As the millennium dawned, the Tribe we loved was sent packing by Trader Shapiro. (Old joke: What’s the official vehicle of the Cleveland Indians? A U-Haul.) The talentless Cavs changed coaches the way Lindsay Lohan changes rehab centers. Browns coach Butch Davis’ NFL draft picks were an argument against intelligent design. (See also Chris Palmer’s offense.) Our teams were Midwestern, middle-market, cursed. On the playgrounds, Cleveland kids sported Kobe gear and Yankee caps. Diehards wept.
Sports aren’t magic. But when stars align, teams can be magical. By 2005, the convergence was at hand. Witness: LeBron willing the Cavs past the Detroit Pistons and into the NBA finals last winter. And the Tribe vanquishing the dreaded New York Yankees to reach the American League Championship Series this past season. (OK, so the Cavs got swept and the Tribe gave up a 3-1 series lead to the Red Sox.)
Once again, there are players everyone knows on a first-name (or nickname) basis, whose jerseys we can wear proudly: LeBron, Boobie, C.C., Pronk, Grady, Brady, Braylon and K2.
Does any of this guarantee a championship? Please, we know better than that. But at least there’s hope — and LeBron (which is even better).