By Victor Milani
This piece of editorial diatribe is a spinoff of Vic’s Corner. Like many of you long-suffering Cleveland sports fans. I have experienced the good, the bad and ugly of Cleveland sports. Having been a photographer to many of the events for various publications over the past few decades, I feel a certain knowledge of what I speak of, while being the average fan. Cleveland fans are knowledgeable, die hard in their loyalty, while having only title (The Cavs and LeBron James). Defeat as seemingly been taken from the jaws of victory on many occasions, (THE DRIVE, THE FUMBLE, RED RIGHT 88, THE SHOT, JOSE MESA) just to name a few debacles.” Wait till next year” has been the Cleveland sports motto forever!
Today the Indians season ended with a thud, losing to Houston in a series sweep, 3 games to 0. The better team won, and mercifully it didn’t take long to prove so. Winning the weak Central Division hardly prepared the Tribe for the playoff talents of the rest of the American League. The window of opportunity to win in the future is closing, The Indians starting pitching is viable (although Kluber goes MIA in the playoffs. The bullpen never got going, with Andrew Miller injured and Cody Allen inconsistent. Both are free agents and will command contracts the Tribe can’t. and should not pay. Josh Donaldson is another free agent who was a blue light special at third base and probably won’t return. Other than Brantley, the outfield was a plethora of part-time veterans and minor leaguers. Jose Ramirez seemed lost at years end, and in the playoffs. You’re in trouble when your second baseman (Kipnis) is the starting center fielder. The Indians will likely win the Central Division again next year, but unless the stars shine in the playoffs instead of dimming out. I see the same result. WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR!
The Browns, on the other hand, have brought interest and life back to Cleveland football. Baker Mayfield and Nordonia alumni Denzil Ward have sparked the team from the doldrums of past year’s embarrassment. Myles Garrett has finally been healthy and is proving worthy of his previous first round pick status. The wide receivers other than Landry, are a work in progress. The Browns defense, other than the Raiders fiasco, has been good. Johnson, Hyde, and Chubbs form a strong running back nucleus. The offensive line needs time to mesh as a unit. The Browns special teams have been their Achilles heel. The punting game has been respectable, with the kicking game (even making extra points) a nightmare. The winning field goal against the Ravens was even ugly. But a win is a win, and the Browns are 2-2-1. They could be better with better kickers, but there is light at the end of the Browns tunnel this year, and it’s not a train coming. 8-8 actually seems attainable. Playoffs?? WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR.
Finally, the Cavs begin the Lebron James less era. Ty Lue will finally have to learn how to coach a team, and not pacify the superstar at every turn. Love, Nance, Sexton, Hood, Korver, Hill, Osman, etc, might win 40 games this year. Transitional year is an understatement. The Cavs won’t bounce back in one year losing one of all time greats in James. They will be entertaining players like Thompson and JR Smith, I’d prefer it if they would play elsewhere. They make a ton of money, with little return, and take playing time from younger talent. I’ll be surprised if Owner Dan Gilbert keeps Coach Lue. Heck, he might even sell the team. If they do backdoor into the playoffs as a seventh or eight playoff seed, they will make an early exit. As will James Lakers if that’s any consolation. ONCE AGAIN, WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR.