2018: Can Cleveland once again be the 'City of Champions'?

A number of years ago – okay, a really, really big number of years ago – when we thought a microwave was only a modest ripple in Lake Erie, Cleveland was known throughout the sports world as the “City of Champions.” No, not Cleveland, Tennessee, smarty pants, Cleveland, Ohio. If you’re too young to know what an “I like Ike” button meant, you probably think I’m making this up. But I’m not. I deal in facts, baby.

Back in the 1940s and '50s, Cleveland was the envy of the rest of the nation because all of Cleveland sports teams won pretty much all the time. The Browns, for example, won championships with more regularity than MiraLax.

The Indians, although they didn’t have many championships to show for it because of the domination of the mighty New York Yankees, were the only team to consistently give the Yanks a run for their money year after year. Check this out: from 1947 through 1958, the only team NOT named the Yankees to represent the AL in the World Series was our beloved Wahoos. Not too shabby, eh?

Although the Cavaliers didn’t join the NBA until 1970, we did have the AHL’s Cleveland Barons, who dominated for a generation. And don’t dismiss the Barons because they belonged to the “minor league” AHL, either. Remember that the NHL consisted of a mere 6 teams, and the quality of play in the AHL was very close to that of the NHL. Nothing minor about the Barons.

Yes, life was good in the City of Champions. Who’d a thunk that it would all go to heck in a handbasket so fast and – worse yet – for so long? The Indians stunk up baseball for most of the '60s, '70s, '80s, and into the '90s before the Dick Jacobs era revived baseball in Cleveland.

The Browns had some flashes of entertaining football in the '70s and '80s, but the last time they won a playoff game was in 1994. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s about a quarter of a century, no? And the last time they appeared in a playoff game was 2002. And of course, the Browns teams of recent years have given fans new appreciation for watching grass grow as their Sunday entertainment.

The Cavs? They had the Miracle of Richfield in the late '70s, and some very good teams in the late '80s, but hit a pretty long dry spell after that. The only “miracle” involving the Cavs for a while was that they didn’t move to another city.

Is it time for Cleveland to reclaim their “Champions” title? We had a tease in 2007 when the Indians went to the AL Championship Series, the Cavs went to the NBA finals. And the Browns – gulp – won 10 (count ‘em, ten) games! Unfortunately, the following year the Indians stunk, the Browns remembered who they were and became the Browns again, and the Cavs didn’t play in a championship series again until 2014-2015.

So maybe the chances don’t appear to be all that great. But we can dream ... right?

After all, Ike would have wanted it that way.

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 9:46 AM, 04.17.2018