Thursday, April 26, 2007

Best Week Ever?

Usually here in Cleveland we watch our sports teams like dateless high-school wallflowers watch the prom. We'll look at the girls in their skimpy dresses and make clever comments, all while leaning against the wall and playing cool like we never wanted to dance with any of them anyway. Nope, not us, we're way beyond something as ridiculous as dancing with a GIRL. We're not even going to try and dance with any of them, because they might say no or something.

That's how we've been watching our teams here this past week -- leaning back, one foot propped up on the wall, and one eye on the dance floor. It's all great, really, all this winning, all these fantastic finishes, all these playoff victories. Heck, we might even get the nerve up to think we should actually ask one of the girls to dance!

Check it out:

  • The Indians have won five of six after their meltdown in NYC last week, while the mighty Yankees have lost every game since. The new Kardiac Tribe has won two of those in the ninth inning and two others in extra innings. And now they're in first place by a game. Roberto Hernandez has picked up two victories during the stretch while Trot Nixon smacked a homer in Thursday's game. Then there's Jhonny Peralta, who knocked in the game-winning run Wednesday. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm, it's all going just like Mark Shapiro said ...

  • The Cavs have done just what everyone predicted, winning the first two en route to a possible sweep of the shorthanded Washington Wizards. No, the James Gang hasn't exactly been like King Leonidas whalloping the invading Persians, but they've done just enough to get us thinking about the second round -- and perhaps even look ahead to an Eastern Conference Finals rematch with the Pistons. OK, so the Cavs haven't won by a Phoenix-like 30 points in either of the first two games, but they haven't trailed at the end of any quarter yet.

  • Then there's the Browns, who culminated the week with the ultimate shall-we-dance? moment, the NFL Draft. Should they ask Brady Quinn to the prom? Or Joe Thomas? But what if no one's asked that hottie JaMarcus Russell out yet -- think he's too nuts? At the same time, we all want whoever the Browns take to be the same one WE want to spend the rest of our lives with. Is it too much to hope for???
Really, what a week. The Kardiac Tribe, an unbeaten NBA playoffs run, and the NFL draft, all within seven days. This might just be the greatest Cleveland sports week since the Indians playoff run of 1997. And it all followed the most devastating regular-season loss for the Tribe in the Jacobs Field era.

Consider our best weeks of the past decade:

2006: During the Cavs' first-round playoff victory over the Wizards last year, the Indians went just 6-7.

2005: The Indians went 17-2 from Sept. 5 to Sept. 24. But the Browns were just 1-2 during that stretch. Both teams lost on Sept. 25, the Tribe in devastating fashion when Grady Sizemore lost a fly ball in the sun in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals.

2004: The Tribe won 10 of 11 from Aug. 4 to Aug. 14, but was the only game in town. Then they lost a battle for first place with the Twins on Aug. 15, the beginning of nine straight defeats and a plunge from contention.

2003: LeBron James outplayed the hype, debuting on Oct. 29 with 25 points, six rebounds, and nine assists in the season-opener on the road against the Sacramento Kings. Predictably, the Cavs lost this along with their next four while the Browns were losing 9-3 to the New England Patriots heading into their bye week.

2002: It was a great week until about two minutes left on Jan. 5, when Tommy Maddox and the Pittsburgh Steelers completed their comeback in the AFC wild-card game against the Browns.

2001: The Tribe's last foray into the playoffs was great for a few days, but ultimately a 2-1 series lead against the Mariners ended with a five-game series loss on Oct. 15. The Browns didn't help with a loss to division-rival Cincinnati on Oct. 14.

2000: Browns -- three wins. Cavs -- losing season in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001. Indians -- winning season, but missed the playoffs by a game. All good weeks were rendered irrelevent.

1999: The Browns returned to play their first game of their second life against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 12. They were crushed 43-0. We remained excited all week, until the Tennessee Titans whipped the Browns, 26-6. In between, the Indians went 2-6. Still, it was the greatest week of the year, even though the Tribe made the playoffs.

1998: Both our best weeks ended up the same. The Cavs lost a four-game playoff series to the Indiana Pacers in the first half of the year. The Indians lost a four-game playoff series to the New York Yankees in the second half of the year.

So there you have it. Since the magical Indians playoff run of 1997 that took us all the way to the World Series, all our Best Weeks Ever have been tinged with sadness, the proverbial dark cloud behind the silver lining. But not this one, not the one we're in the midst of. The Cavs haven't let us down, the Indians have provided several heart-stopping victories, and the Browns are poised to draft the franchise-saving hero.

Of course, there is always Saturday and the end of the week.

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