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Cleveland Fans Basking in Success of Indians and Cavaliers

J. Miers
Wikimedia Commons
Cleveland Indians play the first game of the World Series at home against the Chicago Cubs.

The first game of the World Series is tonight in Cleveland.  It pits the two teams with the longest droughts in World Series championships: The Indians and Chicago Cubs.  

The success of the Indians has caught sports fans here by surprise.  Some are still coming to grips with their Cavaliers winning the NBA championship in June, as Ideastream's Mark Urycki reports.

The Cubs have been waiting over a 100 years for a World Series victory. But that’s just a franchise problem. 

The city of Chicago has enjoyed a Super Bowl victory, six NBA championships in the 90’s, a White Sox World Series win in 2005, and the Stanley Cup just last year. 

Cleveland went 52 years without any major sport championship.  The Cavaliers had to battle back after being down three games to one to win it all this summer. Team owner Dan Gilbert,  speaking at business conference in September, wondered about the Indians following suit.

“It’s amazing how winning is contagious, right?" Gilbert said. "I think the Indians are – between you – I think they’re going to win the thing. I just do. Things just tend to happen that way. Right, doesn’t it just tend to happen that way?” 

Well, maybe not in Cleveland.  But LeBron James and the Cavaliers have been showing up at Indians games, like when he addressed the crowd before the Divisional Series game 2 against the Red Sox.

“Just like you guys were behind our back for our championship run, we have to rally together for their championship run tonight for Game 2," James said.

The Value of Hard Work

Akron author David Giffels latest book is called The Hard Way on Purpose.

"Always believe something, Cleveland," Giffels says. "It’s always us against the world, always us against the world, Cleveland against the world, let’s go!"

He says people in Northeast Ohio are so used to the uphill battle that they wouldn’t have it any other way. It's the value of hard work. 

“It becomes instilled in generation after generation to where that’s the right way of doing things," Giffels says. "Inheriting money from your wealthy parents would be seen, I think, almost as a sign of weakness.”

Younger fans were simply happy to win, but older fans paused a little when the NBA Game 7 clock ran out.  They’ve lived through half a century of last-minute playoff defeats snatched from the jaws of victory. 

“In the final minute of the Cavs game when it finally looked like this what going to happen, my brother grabbed me," Giffels says. "We were watching the games together and he grabbed me by the lapels and looked me square in the eye and said  ‘I’m not sure who we’re going to be if this happens.  I’m not sure how we’re supposed to feel.’ ”

Breaking the Culture of Failure

Jim Iona of Munroe Falls says championships can do a world of good for the region.

“That gave the whole area just a ton of respect that we should have had a long time ago," he says, "and got everybody to stop talking about the Curse and the Fumble and the Drive and everything else."

Indians Fan Jim Kubik  of Cuyahoga Falls agrees.

“Success breeds success and I think the Cavs did it and now these other teams could see," Kubik says. "The Indians might do it. We need to break the culture of failure and we’re doing it.” 

With a Cavaliers flag in his car window, David Williams of Cleveland shows his allegiance.  He’s always been optimistic about championships.

"I’ve been expected it a long time," he says.

How long?

“I’d say a couple decades.”    

The Cleveland Way

The Cavaliers get their rings tonight and they’ll unfurl the championship banner at Quicken Loans arena.

At the same time, next door at Progressive Field, an Indians team beset with injuries faces the winningest team in baseball this year.

Tribe fan Alan Waldinger says that’s the Cleveland way.

“We’re sort of the come-from-behind, downtrodden might be too negative of a term, but, so I think that kind of idea of having two starting pitchers out for the playoffs or being down 3-1 certainly plays into that," Waldinger says.

Even with all their injured players, the Indians have one thing going for them. Today is St. Crispin’s Day. 

Today, 601 years ago, the greatly outnumbered English army under Henry V defeated the French at Agincourt and inspired the greatest pre-game pep talk in the English language, from William Shakespeare.  

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition; And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day. “

At least this time, the Indians have the home field advantage. Hey, maybe the Browns could win next.