Cleveland sports teams experience share of heartbreak

Peter Cooke, Sports Editor

Cleveland Browns

 

The 2011 season wasn’t the prettiest for the Cleveland Browns. They finished the year 4-12 while all three other teams in the AFC North made the playoffs. In a division where fans can’t decide who they hate more, going 0-6 against three major rivals takes its toll on their aspirations.

For club president Mike Holmgren, identifying the team’s problems was the easy part. Whether he has solved them has yet to be determined. Head coach Pat Shurmur tried to move up from the No. 4 overall pick to snag either of the draft’s premier quarterbacks in Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but was ultimately unsuccessful. With Plan A looking more and more grim, Shurmur turned to the second most important position on the offensive side of the ball and went for it. Deciding not to wait, the Browns went bold and traded up one spot to the third pick and selected Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Richardson, a perennial Heisman candidate, will replace 2010 breakout and 2011 disappointment Peyton Hillis, who decided to limp off into the sunset and join the Kansas City Chiefs.

With the running back problem solved, the Browns continued to draft boldly, selecting Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, the oldest player ever drafted in the first round, with the 22nd overall pick. Weeden will have his work cut out for him as he moves from his high flying shotgun offense in college to a more conservative west coach approach and the likenesses of the Baltimore Ravens’ and Pittsburgh Steelers’ defenses. The 28 year old rookie will have a steep learning curve, and Browns fans are hoping he’ll turn in a few good seasons before joining the AARP and retiring to Boca Raton.

The Browns will also face the third hardest schedule in the league this year, making their playoff odds even slimmer. With four of their first six games against 2011 playoff teams and 12 of 16 against teams with winning records last season, there’s a bleak outlook for the upcoming season.

The Browns play downtown next to Lake Erie in Cleveland Browns Stadium. Home games are accessible via the Rapid’s red line to the blue/green line, or the Health Line and a short walk.

Tickets: Prices typically begin around $40

Season: Sept. 9 – Dec. 30

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

 

When Cleveland fans aren’t braving the elements at Browns Stadium, they’ll likely be camping out at Quicken Loans Arena (affectionately known as “The Q”). The Q houses Cleveland’s very own Cavaliers and is currently the world capital for haters of LeBron James.

Unfortunately for Cleveland sports diehards, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s guarantee of bringing a home a title to the Cleve before James could bring one to South Beach didn’t quite come to fruition. Instead, the Cavs found themselves at the end of the 2011-2012 season with No. 1 draft pick Kyrie Irving earning the NBA’s Rookie of the Year honors and his way to becoming a franchise star…and a 21-45 record, earning the NBA draft’s No. 4 pick. Unfortunately, only time will tell if the Cavs made the right pick in taking Dion Waiters from Syracuse; this of course comes just one year after the team picked Texas’ Tristan Thompson, who thus far has failed to live up to the potential of a top five lottery pick. The Cavs also managed to snag North Carolina center Tyler Zeller with the 17th pick in the draft. Zeller’s a solid player and looks to make a strong transition to the NBA. The question remains whether he was worth trading the Nos. 24, 33 and 34 picks.

The Cavaliers finished last season at the bottom of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference and tied for the third worst record in the league. The team certainly has youth on its side with four first round picks from the past two years, but consequently lacks strong veteran leadership other than 29 year-old center and fan favorite Anderson Varejao. Varejao, however, has been linked to several trade rumors and may not be around for long enough to craft Zeller as his replacement.

If Cleveland is able to mount a strong season, the one thing they have on their side is youth and after last year’s strike-shortened season. Young legs have certainly proven to be game changers. However, competing in the same division as the regular season conference champion Chicago Bulls and third seed Indiana Pacers, the Cavs will have more than their fair share of work cut out for them if they hope to make the playoffs, especially after going 3-12 against division foes last year.

Quicken Loans Arena is located downtown right next to Tower City and Progressive Field. It’s a quick shot down the Rapid’s Red Line or the Health Line.

Tickets: $9+

Season: Oct. 30 – Apr. 17

 

Cleveland Indians

 

After optimistic starts this season and the last, the Cleveland Indians have seemed to accept their position of mediocrity in the American League central division. The Tribe started last season on a 30-15 tear and this season 26-18, but fell out of first place in drastically different fashions. The young team slowly tapered off after the all star break last year, but was felled by an 11-game losing streak this time around. Grizzled veterans Derek Lowe and Johnny Damon have since been traded to the Yankees and relegated to the minor leagues, respectively Lowe started the season on a hot streak, going 6-1 before the Indians bats went ice cold, but is 2-9 since.

Even if the Indians aren’t competing at the top of the majors, attending a game is something every CWRU student needs to do, and those who stay during the summer often make weekly pilgrimages to Progressive Field. Be careful as the season gets late, the stadium is a magnet for Lake Erie’s midge population. The bugs will often swarm the upper decks and are famous for helping the Indians take down Joba Chamberlan and the New York Yankees in the 2007 American League Divisional Series.

The Indians’ ballpark, previously named Jacobs Field and affectionately referred to as “The Jake,” is located downtown near Tower City and Quicken Loans Arena. Progressive Field can be reached by the Rapid red line or via the Health Line.

Ticket Prices: $8+

Season: Apr. 5 – Oct. 3