It's pouring rain at the Rally Monday event for the Cleveland Indians. Still, the Indians faithful showed up in large numbers. Cleveland sports fans are a hearty bunch that rarely let anything rain on their parade. Not the critics. Not fat-mouthed, trash-talking opponents. Not even the diabolical scoreboard.
In the long-lasting lulls between "the good times," being a diehard Cleveland sports fan requires more than a little faith, endurance, and an awfully thick skin.
Cities whose trophy cases are brimming wouldn't understand the gnawing hunger this town has for a true champion, in any sport. "We'll get 'em next year" has been our mantra for far too long. Lately, though, things are looking up.
All over Greater Cleveland sports fans are engaged in a rare, simultaneous happy dance. Basketball fans, baseball fans, football fans and even hockey fans have reason to smile in a way that they haven't in years. What's got soggy Cleveland sports fans dancing in the streets of Downtown Cleveland?
The Cleveland Indians clinched the Central Division for the first time since 2001 and are tied with the Boston Red Sox for the best record in baseball this year. We're raring for the playoffs which begin Thursday, October 4 th against the New York Yankees. Yes, we're aware that we couldn't beat them during the regular season. But the playoffs are a completely different animal. Just ask the Cavs.
The Cleveland Browns are beginning to look like a team that is equal to the talent of its individual players. For years it seemed the football gods have had it in for us. Mishaps, injuries, quarterback shuffling, and other shenanigans left the infamous Dawg Pound little to cheer about.
This season the ever-faithful Browns fans - who've been desperate for something, anything to celebrate - can see signs of life. Our offense and defense got the job done in a well-played game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Quarterback Derek Anderson has stepped up his game, despite the pressure of being "one play away" from being a benchwarmer to pretty boy rookie, and town-proclaimed football messiah, Brady Quinn.
Joshua Cribs, special teams player extraordinaire, made more mind-blowing returns. Kellen Winslow, Jr. showed grit and determination, playing with a separated shoulder. Braylon Edwards has settled down both on and off the field and came up with a huge 78-yard touchdown in yesterday's game.
The handy defeat over our division rivals was a much-needed shot in the arm for the team, its coaching staff, and our town in general.
Then there are the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cavs fans are still giddy over the team making its first ever appearance in the NBA Finals earlier this year. The details of what happened once we got there are still a little fuzzy in our collective memories, except the part about being the reigning Eastern Conference Champions. We definitely remember that and it feels pretty darn good.
What makes being the Eastern Conference Champs even sweeter? Putting the smackdown on the Detroit Pistons. A team that many Cavs fans feared would be the new Cavs-stopper. A role Michael Jordan happily fulfilled all those years ago.
And for the hockey fans, well, there will be hockey again. Dan Gilbert, the majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is bringing the Lake Erie Monsters to town. The season kicks off later this week, on Saturday, October 6 th .
Whether times are good or bad sportswise in "The Cleve," our fans are the kind that any team would be grateful for. We'll let our owners, managers, coaches, and players have it every now and then - yours truly included. But, the bottom line is that we continue to watch, attend, support, and sell-out our sporting events.
Lately, we feel like we are getting the love right back.
Samara Leigh is a Northeast Ohio-based freelance writer and an Interior Redesign Consultant. Her non-fiction and fiction work celebrates the triumphant spirit of women on a journey of self-discovery. She is a regular contributor to several online publications and is currently working towards the publication of her first novel.
Blog: Mindful Banter: http://www.samaraleigh.blogspot.com
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