There's no such thing as a curse.
I have to remind myself of that fact whenever certain events regarding Cleveland professional sports occur. Thursday, September 27 started off innocently enough for fans of both the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns. By the end of the night, members of the Indians fan base were left confused, happy/upset depending on the individual and even a bit optimistic, while Browns supporters could once again do nothing but look up toward the heavens for answers.
Some blame it all on nothing more than the "Cleveland sports curse." I, on the other hand, just blame ineptitude.
Cleveland Indians fire Manny Acta
In a move that was completely unexpected as of Thursday morning according to several Cleveland sports talk radio personalities, the Indians fired manager Manny Acta at roughly 1:00 pm ET. It really isn't all that hard to imagine that Acta's firing came as a surprise to some of the most knowledgeable individuals in the baseball world. Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti publicly backed the team's manager earlier this month, and the Tribe went into the off day having won three of four against division opponents, including two victories over a Chicago White Sox team that is now in danger of missing the playoffs.
With only six games left on the schedule, the Indians made the ultimate "why even bother?" move, showing Acta the door before throwing fans the smallest of bones by naming former player and Cleveland sports hero Sandy Alomar Jr. as interim manager. Don't get me wrong. I like the idea of Alomar Jr. as manager of the Indians. I just don't think it's going to last past this fall.
The Indians, like the Browns, are perpetually seeking out that one "big thing," the person or idea that will magically transform the franchise into a winner that fills the ballpark night after night and also sells a ton of merchandise. Literally less than one hour after Antonetti spoke to reporters about the firing of Acta, rumors began to surface about former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona going to Cleveland, possibly as soon as next week.
Whether or not any Cleveland fan likes the idea of Francona leading the Tribe is as irrelevant as are the Indians this September. No one player, manager or front office individual is alone fixing this team. The Indians aren't so much a work in progress as they are a plot of land that could one day be the home of something special. It's the opinion of many Indians fans I know that those running the club have no plans for the immediate or long-term future. Thursday offered just another example that such individuals may be right.
Browns lose to Ravens
I honestly believe that, at this stage, most Browns fans hate the Pittsburgh Steelers more than they do the Baltimore Ravens. That doesn't make losing to the team that should have won a Super Bowl in Cleveland a little over a decade ago any less painful. Not a single Browns fan I know believed, heading into Thursday evening, that Cleveland was going into Baltimore and beating the Ravens. What you have to understand, however, is that the Browns have a magical way of exceeding expectations while at the same time falling just short of a win and crushing the souls of those who bleed brown and orange.
Thursday night's game had a little bit of everything for Browns fans. We watched in horror as local legend Josh Cribbs was knocked out cold with a bone-crunching hit, and then stood and applauded in our living rooms and in bars/restaurants as we watched him walk off the field. We moaned when it looked like a touchdown would give Baltimore a two-score lead heading into halftime, but then had reason for hope after Trent Richardson found the end zone with 2:32 to go in the second quarter.
Then came the teases. The Cleveland defense finally made the stop I've been waiting to see all season, one that gave a Browns offense that had some momentum the football with a chance to take the lead. Rookie QB Brandon Weeden took a snap at the Cleveland 43-yard line before staring a hole into wide receiver Travis Benjamin. Weeden floated his pass out toward the right sideline, and Cary Williams jumped the route before snatching the ball and taking it to the house.
The teases continued. The Browns defense didn't give up a single point during the second half, and Phil Dawson was his accurate and dependable self, burying field goals from 51, 50 and 52 yards out. As has been the case numerous times over the past four years, however, Cleveland just couldn't seal the deal. The struggling Greg Little couldn't hold onto a high but catchable ball in the end zone, and Weeden nearly sailed the final pass of the game into the first row, and he did so after the Browns were given a reprieve thanks to an absurd penalty that gifted Cleveland one final play.
So the cycle continues for Cleveland sports fans. We are supposed to find solace in the fact that the Browns battled and hung with a true Super Bowl contender on Thursday night, and also believe that the Indians took a step in the right direction by parting ways with another manager. The song that's constantly on a loop remains the same.
I'm far past ready to hear a new tune.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Cleveland Indians
- Cleveland Browns
- Manny Acta