When someone asks me where I am from, I will proudly proclaim that I am from Cleveland, Ohio. Home of the Browns, Indians, Cavaliers, Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, Pro Football Hall Of Fame just around the corner in Canton, Playhouse Square, Public Square.. you name it!
The response to my answer is always “Oh, I’m sorry”, or “Gee, that must stink!”. To the outsider, it does seem like a miserable place to be for an avid sports fan like myself. We’ve had our chances. And we’ve had those years that everyone thought that maybe… it was the year. But to our chagrin, it hasn’t. In fact, it hasn’t been our year since 1964 when the Browns won the World Championship..not even the Super Bowl. The Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948 and the Cavaliers? Well… they haven’t won a NBA Finals..ever.
You will never find a Cleveland fan that has a “woe is me” attitude. How many times have you seen fans like in Miami who have given up on their team before the buzzer went off? Cleveland can’t give up- it’s not in a Clevelanders DNA. We accept the fact that the beautiful city is simply cursed. The “Mistake On The Lake” will never be a mistake to people who consider it home, but let’s face it, what city can have a river that caught fire? How many times have we gotten so close, and had hearts broken? To be a Cleveland fan, you have to be mentally tough.. The Cleveland Curse is real believe it or not. These are the facts, this is what Cleveland is.
1954 World Series – The Catch
Could it be the single greatest catch ever made? It was September 29, 1954- game one of the World Series, Indians vs the New York Giants, in the bottom of the eighth inning with the score tied 2-2. The Tribe had runners on first and second bringing Vic Wertz to the plate. After working the count to two balls and one strike, Wertz CRUSHED the ball 450 feet straight into center field. Looked like it was going to drop at the warning track, but Willie Mays made the over the shoulder catch that prevented any runs from scoring. This set the tone for the rest of the series, and the Giants went on to sweep the Tribe.
The 1960 Trade
1959 is a year that will live in infamy for many Cleveland fans. The Indians seemed to be World Series bound, with the fan favorite Rocky Colavito at Right Field. Out of left field (pun intended) Cleveland manager Frank Lane made a trade that sent Rock Colavtio to Detroit for Harvey Kuenn. The after trade results were not good. It took until 1995 until the Indians had a winning season again. The Tigers on the other hand? They went on to win in 1968, and 1984. Both without Colavito. Neither team gained anything from the seemingly blockbuster trade, and Colavito was never the same.
1981 AFC Playoff Game – Red Right 88
Cleveland Browns Red Right 88
It’s just the beginning of the misery for Browns fans. 1981 was when the “Kardiac Kids” were popular, but started their season off 3-3, but suddenly hit a hot steak and finished the season with an 11-5 record. Brian Sipe had won the MVP for the 1980-1981 season and had been used to leading the Browns to miraculous victories. But the 1981 playoffs Sipe wasn’t able to pull of a miracle against the Al Davis Oakland Raiders. “Red Right 88″ was the call. This play was meant to be a pass to the endzone. Instead, in true Cleveland fashion, Sipe threw an interception and lost the game 14-12.
1987 AFC Championship Game: “The Drive”
These two words, are the bane of many Clevelanders existence, and doesn’t need much explanation. Elway was working his magic- something that Cleveland teams lack. The Browns were leading 20-13 and Elway got the ball back with 5:32 remaining in the game on their own two yard line. This 98 yard drive led little time remaining and sent the game into overtime. The Broncos ended up winning by a field goal. The funny thing was that when the drive first started—on their two-yard line—Broncos offensive guard Keith Bishop supposedly said of the Browns, “We got em right where we want em.”
1988 AFC Championship Game: “The Fumble”
A rematch of 1987 AFC Championship, almost exactly a year after “The Drive” the Browns still didn’t have what it took to win the game. The Broncos were up 21-3 at the half, and thought they had the game in the bag. But Boardman, Ohio’s pride and joy Bernie Kosar had something else on his mind. Kosar would go on to dominate the second half and would score 4 touchdowns. With just a minute left in the game, Bernie handed the ball off to Ernest Byner. Byner would be tackled by Denver Defensive Back Jeremiah Castille, and fumbled the ball. What was this result? The Broncos would go on to the Super Bowl and the Browns and their fans would be left yet again, stunned and heartbroken.
1989 NBA Playoffs: “The Shot”
Another memory that Cleveland fans get forget. Michael Jordan hit a jumper with 6 seconds left to give the Bulls a 99-98 lead, their first of the game. Following a Cleveland Cavalier timeout, Craig Eloh inbounded the ball, got the pass in return, and scroed a driving layup with 3.2 seconds left in the game. Then the inbound pass came to Michael Jordan at the free throw line. And everyone knows what happens next. MJ shot the ball, over the hero-then-goat Craig Eloh, and sunk it. This sent the whole city of Cleveland hom in a state of depression.
The 1995 World Series
The 1995 Cleveland Indians had a lineup for the ages. One of the most dominant lineups in the history of the league. After years and years of the “rebuilding process” after the Colavito trade, the Tribe finally made it to the World Series and won over 100 regular season games to get there. The series made it to six games, but the Braves took home the hardware.
November 1995: The Move
When you think of the Cleveland Curse, this has got to be the first thing you think of. Cleveland was booming! The Indians would have a new stadium in Jacobs Field, and the Cavs would have a new arena in Gund Arena and the fans were as loyal as ever.
But Art Modell, owner of the Browns since 1961 decided that the Cleveland Stadium wasn’t suitable and needed to be renovated. But instead of renovating the stadium, or pushing for a new one to be built with the tax approval, Modell signed a deal with Baltimore to return an NFL team to the city. What would happen to the Browns?
Fans tried their hardest to keep the football team in Cleveland, because everyone and their mother knows that Cleveland is first and foremost a football town. But no avail. Modell would move the Browns to Baltimore, and they would become the Baltimore Ravens. This left Cleveland without a football team for three seasons until 1999 when the city agreed to house the new NFL expansion team. in 2000, one year after the Browns return, the Ravens would win the Super Bowl.
This past year Art Modell passed away. The Modell family requested that there not be a moment of silence held at the Cleveland game although there was a moment of silence at every other NFL game that day. Modell was also denied the Hall Of Fame last year. Not to say that he won’t eventually make it to Canton.
1997 World Series: Does the name Jose Mesa ring a bell?
It was Game 7 and the Indians were winning 2-0 in the 7th innnig. But in the 9th, Jose Mesa comes in to close the game for the Tribe. Instead of closing the game out, he blew the save and the game went into extra innings. The Marlins clearly had the momentum. The Marlins would score the winning run in the 11th inning and sealed up the World Series. After 1997, The Cleveland Indians haven’t made it past the ALCS in 2007 where they collapsed against the Red Sox.
2002: NFL Wild Card Playoff Game
Leave it to the Browns to finally make it to the playoffs after all the craziness they’d been through…and face the Steelers. But, it wasn’t as bad as people predicted! The Browns were up 24-7 at one point! But with 3 minutes left the Browns who were up 33-21 began to collapse. The Steelers cut the score to 33-28 with a 77 yard drive. The Browns, made a very…Cleveland-esque mistake. After failing to run the clock out, the Steelers scored again…and won the game.
This one still stings a bit so I’ll make it short and sweet. The young Tribe are leading the Boston Red Sox 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. Winner goes to the World Series. I can’t say I was shocked, but the Indians fell apart and lost three straight. The Red Sox went on to win the World Series led by none other than the Indians current manager Terry Francona.
2010: The Decision
Who could forget this? The day that single handedly hurt worse than any other loss. The pure betrayal was done on such a high level, that Cleveland will never get over this.
Between 2003-2010 Lebron James literally put the team on his back and put the Cavs on the nationwide map. Most people thought the time had finally came, for a Cleveland team to win a championship. But everyone and their mothers were wrong. After a complete season of Lebron not playing to his highest potential, and seemingly giving up on his team, Lebron would go on ESPN during primetime and announce his decision to take his talents to South Beach. The “We Are All Witnesses” banner on the pannel on Tower City in Downtown, Cleveland was torn down immediately in fear of arson. People rioted in the streets, jerseys were burned, and tears were shed. The one player who could have broken the curse for us, just embarrassed our city on national television. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert would write a letter to the fans claiming Lebron to be ignorant and that the Cavs would win a championship before the self proclaimed King. Well, we all know how well that turned out. Since then, the Cavs have been seemingly playing for the lottery, and have won it twice.
They tell Cleveland to wait for next year, but really? Is there ever a next year? Does Chicago really have it that bad? Yes you’ve had to deal with the Cubs, but you had your run with the Bulls, a fairly decent, playoff Bears team and of course, your Blackhawks. Do you guys have room to complain? Oh and Boston? Your curse has ended. The Red Sox have won two World Series’, the Celtics are always in the playoffs, and the Bruins made it to the Stanley Cup Finals this year and have won it 6 times, and don’t forget your Patriots…
Without a doubt, the Cleveland Curse is the worst curse in sports today. Whether Clevelanders are in denial, or just easily angered by the sports teams of Cleveland, there is always one glimmer of hope…. There’s Always Next Year!