Cleveland: It’s not me, it’s youWritten by Ryan Fowler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The big gossip at Hickory Ridge Elementary School was always, “Who was going out with whom?”
My mom would then ask me, “Where are they going? They are 12 years old.”
My first “dating” experience came in sixth grade. Her name was Beth. Now, whereas most of the other boys had started “dating” in fourth or fifth grades, my charming personality outweighed my good looks back then. So finding the right girl was a challenge.
Nevertheless, like most elementary love stories, Beth and I “dated” on and off three times in less than a month.
She loved me. She loved me not. She loved me. She loved me not.
Then one spring afternoon, I picked up the phone and on the other end was Beth. She was having second thoughts and wanted to get back together for a fourth time.
I still remember vividly saying “No, you broke my heart three other times and I’m not going to let you do it again.”
I slammed the phone.
Some 16 years later, I’m thinking about breaking up with one of my other first loves: the Cleveland sports scene.
Now, I may be too chicken to actually slam the phone, but I’m on the verge.
During the past 16 years, Cleveland franchises have given me reason to question my loyalty.
It started back in 1995, as a freshman in high school, when the Cleveland Indians made their first trip back to the World Series in decades.
A team loaded with offense, was shut down by Tom Glavine in Game 6 and future Indian David Justice provided the game’s only run. The “Tomahawk Chop” still haunts me to this day.
Then, there was 1997. The Indians had returned to the World Series after a one year hiatus.
Once again, the Tribe was oozing with offensive talent and their pitching staff was as solid as it had been in quite some time.
However, it would be the team’s hurlers that would once again let down the city by the lake.
Clinging to a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning, Jaret Wright let Bobby Bonilla go deep to the seats in right. Later closer Jose Mesa allowed the tying run to score in the bottom of the ninth.
Two innings later, the worst moment of my sports life happened.
In the bottom of the 11th inning, Edgar Renteria lined a single over the head and off the glove of Charles Nagy and into centerfield. Craig Counsell scored with his arms raised to the sky. Heartbreak and tears for this young Cleveland fan.
Then, there was the 2007 American League Championship Series where the Indians ace pitching staff, well, forgot how to pitch in clutch games.
Cleveland blew a 3-game-to-1 lead over the Red Sox, allowing Boston to advance to the World Series against Colorado. A series which many think the Indians could have easily won.
As for the Browns version 2.0, well I will leave that for another time. I guess the year 1964 can sum up my feelings toward that franchise right now.
That brings me to the 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s never too late to vent frustration.
The Cavs effort in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals was nothing short of amazing. It was their team’s ability that was brought into question.
Cleveland has arguably the best basketball player on the planet in LeBron James, and Mo’ Williams is a nice sidekick. However, the Magic have many, many pieces to the puzzle. Pieces that don’t miss from behind the arc or so it would seem.
The Cavs are close, just like the Browns in the late 80s, and the Indians in the late 90s. What the Eastern Conference Finals did was exploit the Cavs’ weaknesses.
This was supposed to be the year where Cleveland held a trophy high for the first time in a long time, but instead fans are left feeling empty inside. Numb to the feeling of underachieving has become commonplace.
I know all about weakness, I went back to Beth three times before I learned my lesson. With the Cleveland sports scene I’ve come back time after time only to have my heart ripped out come crunch time.
My relationship with Cleveland is rocky at best right now. Here is where I need my mom to ask me and the Indians, Cavs and Browns “Where are you going?” Because the way I see it, Cleveland, it’s not me, it is you.
Ryan Fowler is the weekend sports anchor at NBC24 and can be reached at email@example.com.