As the Indians took on the Chicago Cubs in game one of the World Series on Tuesday, Cleveland fans were grappling with a new and not unpleasant reality — when it comes to sports, they’re not losers anymore.
In June, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA finals and ended the city’s 52-year major championship drought.
And while the Cleveland Browns football team are off to yet another horrendous start and have yet to win a game this season, the Cleveland Monsters, a popular minor league hockey team, have been living up to their name and had an 11-game winning streak going until Saturday night.
Also, a local Cleveland mixed martial arts fighter named Stipe Miocic successfully defended his title as the heavyweight champ of the Ultimate Fighting Championship — giving the local sports fans yet another reason to cheer.
Finally there are the Indians, a baseball team that has not won a World Series since 1948, although it came close in 1995 and 1997.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Tim Warsinskey, managing editor of the venerable Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. “We’re not wallowing in the lack of success the Browns are having, we’re still reveling in the Cavaliers winning the championship and the success the Indians have been having.”
For Warsinskey, the success of Cleveland’s sports teams have coincided with the rebound of a much-maligned rust-belt city that critics have derided as the “Mistake on the Lake” but which nearly 400,000 Ohioans proudly call home.
“We call it the year of Cleveland,” said Warsinskey, who noted that the city’s hosting of the Republican National Convention was a roaring success for Cleveland, if not for the GOP. “It gave us a way to show off out downtown and all the improvements that have been made.”
Until King James helped Cleveland win the NBA crown, the Cleveland Indians suffered with its own variation of the infamous curse that has dogged the Cubs, and which Chicagoans insist is the reason why their beloved Cubbies haven’t won a World Series since 1908.
It’s alternately called The Curse of Chief Wahoo, which is the controversial caricature of a Native American logo that adorns the Indians’ caps, and The Curse of Rocky Colavito, after the home run hitter that the team unwisely traded away to rival Detroit back in 1960.
And both have been blamed for the Indians’ failure to win the World Series.
Of course, the Indians’ championship drought is chump change compared to the 108 years of agonizing futility Cubs fans have had to contend with.
Many of the Cubs faithful blame the more than century of failure on management’s decision to not allow Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis to bring his pet goat into Wrigley Field for a 1945 World Series game — even though he bought the damn goat a ticket.
“Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more,” Sianis purportedly said at the time.
To ensure the Cubs’ sad streak continues, Indians fan Alan Mancuso brought not one but two goats to Progressive Field, home of his beloved Indians, on Sunday to hex the Cubs some more.
"Everyone was really excited that I did it," Mancuso told The Plain Dealer. "Especially those that know about the curse."