I always loved April Fools Day as a kid, I thought it was funny to see some of the rouses and I always appreciated the more clever setups. I still take a lot of pride in the WFNY April Fools Day we pulled off a few years back with a day full of fake articles and an impressive, comprehensive feature on Johnny Utah. Today, however, I feel like April Fools is becoming overplayed. A lot of that is due to the reach of social media, where on Twitter every brand thinks they need to try to one-up the rest2. It gets a little exhausting and most of them cause me to simply roll my eyes.
But perhaps the best April Fools prank of 2019 was the day in Cleveland sports that was. The day started with the Cleveland Browns opening their 2019 workouts. With so many players and coaches back in the building in Berea, there were press conferences to be had. We had an always-entertaining Freddie Kitchens performance before the Odell Beckham Jr introductory press conference, where he was flanked by Myles Garrett, Jarvis Landry, and Baker Mayfield, an absolute embarrassment of riches. Having a press conference with that level of talent at key positions, with players and coaches talking about lofty expectations (even the phrase “Super Bowl” was uttered once or twice) was something incredibly hard to reconcile with the history of the Cleveland Browns franchise. It seemed like an April Fools prank.
Then we had the Cleveland Indians celebrating their home opener. On a day in which it was cold (of course) and there was lingering insecurity over Frankie Lindor’s visit to a specialist in Green Bay, the Tribe fell behind 3-1 in the 8th inning to the Chicago White Sox as bullpen fears materialized. Prior to this game, the Indians had scored five runs in three games. Overcoming a 3-1 deficit that late in the game seemed impossible. But then seemingly out of nowhere the Indians put some pressure on the White Sox bullpen and suddenly they put up four runs in the inning to take a 5-3 lead. Brad Hand then got the save in the 9th and we had an Indians win. It seemed like an April Fools prank.
As for the Cleveland Cavaliers, well…they, um….uh…they lost to the second-worst team in the NBA. So, hooray for tanking, right? The loss (which is actually a win, if we’re doing this right) moved the Cavaliers to just one win behind (ahead of?…this is confusing) the Phoenix Suns for that second-worst slot. Of course, passing the Suns wouldn’t improve odds of getting the top pick, but it would protect them against picking below sixth in the draft. It…seemed like an April Fools prank. Ok, ok. This one is a stretch.
Regardless, it was a great day for Cleveland sports with all three teams having something going on. It was a nice way to be able to celebrate Cleveland having three teams. But I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me also reflect a bit on what, exactly, is Cleveland’s role in the greater sports world.
Cleveland has had a rough go of it in sports. Not many titles in the last 50 years. In fact, there’s been just one. In my lifetime, there have been plenty of close calls and real chances for a title. The Browns played in three AFC Championship games, the Indians have played in three World Series, and the Cavaliers were in five NBA Championship series. The point here isn’t the sports misery that Cleveland is known for. There will be no misery montages here. Rather, the point is that this is actually quite a bit of excitement in my life. Cleveland has had a lot of really great teams.
And yet it feels like there is often so much unrest among Cleveland sports fans. I’m about to make a mistake that WFNY’s Scott Sargent always warns me about, which is to confuse Twitter for real life, but all weekend I’ve seen so much division among Cleveland sports fans. Indians fans vs Browns fans, in particular. There’s this constant idea floating in the ether that Cleveland sports fans need to tie their one true allegiance to a specific franchise. Sure, we might want all Cleveland teams to do well, but we can only really put our real passion into one team.
They are the same people… https://t.co/UBljcyJhde
— Craig Lyndall (@WFNYCraig) April 2, 2019
A lot of this culminated in some expressed angst over the Browns potentially “stealing” the Indians’ big day by introducing Odell Beckham on the same day as the Indians home opener.
Browns really looked the Indians dead in the eye and said "we're gonna introduce OBJ in the middle of your home opener."
— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) March 29, 2019
To be honest, I don’t really get it. Sure, I have my favorite sports and yeah, I have written way more articles on this site on the Cavaliers than any other franchise, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still an equally big fan of the other teams. I’d love nothing more than for every Cleveland sports team to be relevant and pushing for titles in the same year. You can’t tell me the 2016 World Series run by the Indians wasn’t enhanced by the fact that the Cavaliers had already won the NBA Championship that year. It was pure euphoria (until it wasn’t….thanks, Mother Nature).
So yeah, I found myself getting more than a little annoyed with the back and forth between “Indians fans” and “Browns fans” that I saw on Twitter.
Me: OBJ getting introduced AND Indians opening day? Awesome! Monday's gonna be a great day!
Indians fans: I can't believe the Browns would do this on our day….
Browns fans: Hahahahahahahahaha
— Andrew Schnitkey (@RockWFNY) March 29, 2019
This is such an exciting time for Cleveland sports. The Indians should push for another division title and postseason run. The Browns are going to be so exciting. The Cavaliers are going to have a high draft pick in hopes of transforming their team. I don’t know how Cleveland fits into the greater sports world puzzle, but I do know Cleveland should be just one piece and not three separate pieces.
I can fully admit that this might be nothing more than a Twitter construct. We often refer to things like “Browns twitter” and “Indians twitter”. I don’t know if that divide transcends into real life or not. I do know that I know some people in real life who expressed disappointment when the Cavs won the title that it was the Cavs and not the Browns or Indians who broke the drought. And that bummed me out to no end. So I don’t know. Whether it’s Twitter or real life, take some time to just enjoy all of these sports teams, Cleveland. The city is so fortunate to have three major franchises in the three major sports of this country. And right now, things feel like an April Fools prank, that’s how good we have it. So just enjoy it!