Saturday, February 12, 2011

Nod To Cleveland

On sports radio last week, a Cleveland fan was asked if the record-breaking losing streak, on top of Lebron going to Miami, were the worst moments in that city's sports history. "Not even close," came the reply, but I was getting out of the car after only hearing one other event on his list. I'll come back to Cleveland later.

I, of course, started compiling my worst moments in Boston sports history, which I automatically assumed would far outdistance anything any other city had to offer.

I went to Bing this week for other people's lists of Boston's worst to see if I had forgotten something important, and interestingly, a listing for Cleveland's worst came up in the first 10 hits, indicating that this was a site that had a lot of hits, and Boston was mentioned in it somewhere. I kept seeing Cleveland's worst moments in hits 11-20, 21-30 and on, so I figured I would go back and check after I had done my Boston research.

In a fit of objectivity, I supposed that every city must have its Worst Moments and zipped various cities in to the search engine, expecting to semi-acknowledge, however reluctantly, that every city's fans think they have gotten the shortest end of the stick.

This is not so.

Philadelphia's worst moments include many entries of terrible things its fans have done, not its teams. True, but not the same thing.

New York doesn't have general lists, but lists for its various teams: worst Mets moments, worst Jets moments, etc. Because New York has teams in the the same league within its rooting region, it does not think of worst moments shared by the whole area. The Jets and Mets do indeed have terrible moments, but it isn't a shared NY experience, where everyone you meet the next day is shaking their head and looking bewildered. Not the same thing.

Chicago and Los Angeles have similar situations of divided local loyalty, but even granting that, their lists don't have that zing. Michael Jordan retires. Well, players do, and sometimes prematurely if they have gambling problems. The Bulls breaking up after six championships. Yeah, that'll stir a lot of hearts in the rest of America. Walter Payton tragically ill after he retires. I loved Walter Payton, but that's a bad life moment, not a bad sports moment. And Los Angeles barely has any listings under any category - they follow the stereotype. They don't care out there, they leave in the seventh inning.

San Francisco, same thing. They just don't identify out there.

Detroit has a list of years that their team was really better, but lost in the playoffs. That's a pathetic definition of worst moments. That's just real life for a sports fan. Happens all the time.

Washington has had many bad teams. No defining heartbreaking worst moments. Dallas, Pittsburgh, St Louis? Please.

But Cleveland now, Cleveland is in our league in this category. They have been on the short end of too many The's.

The Drive, by John Elway - against Cleveland
The Shot, by Michael Jordan - against Cleveland
The Catch, by Willie Mays - against Cleveland

That's all three major sports, BTW.

Add in Art Modell moving the Browns, the worst-ever Cleveland Spiders of 1899, ten-cent beer night, your all-time best team playing half its seasons trying to break in to the top league (the Jim Brown/Otto Graham Cleveland Browns), the usual city list of championships thrown away (by Brian Sipe, by Jose Mesa, by Ernest Byner), one of the worst owners in sports history (Ted Stepien) - and Lebron puts Cleveland over the top into Boston's category. I think Boston still gets the nod for worst moments, but we have also had good teams and some very fine moments interspersed. Cleveland, not so much. You are the only poor bastards I will acknowledge into this conversation. Tip of the hat.

For the record, my Boston list starts with Len Bias.

1 comment:

Wyman said...

Since it's now such a wonderful thing to be a Boston sports fan: consistent competitiveness, growing nationwide support for Sox/Celtics, end of championship droughts in all three major sports, etc., it no longer seems fair to include us as a tortured city. We've been there, certainly. But our time for complaining is at an end.

My personal Boston list would start with Bias, then '86 Sox (Buckner), Reggie Lewis, '03 Sox (Grady Little), '78 Sox (Bucky Dent), '08 Superbowl (Helmet Catch). I guess after that, maybe '87 NBA Finals (Baby hook) and last year's NBA Finals?

Cleveland should absolutely have the crown - anytime you can refer to something by "The _____", that's a deadly game to remember. Bill Simmons had an article called "Levels Of Losing", where he ranked the most painful ways to lose sports games.

You're missing Seattle from this list: long-suffering, die-hard fanbase, a few terrible losses: '06 Superbowl (the officials for this game have their own Wikipedia entry) and the Sonics becoming the first #1-seed to be upset in the first round. And of course, Clay Bennett buying the Sonics and moving them to his hometown of Oklahoma City despite Seattle's pleas to keep the team.