How about this Monday morning Ohio sports fans? Is this Nirvana or what? You’re celebrating the Tribe in the playoffs for the first time in six years. The Browns are tied for first place in the AFC North after beating the Bengals yesterday. The Steelers are off to their worst start since 1968 at (0-4). The Buckeyes just knocked off one of their rivals in the Badgers of Wisconsin to remain undefeated and ranked #3 in the country and the Cavaliers start up training camp today. Does it get much better than this?
Let’s hope so. Let’s hope this is just the beginning of a run that Cleveland and Ohio sports fans have been waiting for. A run of good fortunes that Cleveland and Ohio fans have earned the hard way all these years.
Hats off to the Indians organization for doing a complete 180. Going from 94 losses a year ago, to 92 wins this season. That’s a turnaround of 24 games in one year! The Dolan’s, Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti deserve some credit for rebuilding the team in one off season. Yes it took them hitting rock bottom last year, but maybe that was the wake-up call the owners needed in order to jump start the franchise again. It all began with the hiring of Terry Francona as manager. I still can’t believe he took the job, but boy am I glad he did. He is the main reason the Indians are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
After Tito agreed to be the skipper, then Nick Swisher became his first mate. Michael Bourn followed and then Jason Giambi joined the crew and things started to fall into place. While it was a bumpy ride at times for the S.S. Indians, they never got lost at sea. Their skipper was able to guide them back on course with his leadership until they reached their destination, the MLB Playoffs.
There’s no way to explain the short, quick turnaround of the Browns. From 0-2 and looking like one of the worst teams in the league, to 2-2 with consecutive wins that has put them in a first place tie with the Bengals and last year’s Super Bowl Champs, the Ravens. Two improbable moves have prompted this about face. One, naming a career back-up quarterback in Brian Hoyer as your starter. Two, trading your so called franchise running back in Trent Richardson for a first round draft pick next season.
Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi took a HUGE gamble in making both of these moves, but the early dividends are paying off. Will those dividends continue to pay off at such a high rate? Only time will tell, but it has a lot of people inside and outside the locker room believing that they are on the right track and a potential windfall might be coming their way for the first time in a long time.
As for the Buckeyes, they just continue to roll under the leadership of Urban Meyer. After taking care of Wisconsin on Saturday night before the third largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history, Ohio State is 5-0 on the year and have now won 17 straight under Urban Meyer. That’s right, “Honest Urb” as I like to call him, has not lost a game since taking over as head coach at “The Ohio State University”! Are they a National Championship contender this year? Absolutely! Will they win it? I don’t know, but what I do know is, it should be one hell of a ride now that Heisman trophy candidate Braxton Miller is back healthy and playing again at quarterback.
So savor all of this Cleveland and Ohio sports fans, lord knows you’ve earned it! Maybe the baseball, football and let’s hope the basketball gods too (as the Cavs open up training camp today) are finally smiling upon all the teams in the “Buckeye” state for a change. Maybe just maybe, we’ll have a fall and winter to remember forever!