Top 5 Things Cleveland Sports Fans Should be Thankful For
It's that time of the year when we all sit around a huge table and eat till we have to unloosen our pants and find ourselves taking an afternoon nap before we head out with the intensity of a UFC Fighter to try and land a TV or computer that is being sold for 60-70 percent off it's normal price at Walmart or Best Buy.
Yes, it's Thanksgiving - the holiday that officially kicks off the 'holiday season' that ends with hoisting a glass celebrating a New Year dancing the night away.
It's a joyous time of the year, and sports is all around, with college bowl games, the NBA, MLB Winter Meetings and free agency, and teams (well, not the Browns) getting set for the postseason.
Today we put the focus on our hometown of Cleveland, as we kickoff the holidays with our list of the 'Top 5 Things Cleveland Sports Fans Should be Thankful For.'
Feel free to comment with your suggestions!
5. Terry Francona
Remember when the rumors started late in the 2012 season that former Red Sox manager Terry Francona was going to return to the dugout and two teams - Cleveland and Detroit were showing interest in bringing him in? We all thought there was no waychoosing that Francona would pick Cleveland, as it made sense that he would go to an established Tigers team that was a World Series contender.
Well, less than four years later the Indians with Francona have made two playoff appearances, made it to game seven of the World Series, and Francona himself has been AL Manager of the Year twice. It was a godsend that Francona chose to come to the place where his dad once played, and he's completely turned the culture of the Indians around.
Looking ahead to 2017 there's no doubt the Indians again are going to be a favorite in the American League, as they are still solid in starting pitching, and while there's work to do in terms of the offense if they lose Mike Napoli, expect the Indians to not stand pat in adding a bat.
Having Francona here in Cleveland has made them a contender every season since his arrival, and we should all be thankful for his choosing of coming to our city to run our baseball franchise.
4. The Monsters Agreement with the Columbus Blue Jackets
While the Cleveland Monsters were a minor league organization with the Colorado Avalanche, the playoffs were an afterthought as usually they were near the bottom of their division, finishing third twice and fourth twice in their respective division the last four seasons.
Then before last season it all changed, as the Monsters aligned themselves with the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team just two hours away. Call-ups and send downs were smoother, and things with Columbus went so much better than shuffling players back and forth to Colorado.
It paid off even more in a huge way, as the Monsters clinched a playoff spot as the number two team in the Central Division, and then they went on a magical run, going 11-2 in the first three playoff rounds and then dominating the Hershey Bears 4-0 to win the Calder Cup on their home ice at Quicken Loans Arena.
This season after losing coach Jared Bednar, the team has struggled out of the gate, but winning a title and having a good team above like the Blue Jackets is something to be thankful for.
3. The Browns Only Play Once a Week
If you are still paying attention to the NFL, the Browns are having their worst season in franchise history, starting 0-11 and with five games left a win doesn't look to be anywhere on the schedule.
Here's the good news - there's only five games left in this awful season, and next week Browns fans can plan anything else on Sunday because the Browns have their bye.
The team has been just nauseating to watch, with the following players playing quarterback at some point this season - Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan, Charlie Whitehurst, and Terrelle Pryor.
It's hard to find much good about this season for the Browns, but hey, we don't have to worry about the postseason, and better yet, a lot of fans don't even watch at this point, so we can be thankful that.
2. Two of the Three Major Sports Teams in Town are at the Top of Their Sport
It happened very differently, but no matter how you look at it, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Cleveland Indians are two of the best teams in sports right now.
Let that sink in as you eat your turkey.
The Cavs were not much of a surprise, as everyone knew if this team could stay healthy they were the best team in the East, and while they were taken to six games again in the Eastern Conference Finals, they won and then pulled off the unthinkable, winning the Finals in 7 games overcoming a 3-1 deficit to everyone's 'greatest team of all-time' the Golden State Warriors.
On the other side, the Indians kinda came out of nowhere, going on a 14-game win streak that set the tone for them to eventually win the AL Central, and then surprisingly dominate their way to the World Series in beating the Red Sox and Blue Jays before collapsing after a 3-1 lead over the Cubs in the World Series.
No matter, both teams are on tap to be good again and again challenge for a title, as the Cavs are already off to a 10-2 record and could be better than last season.
The Indians will again re-tool some spots this offseason, but there's no doubt when spring training starts they should be right at the top of the American League and like the Royals two-year run that ended in a title, this year could be the Tribe's year to finally finish off the World Series.
1. Cleveland is the City of Champions
For all the years of 'almost' and 'what ifs' this year the city of Cleveland finally got it done, as the Cavs rallied in the most amazing fashion, topping off the Warriors four games to three with a thrilling four-point win in the seventh game of the NBA Finals in Oakland.
It was so emotional for so many people to finally have the weight off the cities shoulder, and people celebrated with merchandise as well as a parade like never before.
The title win in a major sport came just a short time after the Cleveland (then Lake Erie) Monsters won the Calder Cup, setting up a summer of titles for the city.
Then we all watched as the Indians won the hearts of the city with a playoff run to remember, winning two series and taking the big bad Cubs to seven games after going up 3-1 before falling in tough fashion in extra innings 8-7.
While the Indians winning the World Series would have been the icing on the cake to a crazy good sports year, it was still a great year with a couple special teams that no one will ever forget.
Cleveland is a city of Champions again, and with the way the Cavs and Indians are going, there could very well be more hardware to come for the city.