Explain your Cleveland and Ohio sport team fandoms. Is there an order?
Joe: I do not really have an order in my Cleveland sports fandom. My favorite sport is football, so the Browns might have a slight edge, but not by much. I follow and love all three sports teams in Cleveland. I also follow and cheer for the Ohio State athletics. Even as an alum of Baldwin Wallace, I have kept Ohio State as my team to cheer for in Division I. I also follow my high school, St. Ignatius, sports’ teams. Sports is who I am and Cleveland sports is ingrained in me. My dad brought me up in sports and I have continued my fandom as an adult.
Josh: Being an all Cleveland guy, I don’t necessarily have a favorite. Then again, given the Browns’ inexcusable play on Fall Sundays, my favorite two are by far the Cavs and Indians. But even more than those two are Ohio State football. I would take a College Football Saturday everyday of the week. Along with that, I also love my basketball Buckeyes. I am and always have been a sports fanatic. Ever since I was younger, I would watch SportsCenter all day every day, even if the same story came up multiple times. My dream is that the three Cleveland teams are in the playoffs in the same year, Ohio State football makes the national championship, and Ohio State basketball makes the tournament.
Bode: As a Cleveland expat, I am always the away fan, but there remains a strong emotional tie to the Northeast Ohio teams. Over the years, I’ve become disenfranchised with the NBA, so I don’t follow the Cavs outside the coverage here at WFNY. Somehow, that has yet to happen with the Browns despite years-and-years-and-years of disappointment and frustration. Perhaps rooting for the Ohio State Buckeyes at the other end of the football spectrum has helped balance me each fall. No one should be surprised though that the Indians are my favorites. Baseball has always been a fascination to me with the new revelations about the nuances coming at a frantic pace the past few years adding to it.
Scott: Not the most captivating of answers, but there really isn’t an order. I feel like football lends itself to the best television experience, and let’s be honest — this city would trade everything for a Super Bowl. I grew up playing baseball, and (falsely) believe that if I was left-handed, I’d still be playing, so watching the Indians has always been a pastime. And of all the sports to cover, it was incredible to be able to be on the ground level for the Cavaliers’ championship season, covering the ups and downs and seeing the outright jubilation of a team — on of our teams — finally bring it all home. They’ll always have a special place if only because of that summer.
Gerberry: Baseball will always have a special place in my heart. I fell in love with the Indians watching with my grandpa and nothing could ever really take me away from them, even years of futility and despair, not unlike the Browns who are number two for me. The Cavs are like the new girl in school, mysterious and exciting and I’m enjoying watching them, but soon, after LeBron leaves again, they will become like any other girl you grew up with.
Dave: I love all of the Cleveland sports teams, but unfortunately my favorite team is the Browns, and the hope that one day the Browns could be good again is the biggest sports wish I have. Next would probably be the Cavs, because LeBron. And although they are last on THIS list, there isn’t a lot that separates the Indians.
What team do you believe is the closest to a championship and why? How close are they?
Joe: I believe the Indians are the closest to a championship. I think they are one of a handful of teams in baseball that are real contenders for a championship. The Indians have a young core that is built for several years and a front office that has hit on a lot of their moves over the course of the past few years. Also, the Indians have Tito Francona as manager, one of the best managers in the entire league. The Cavaliers are close, but they have to deal with a historic great team in Golden State.
Josh: Indians. Would love to say the Cavs here, but even with LeBron, the Warriors are just too good, especially given the Cavs’ early season struggles. The Indians have a shot to advance to their second World Series in three years, especially they re-sign who they should and add a few other pieces. In terms of college football, Ohio State may have the best shot to win a championship. The Buckeyes may just do it in January.
Bode: The Tribe is the closest because of the difference between leagues. The NBA coverage is not even pretending anyone has a chance this year outside of the Golden State Warriors as they have the star power and the experience playing together to their advantage. Variance is not as much of a thing in basketball as it is in baseball. That’s why even though I expect the Tribe to take a small step back in 2018, they should still have no issue winning their division. I’ll take my chances in the postseason with their rotation and bullpen, and hope for some better results from the lineup than what we saw this year.
Scott: Closest? The Cavaliers, but only based on seasonal timing. I do believe they’ll get their shit together by June and who knows what happens come the NBA Finals, but getting there is half of the battle. The Tribe, however, feels like the most likely. They’re young, they have talent, they have one of the best managers in baseball, and play in a sport with so much variance. I do fear that last season was their best shot, but I’m hoping they prove me wrong.
Gerberry: I will go a little contrarian and say the Cavs are the closest, due to the fact that a few key points could swing the Finals. Could Draymond nut punch his way to a suspension? Could Curry’s ankles bark up again, causing him to deteriorate? Could Wade/Love?Thomas step up alongside LeBron when it matters most and win an unwinnable game? I do believe the Indians have the longer window, but due to the playoffs variance machine, they can’t be promised to move past the ALDS anytime soon.
Dave: Despite how bad this years playoffs were, I still think the Indians are closest. They have elite talent across the board.
Has the Browns now having 10 straight seasons of fewer than eight wins affected how you watch them? Do you watch every game? Do you follow as closely? What is different?
Joe: The losing by the Browns has taken a toll on me, but I am still watching every game, following all the news items from the team and deeply hooked on the NFL Draft process. This season has really driven down farther than I have ever been, but I am in no mind frame of not watching the team and following their movements.
Josh: Would love to say that I have, but my fandom for the Browns has gone significantly down over the years. If it wasn’t for fantasy football, I couldn’t tell you how little I’d watch the NFL. Please just be good again Browns, I miss enjoying Sunday afternoons. Then again, I have watched the last two Browns games.
Bode: The Browns have become an academic exercise for me. The emotional tie is still there in as much as I could never follow another NFL team in the same manner that I follow the Browns, but I cannot allow a loss every Sunday affect my mood. It has become about being educated on the development and usage of players within the system and attempting to find where the team lacks, which is why I enjoy the NFL Draft coverage so much too.
Scott: I watch every game. I root for them the same way. I follow them just as close, if not closer. The difference is how much I let them impact my life. There was a game against Washington in 2008 where I was adamant the Browns should have won. Jamal Lewis put up about 80 yards on the ground; Braylon Edwards put up a respectable day. But Brandon Weeden was garbage all afternoon and the Browns couldn’t score, losing in a barn burner, 14-11. For what felt like the next hour, I stewed about this game only to realize how dumb that was. Now, when they do something inept — on or off the field — I just shake my head and wait for the next shoe to drop.
Gerberry: As much as I can for as long as I can. Winning would be fantastic, obviously, but it has morphed into a weird schadenfreude type experience for me, wherein you basically see how bad the loss can get. Kizer threw three picks while only attempting two passes? The defense gave up 27 unanswered points because the offense couldn’t stay on the field for nine consecutive series? Hue Jackson pulled the third-string quarterback and inserted HIMSELF into the job in a “Fine, I’ll do it myself” dad move? Jimmy Haslam has given up all pretense and is now sitting in a giant swivel chair holding Mr. Binx from Austin Powers and keep talking about sharks with lasers on their heads?? See…it could always get worse.
Dave: I still watch every game, unless there is a critical family event in the way. But I still follow the Browns closely. I love the team (as a concept) and I love the players, who really do seem to be working hard. It is the rest of the group that gets more vague.
If you could swap out any other professional franchise to place in Cleveland, then what team would be the new local club?
Joe: I would switch the Browns with the New England Patriots. We would have one of the best owners in the league, the best head coach in the league and one of the best organizational structures in the league. It would be awesome to follow a team that is battling for playoff positioning and not draft positioning.
Josh: Joe stole my thunder, but I mean, who wouldn’t want to swap out the Browns with literally any other franchise? With that said: #SaveTheCrew
Bode: I would drop Manchester United right in Cleveland to see once and for all if the United States wants to support the other futbol and also because giving Cleveland the English version of the New York Yankees seems fun. I cannot think of another team that would cause as much furor and focus on the Northcoast.
Scott: I can’t think of any franchise I wouldn’t want to swap the Browns out for, top to bottom, outside of keeping Joe Thomas in some capacity. I’m going to take this a step further and say I would swap out the entire market with one that would allow for regional cable dollars to allow both the Cavaliers and Indians to compete within their current collectively bargained agreements. I love how smart the Tribe has been able to be; I love that Dan Gilbert has been willing to spend all this time. But if Cleveland could produce revenue dollars similar to, say, San Diego? That’d be a game changer.
Gerberry: Pretty obvious answer is to take the Browns out, but I pitch this: have Jimmy sell the team to the city and let the fans buy stock like the Packers. Cleveland is undoubtedly a football town first, and their fans are without a doubt the most loyal fanbase to the colors of any in the league. Give the team back to the city the way it wants it.
Dave: A lot of answers here, but in a perfect world I’d love to move The Columbus Crew to a beautiful new soccer specific stadium in Cleveland. I think Cleveland would be a great soccer town. Short of that, maybe we could simply #SaveTheCrew and get a train to Columbus and that would work just as well.