20 Reasons Why You Know You’re a Sports Fan From Cleveland
Reasons Why You Know You're a Cleveland Sports Fan
Are the teams you root for made fun of on a mind-numbingly consistent basis? Do you have immeasurable passion for sports franchises that have yet to merit that love? Does the concept of winning allude you?
If you answered yes to, let’s face it, all of those questions, congratulations, you’re most likely a sports fan from Cleveland. Sad as it may seem to some, the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers all mean the world to you, and man does that really stink. How could you possibly stick with incompetence? Your early season dreams of a possible championship are most likely dashed minutes, if not seconds into the first game of the year.
But, you’re a diehard. And diehards don’t quit. Your teams might, but you won’t. Because you are a true Cleveland fan. You may get way too excited about the idea of just going .500, but you’ve seen enough heartbreak to know that kind of season is a successful one. And try as they may to lose you as a fan, you stay true to your Cleveland teams. Most likely, it’s due to the impending fear that, after you finally give up and root for someone else, Cleveland wins a title. At least that’s my justification.
Anyways, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the last championship won in the city of Cleveland – yes, it’s been that long – I encourage you to crack open a bottle of Great Lakes, grab some Stadium Mustard, crank up “Bernie, Bernie” and take a look at 20 reasons you know you’re a Cleveland fan.
You Hate This Man
Okay, well let’s go ahead and get this one out of the way as quickly as possible, yeah? Just going to rip this Band-Aid right off.
Sure, a lot of people don’t like LeBron James, but only Clevelanders hate him with a passion so strong it would make you rip a phone book in half. You hate him for The Decision. You hate him for quitting in the 2010 NBA playoffs before The Decision. You hate that he waited until he got to Miami before finally becoming a mature adult. You hate that he’s winning championships while the Cavaliers are winning draft lotteries. And you hate, oh how you hate, that people are floating around this idea that he might just come back to Cleveland this offseason.
Why hate that? Because he’s obviously not coming back, but we all know it’ll drag out to the point where everyone may convince themselves it can happen right before he re-ups with the Heat. The odds of James returning this summer are on par with Anthony Bennett having a 40-point game this season.
You Know it's The Jake, and it'll Always Be The Jake
Who in their right mind thought it would be okay to rename Jacobs Field? It was bad enough that the Indians had just lost in the 2007 ALCS, but then they had to go relabeling their stadium to Progressive Field? Because I’m sure all Cleveland fans were dying to associate their baseball team with Flo.
But even though ownership has been trying to pass off “cool” new nicknames for the Tribe’s home field – I’ve heard “The Prog” and “The P,” just stop – you know it will always be The Jake.
You Hate Pittsburgh
Think about it. The Indians and Pirates don’t have any sort of rivalry. Pennsylvania’s only basketball team is in Philadelphia.
But, lord almighty, do you hate Pittsburgh.
Maybe it’s the fact that the Steelers have had three head coaches in the past 50 years while the Browns have had what feels like a billion. Or that the Steelers just keep winning Super Bowls. Or that the rivalry is so one-sided you can’t even get excited for Steelers week any more. Or Ben Roethlisberger and his stupid face. Too much?
Yes, it’s safe to say your passion for Cleveland sports is matched only by your hatred of that city down I-76.
The Word "Rebuild" Makes You Cringe a Little Bit
At one of my former jobs, my boss claimed that our company was in a “rebuilding year.” Most coworkers nodded, but I knew what he really meant. We’re doing something along the lines of hiring a new management crew, building our team through countless drafts, essentially stating we’re going to have a rough season, but still trying to convince ticket-holders to spend their hard-earned money to watch ineptitude.
Admittedly, I may have drifted off in that company meeting, but only because Cleveland fans have heard the words “rebuilding” from at least one of the hometown teams every year. And we all know it means said team is going to be freaking unwatchable this season.
Part of You Kind of Believed Dan Gilbert's Post-Decision Letter
Remember when Cavs owner Dan Gilbert unleashed that infamous Comic Sans letter after LeBron bailed on Cleveland? You know, the one that claimed “I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA Championship before the self-titled former ‘king’ wins one. You can take it to the bank.”
Yeah, that check didn’t cash.
Still, at the time, you sort of thought, “Yeah, that’s right! We don’t need LeBron, we got this! This is the stuff Disney movies are made from.” At least something along those lines. However, turns out a lineup featuring James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is going to be slightly more successful than one that included Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, Samardo Samuels, Jamario Moon and dear lord make it stop.
You Talk About Bernie Kosar the Same Way Patriots Fans Talk About Tom Brady
Bernie Kosar, the last great Cleveland quarterback. Did he win any Super Bowls? Nope. Is he in the NFL Hall of Fame? Doesn’t appear to be. But it doesn’t matter, Kosar was the king of Cleveland in the 80s. With the arm of sniper and the body of an accountant, Kosar was a die-hard Browns fan who manipulated the supplemental draft so he could play football in Cleveland. Find me an athlete willing to do anything remotely close to that now. I’ll wait.
It may sound irrational to outsiders, but Cleveland fans will always hold a special place in their heart for Kosar. He had us on the doorstep of the Super Bowl two years in a row – I still hate you, John Elway – and was also one of the most accurate QBs to ever play the game.
We also love Kosar because, let’s face it, the list of quarterbacks we’ve dealt with since is long and ugly as sin.
You Find August is the Most Optimistic Month As a Browns Fan
“You know, our schedule doesn’t look too rough. We could easily go 8-8, possibly 9-7.”
“Did you see? Brandon Weeden just shredded the third-string walk-ons for the St. Louis Rams for 300 yards!”
“Watching these guys play, I’ve got a really good feeling about coach Pat Shurmur.”
Well, it must be August, the most optimistic time for all Browns fans. Here, in the last month before the actual season, is where you watch your team perform admirably well during four scrimmages and get punch-drunk on the possibility of this being “the year.” The year when the Browns finally get their act together, when they take the league by storm, shedding the punch-line label that’s been hung on them for decades.
Typically, this feeling dies about an hour after the coin toss in Week 1. But hey, August sure is a bright time of year for you.
You'll Be a Little Upset if They Take Chief Wahoo Away
Let’s face it; the Cleveland Indians logo is a pinch racist. Those who are politically correct do tend to frown upon Chief Wahoo.
At the same time, you grew up with that logo. Chief Wahoo is a symbol for summer approaching, and the Tribe taking the field on opening day. He keeps smiling while the team flops its way through the late months of the season. Chief was still beaming when we traded away two Cy Young winning pitchers in back-to-back seasons. If anything, he’s the Cleveland fan we want to be; emotionally numb enough to smile while watching really, really bad displays of athleticism.
Alas, the rumors continue to swirl that the Tribe will soon be phasing out their longtime logo. On the bright side, at least our team’s name isn’t a slur (looking at you, Dan Snyder).
You Spend Most Januarys Wondering Who the Browns' New Coach Will Be
Coaches come and go in all sports, but nobody does firing like the Cleveland Browns. All it takes is a couple 4-12 or 5-11 seasons – seriously, six wins is not that hard – and you’re gone.
And so, while most people start their new year off focusing on resolutions and such, you’re waiting to see who’ll be roaming the sidelines this time around. Maybe, you think, maybe this new guy will be the one to finally end the losing.
Godspeed, Mike Pettine. If you make it to January 1, 2015, you’re already more successful than Rob Chudzinski.
You Are the Butt of Countless Sports Jokes
“Cleveland, it's the mistake by the lake”
You’re a Cleveland fan when you hear these things at least once a week. And you know what stinks about it? Everyone who says it thinks they’re the first person to ever crack that joke. All of your friends think they were the first one to show you that picture of the Browns QB jersey, with 20 something names written on the back. When that Cleveland fan’s obituary came out last summer, the one where the guy wanted active Browns players to lower his coffin so they could “let him down one last time,” at least 10 different people you know showed it to you.
And yet, there really isn’t anything you can do about it. Until a sports team from Cleveland emerges as a consistent threat for years to come, this is all routine for you. We persevere, assuming karma is just taking its sweet time.
You Can't Stand ESPN
You know who’s not helping matters for Cleveland’s reputation? The four-letter network.
Sure, we all know ESPN has an east-coast bias. But, my goodness, do they take potshots at Cleveland sports like there’s no tomorrow. This is the network that proudly aired The Decision, then cut to the one (ONE!) fan who burned his LeBron jersey and used that to paint the picture of the entire city. Every time one of your teams is doing well, you can bet everything you own that a montage is coming up covering all those heart-breaking moments in Cleveland sports.
ESPN also employs Bill Simmons, who can’t make it through one paragraph involving a sports team from your city without writing “God hates Cleveland.”
Seriously, though, if a Cleveland team ever won a title, ESPN would shut down for the day.
You Hate Bringing Up the Moments, But You Always Bring Up the Moments
Speaking of those awful days in sports history.
You know them by heart, and shudder to think about each one, but the miserable flashes of losing in the most epic way possible are still discussed to this day. You know where you were during The Drive. You remember every curse word you screamed after The Fumble. You remember the sympathy you received after the ’97 World Series.
These stories are told back-and-forth amongst you and your fellow Cleveland fans like tales of war. It’s certainly not because you enjoy reliving these days, but merely because almost all of the painful memories occurred right on the cusp of championships. We were “this” close.
But most importantly, you bring up these harrowing nightmares because part of you, and it may dwindle by the day, still believes that one day a Cleveland team might come through. That maybe, just maybe, all the pain of those mishaps will wash away as one of our city’s clubs actually figures out how to win it all.
But we dream.
You Find You're Still Bitter About the Browns Moving
The aforementioned moments were rough, but most of you know the moving of the Browns to Baltimore cut the deepest. For three years, Autumn Sundays had virtually no purpose whatsoever. The Browns were the city of Cleveland’s lifeblood, and then they were gone.
This moment occurred almost 20 years ago, but you’re most likely still upset. For one thing, the stupid Baltimore Ravens are winning Super Bowls. Their GM is Hall of Fame Browns tight end Ozzie Newsome, and he’s really freaking good at his job. Seeing Art Modell raise a Super Bowl trophy in 2000 made you want to kick puppies.
But most importantly, you’re still upset because of how awful the “new” Browns have been. Yes, we got our team back, but my goodness have they been terrible. Do you have any idea how awful it is accepting the fact that Butch Davis may be considered the most successful coach we’ve had since the Browns came back? This is all your fault, Modell.
You Know the Mid-90s Indians Were the Epitome of Baseball
That said, you know that the mid-to-late 90s weren’t all bad. And no, it wasn’t because the Cavaliers acquired fat Shawn Kemp.
The Indians of the 90s were gods among men. Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Omar Vizquel, Kenny Lofton, even notable psycho Albert Belle, these men made Cleveland a dominant sports city for longer than we’ve known. They helped fuel a sell-out streak that lasted just under six straight years. For half a decade, a baseball playoff game was pretty much assumed. It’s unreal just thinking about that concept.
Sure, they lost the only two World Series they appeared in – thanks a lot, Jose Mesa – but you still remember just how amazing that team was.
You know, before the majority of them bailed in free agency and we officially became the farm club for the Yankees and Red Sox. Good times.
You Have at Least Three Jerseys of Failed Cleveland Athletes
Here is a list of some of the Cleveland jerseys I’ve owned: Brady Quinn, Daniel Gibson, Brian Robiskie, Delonte West, Trent Richardson and Braylon Edwards. All gone. Most of which left without making much of a dent. Others left under conspiracy that we were booing him because he went to Michigan and not because he dropped every pass thrown his way…not really thinking of anyone specifically.
And if you’re a true Cleveland fan, you have your fair share of jerseys that are nothing but a reminder of what wasting $110 looks like. But, the fact is you still have them somewhere, buried in your closet, probably in a box titled “For Shame.”
Then again, you may just recycle them, too. No, of course this isn’t a Colt McCoy jersey. Add some tape and a marker, you’ve got yourself a make-shift Josh Gordon. Is that a jersey for Tim Couch or…Reggie Hodges? You get the idea.
You Have No Idea What a Competent Closer Looks Like
Seriously, it’s just three outs. That’s all you have to do.
Yes, you understand that being a major league closer is no easy job. But this fact is hammered home by just how awful Indians closers have been.
Jose Mesa blew the ’97 World Series. Bob Wickman liked loading the bases with no outs before going to work. Chris Perez, well he’s terrible and mailed weed to his dog. And we all know how much fun it was watching Manny Ramirez launch one of Joe Borowski’s blazing 86 mph fastballs into Lake Erie.
One day, you won’t have to grab the Pepto every time the game goes into the ninth and Cleveland has a lead. One day, you’ll just sit back, knowing full well that this closer is going to shut the door with ease.
Best of luck, John Axford. We already don’t think you can get the job done.
You Think Major League is the Best Movie Ever
We did have one great closer, am I right? There was a day when players like Willie Mays Hayes, Jake Taylor and “Wild Thing” Rick Vaughn were the best Indians out there.
Sure, most of the world sees Major League as a solid comedy, but you love it. The Cleveland team wins in the end. What more can you ask? Hearing Harry Doyle yell “Oh my God, the Indians win it!” still sends chills down your spine.
You also love it because, even though the team’s win was fictional, so was the concept of moving a team out of Cleveland.
You Know There's More Than One Way to Blow a Game
It’s not exactly a point of pride, but you know all there is to know about blowing a game.
Fumble at the goal line? Seen it. Game-ending grand slam? At least once a month. Throwing your helmet off while the ball is still live? Please. Leading the Steelers in the playoffs only to get torched by Tommy Maddox? Yeah, that happened.
Yes, indeed, a Cleveland team will always find an unreal way to lose a game. But that’s not what bothers you. No, what bothers you is your complete lack of surprise when it happens.
If the Browns Ever Win the Super Bowl, Your Life Will Be Complete
Ah, just take a second to envision it. Not that you haven’t lately. I’m good for one dream parade down Euclid a day.
Still, imagine what that scene would be like. Yes, the Browns, they who know only losing, have won the biggest game in football. Your friends can’t laugh at you anymore. ESPN has to show nearly 24 hour coverage of this day for the next week and a half. Downtown Cleveland will be overjoyed anarchy, and most likely on fire.
You mostly dream about that scenario due to the fact that the current Browns are miles away from playoff contention. But still, that’s the top of the mountain, and your life just isn’t 100 percent until that happens.
You Hate That You Love These Teams
Yes, it’s fun to take in the self-deprecating humor that comes with being a Cleveland fan. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be any sort of joy in this at all. You’ve said, at least once a year, “I’m done with this team.” The sun rises, the earth rotates and a Cleveland fan claims they’ve seen enough.
But you come back. You always do. Because of the one phrase that’s uttered at some point or another about the Browns, the Indians and the Cavs. “There’s always next year.” Sure, sometimes it’s said in jest, one last joke as you make your way out of this life as a Cleveland fan.
But you also say it with a pinch of hope. This last season was miserable, bad enough to make you question your fan hood. And yet, you’re still tuning in on opening day at The Jake. You still flip on your TV in time to hear Fred McLeod and Austin Carr call a three-pointer from “deep in the Q.” And you’re covered in brown and orange for Week 1 of the NFL season.
You hate being a Cleveland fan, but truly believe that one day you will indeed love it.