Written by: JP Lococo (@jp_lococo)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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Most people who have had any type of sports conversation with me will quickly find out that I’m a proud Cleveland sports fan. Growing up in various towns on the shores of Lake Erie has lead me to become a fan of one of the more disappointing sports towns in the country but now, I am completely entrenched in the history of Cleveland sports.
Growing up, the sports scene was not always as bad as it may be perceived today. Let’s not forget the 90’s were a time of dominance for the Indians as they won division titles in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999. The Cavs reached the highest amount of success in franchise history during the “LeBron Era” and won their first conference championship in 2007. The Browns, well, lets be honest, they have obviously struggled since returning to the league in 1999 and made their only playoff appearance in 2002. In saying that, I think the general public is aware of the recent blunders by the Indians in the second half of the last three seasons and the Cavs rebuilding process since “The Decision”. In all honesty, it’s not easy being a Cleveland sports fan.
Despite the struggles and let downs over the years, the one thing that has remained is the loyal fan base. I read through the previous article on this blog posted by Curt Ashcraft and it has inspired me to create a new monthly column dedicated to the fans of Cleveland sports and how I feel about the current situation of each team. So lets see where we stand in the month of July, shall we?
Indians - Cautiously Excited
The Indians currently sit at 51-44 and are in second place of the AL Central. My expectations going into the year were relatively high. Terry Francona was hired as the Tribe manager, which then led to a number of personnel changes and additions such as Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds and Drew Stubbs. The “new look” Indians gave us fans some hope that change was finally coming. Over the past couple of years, we have been let down by this ball club in July, August and September as we continuously slipped out of playoff contention. The 2013 season may be a bit different. Francona acts as the glue to this team and there seems to be a better spirit within the clubhouse. I am not saying that we will make a run at the pennant this year, but if we can continue to get solid starts from Justin Masterson and company, then there is no reason why this team can’t be in the hunt this September. The Indians are 30-19 at home at the All-Star break and only 1.5 games behind the Tigers for first place. Let’s not get carried away with this team as we have in years past Tribe fans, but let’s continue to watch this season unfold as we progress past the All-Star break.
Browns - Hopeful
Where do I start with the Brownies? With all the recent allegations surrounding new majority owner Jimmy Haslam, I think it has been hard for fans to find a whole lot of positive press about this team. Throw the Cleveland Browns in Google and the first couple of articles that appear are about Haslam and the Pilot Flying J. But then again, it is only July so let’s pump the breaks. I personally don’t like to look too far ahead into the NFL season so my thoughts and feelings are currently reserved.
In saying that, I remain hopeful once again about the Browns that they can somehow compete in one of the toughest divisions in the league. For most, it seems the immediate success of the Browns will rest on the play of quarterback, Brandon Weeden. The second year quarterback ranked 19th in the NFL last year in yards thrown which was higher than perennial NFL starters, Jay Cutler and Ben Roethlisberger, and even higher than rookie phenom, RG3. The strong arm and an improved supporting cast gives me optimism that Weeden can continue to climb the charts in the new spread offense the Browns will be implementing under new offensive coordinator, Norv Turner. But for now, remaining hopeful is probably the best that we can be in July with the Brownies.
Cavaliers – Straight Up Excited
Can you say biggest off-season signings in Cavs history? Yes, I believe that is fair to say. I don’t want to go too in depth on the Cavs since our very own Curt Ashcraft covered the big move of the month in his most recent post, but I think it is fun to review such a positive month for the wine & gold.
With the large NBA markets attracting the majority of the attention from free agents, Cavs fans normally only get to speculate and hope on marquee players coming to Cleveland. All that changed this month when Earl Clark, Jarret Jack and Andrew Bynum all decided to sign with the Cavs. Going into this month, I thought the Cavs needed a compatible back-up guard for Kyrie Irving, depth on our front line, as well as an addition to the small forward position. As we close in on the end of July, I find it exciting to see that all of those positional needs were addressed on some level. I think fans like me have found excitement in this young team and the optimism is evident.
Cleveland fans, how do you feel about the current situation of your favorite teams? Let me know and feel free to leave comments below providing me with your thoughts and questions!