Thomas Edison once said genius is one percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration. Well, growing up a Cleveland sports fan is one percent triumph and 99 percent nervous sweat and tears. Anyone familiar with the sports world knows about the 52-year championship drought in “The Land” which ended June 19, 2016 when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Championship. Granted, the Chicago Cubs haven’t even seen the World Series in 71 years, but the Bulls, White Sox and even the Bears have kept the city satisfied with championships between Michael Jordan, Mike Ditka and the 2005 Sox. Cleveland has known only heartbreak for 52 years which just happens to be the entire time my mom has been alive — she was born in 1964, 52 years ago.
The city often known as the Rust Belt Capital of the Midwest erupted this June after a drought which embodied the economic downturn of the region finally ended. Much like many middle schoolers returning from youth group retreats, our city faced the difficult task of building on our mountaintop experience to keep the fire going. Luckily, Terry Francona and the Cleveland Indians took the torch and brought us back to the World Series for the showdown of the century against the Chicago Cubs.
Call it Karma or just bad luck, but in the “Year of The Land” when I finally get to watch not one, but two championships, I am stuck in the western suburbs of Chicago and almost always the only Cleveland fan in the room. While my family and closest friends crowd around Progressive Field, I’m stuck in Wheaton surrounded by bandwagon Cubs fans; fitting for a Clevelander.
Irony aside, the World Series has been a treat to watch and both teams brought their very best. The combination of shutouts, grand slams and home plate collisions was absolute eye candy. Baseball at its best is more than a pastime, it’s a circus of athleticism and strategy and anyone who watched this series can attest.
Retrospectively, should I have skipped a night class and a quiz to watch Game 6? Of course, I’m a Clevelander through and through and I didn’t cheer during hopeless seasons to forsake my Indians in their time of need. Game 7 proved to be the equivalent of an entire finals week of stress pounded into five hours of sheer mayhem. There I was, the sole Tribe fan in a room of 23 friends. I sat through a lead off home run, a 1-5 deficit, a ridiculous eighth inning, a rain delay and a one-run finish away from victory after a heart-wrenching game.
Just as any good Cleveland fan, I return to the refrain: There’s always next year!