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February 22, 2024

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    Richard Saker/Contour by Getty Images As we end Black History Month, here is one of my favorite poets, Danez Smith, who writes on intersectionality between their Black and Queer identities. At the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Kansas City, MO, I had the opportunity to personally meet Smith, and they are […]
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Spring Housing Guide

Cleveland, the city of “almost”

They were oh, so close to the promised land.

That darn Tribe did it to us again.

They took a commanding ALCS lead on the Boston Red Sox and then let it slip as quickly as, say, a three-pitch strikeout from Josh Beckett.

Its been almost a week since a close, hotly-contested game seven turned into an 11-2 rout, and Cleveland fans everywhere, or just fans that despise the “Sawx,” were left wondering what might’ve been. The Indians, the team that defied odds all year, was finally brought back to earth.

This seems to be the recurring theme in Cleveland, getting to the verge of the promised land and then falling short in painful ways. The word “almost” comes to mind.

Throughout the city’s playoff history, the names speak for themselves.

The Drive. The Fumble. 1997. And so on. And so on.

In 2007, the heartache has come from multiple directions.

First it was the Cavaliers, and a magical playoff run.

Everything fell into place for the Cavs, something that in and of itself just sounds ludicrous, but actually happened.

In the first round, the Wizards were playing with Antawn Jamison and only Antawn Jamison, and the Cavs won easily in a sweep. Injuries to their best players kept the Wizards from being competitive, and the Cavs moved on.

Then came the Nets, and a glaring lack of depth. The Nets had virtually no inside presence, and Vince Carter only showed up to two of the games, so the Cavs were able to take the series in six.

Next in line was the Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons, an emotional roller-coaster ride of a series which can be completely summarized in three words and five syllables-Lebron and Boobie.

But when the Finals rolled around and the Cavs were on the brink of a championship, something more rare than Haley’s Comet, the bottom fell out, the Spurs showed why they are so incredibly good and fans were left with another “almost.”

Going on at the same time as the NBA playoffs was the Indians’ regular season, one of their best in a long, long time.

They played (and won) “home” games in Milwaukee and Seattle. Fausto Carmona made the rotation as a fill in for Cliff Lee and became one of the AL’s premier starting pitchers. Paul Byrd won 15 games as a number five starter. The offense looked unbeatable at times. Kenny Lofton came back and his long career came full circle. And C.C. Sabathia finally lived up to his lofty potential as a staff ace.

Even the old “Jacobs Field Magic” of the 90s seemed back, as last-at-bat wins and late game comebacks were all the rage again. With 96 wins and a new Central Division title, the Indians looked like a team that could finally break the “almost” curse.

Against the Yankees in the ALDS, the Tribe showed their mettle and won in four games, with Byrd getting the unlikeliest of postseason wins-one in Yankee Stadium. At that point, the planets looked to be aligned. This was the team that would finally break through.

But then the Red Sox series started, and the team that was destined to win it all and had a 3-1 series lead was shot down by one massive swing of Dustin Pedroia’s bat in the seventh inning of the seventh game – “almost” was back.

The Browns are currently 3-3 and have a pretty good chance of going over .500 for the first time in a few years on Sunday. How the rest of their season will go is only a guess.

But when it comes to these teams, how about a break?

Why not finish the job?

Why not Cleveland?

The Drive. The Fumble. Jim Chones’ foot. 1997. The dominance of the Spurs. The 3-1 ALCS collapse.

Welcome to Cleveland, “The City of Almost Champions,” where “how” and “when” are usually always replaced with “why not.”

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