a Browns town, first and foremost.
So, bottom line … the Tribe and isn’t much more than a sports placeholder for the down time between basketball and football.
Choosing between those the Browns and the Cavs is difficult. Having been a lifetime football fan and season ticket holder for forever (when the team returned in 99, my PSL came at a 50% discount, a price reserved for the longest standing season ticket holders), it pains me to admit that I’m looking forward to the Cavs over the Browns.
I do think this season’s version of the Browns will be the best since the team made the playoffs in 2007. I wasn’t wild about picking Brandon Weeden, but Pat Shurmur did him no favors by running an offense that forced him to take too many snaps under center. He’ll do much better in the shotgun and under coaches who know how to build an offense. My fingers are crossed that Trent Richardson stays healthy. If he does, I’m expecting a breakout year. I like the free agent signing of Paul Kruger, the attacking defense Horton expects to field, and picking Barkevious Mingo in the draft, as much for his name as his talent. How can you not like a player with such an awesome name? Our receivers will be better with another year under their belt and a solid line protecting an improved Weeden. Unless Greg Little rejects the hand transplant received midway through last season or Josh Gordon has another relapse in common sense, we’ll field the best group of receivers Cleveland has seen in years.
All in all, given good health, the Browns should be improved over last year. I’m hoping for 7 wins (division wins won’t come easy even though the Steelers aren’t what they used to be) and avoiding mathematical playoff elimination until Christmas.
The Cavs though, are what I’m most excited about and that was true even before we signed Andrew Bynum. We have young players that are developing well. Kyrie is an All-Star, on and off the court. Inventing Uncle Drew was sheer genius (and way better than those silly Chris/Cliff Paul State Farm commercials) and transformed him a true NBA celebrity. Tristan came alive in the second half of last season, after Anderson Varejao injured his knee. Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller had good rookie years and I’m excited to see what Anthony Bennett has to offer. On top of our developing young players, Chris Grant signed great additions to the team in Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark. They fill holes and, in the case of Jack, will allow Kyrie to play off the ball which will open up his game.
Signing Bynum is the icing on the cake. Some icing is sweet and buttery, the perfect topping for a desert. Other toppings look good but are little more than whipped cream, light and airy, without much taste. I’m not sure which Bynun will be, but the rest of the cake should be super. Not only do I expect the Cavs to make the playoffs, I’m hoping for home court advantage. Miami, Indiana and Brooklyn will be tough to pass, but the Knicks … if everyone stays healthy, we could take them. BTW, none of this is predicated on jockeying for Lebron position in the summer of 2014. I’d love to sign him, but until the 13-14 season ends, it’s not something I’ll waste any time thinking about.
I think Cleveland’s sports future is looking bright, brighter than it has in years. Of course, like all Clevelanders, I’m the eternal optimist when it comes to our teams. Which are you looking forward to most?