The Cleveland Cavaliers eliminated the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the NBA playoffs a couple weeks ago. This was not surprising given Lebron James’ maturation and the improvement of his surrounding cast. What WAS surprising was the behavior of some Cavs fans at the Palace in games 3 and 4. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for celebrating your team’s success and whooping it up a bit, especially when you get a chance to see your team play on the road. What I can’t understand is some of the taunting Cleveland natives were dishing out to the Detroit faithful. Brooms are one thing, mocking and sarcastically waving goodbye to the home fans is another. I guess part of my confusion derives from the fact that Detroit teams have clearly had much more success both in my lifetime and all-time. Personally I think it’s embarrassing to carry on as the Cleveland fans were at the Palace when your teams have absolutely sucked for most of their existence.
Like I said, I love celebrating a win, but there is a distinct difference between celebrating and rubbing it in. I have seen the Tigers paste the Red Sox at Fenway during the magical 2006 season, the Pistons wax the Celtics at TD Banknorth pre-KG/Ray Allen, and the Red Wings take down the Hurricanes at the RBC center in Raleigh, for example, and while I enjoyed beating the home teams, I stopped short of mocking the opposing fans. I do this out of respect. You certainly expect fans from a city (Cleveland) and a state (Ohio) that have enjoyed minimal success in sports to show you the same respect, but then again, you can’t underestimate the power of in-breeding.
Well, the Tigers swept the Indians in Cleveland this past weekend, moving into first place in the AL Central by percentage points at 17-13. The lowly Indians have the worst record in the Majors. This weekend series was a harsh return to reality for Ohioans, who of late have become surprisingly cocky as King James tears up the NBA. To keep things in perspective, let’s just make some quick comparisons between franchises from the cities of Detroit and Cleveland over the last 25 years, to pick a round number:
NBA: The Detroit Pistons have made the playoffs 21 times, won 9 division titles, made 11 Eastern Conference Finals, 5 NBA Finals, and won 3 NBA championships. The Cleveland Cavaliers have made the playoffs 14 times, won 1 division title, made 2 conference finals and one NBA Final with no championships. Advantage: Detroit
MLB: The Detroit Tigers have made the playoffs 3 times, played in 2 World Series, and won the World Series in 1984. The Cleveland Indians have made the playoffs 7 times, played in 2 World Series, but have won no championships. Advantage: Detroit (It’s all about championships, and the Tribe hasn’t won one in 63 years. ‘Nough said.)
NFL: The Detroit Lions have played in 6 playoffs, won 2 division titles, and played in 1 NFC championship game. The Cleveland Browns have played in 7 post-seasons, won 4 division titles and played in 3 AFC championship games. Adavantage: Cleveland (Going by the numbers, although this is debatable. The Browns had a few good teams in the late 1980’s that had a lot of success, but they have otherwise sucked horribly since the mid-1960’s. The Lions had the entire Barry Sanders era of playoff entries, spanning over a decade.)
NHL: We’ll let Cleveland claim the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus made their first playoff appearance in franchise history this spring, getting swept by the Detroit Red Wings, who have won 4 Stanley Cups in the last 11 years, made 23 of the last 25 playoffs, won 15 of the last 25 division titles, and claimed 6 President’s Trophies. Advantage: Detroit
So, please Cleveland, we know you have Lebron and you’re excited about it. But know your place. Your championship curse currently stands at 45 years strong and counting. Let’s not get cocky because you won a first round series. Act like you’ve been there before. Oh, and one last thing: Your state of Ohio is an abysmal hole of smelly nothingness. I need a prozac infusion in both arms just driving through it. (Except for Cedar Point, of course, which has some bad-ass coasters.)