The Wrong Advices: Be Glad You Ain't From Cleveland

Pardon us if we didn't have a whole lot of sympathy for New England Patriots fans after their team' 27-13 loss to the Denver Broncos last weekend. Rather, we quite enjoyed hearing them whine about blown pass interference calls, and moan about how the Pats wouldn't win their fourth Super Bowl in five years. Boo-hoo.

And pardon us if we didn't feel bad seeing the Chicago Bears have their Super Bowl hopes dashed by Steve Smith and the Carolina Panthers. Bears fans' cries that the refs blew it by not calling a delay of game penalty on their own quarterback were particularly pathetic.

Nope, no sympathy at all for these Boston and Chicago fans. We'd tell them to stop whining, but whining has been a trait endemic to Boston and Chicago sports fans for as long as we remember.

How many years were we forced to listen to Boston fan cry about the Curse of the Bambino and the woebegone ways of the Red Sox. So the Red Sox didn't win a World Series for 88 years, so what? The 16 NBA titles the Celtics won in the last 50 years-including 11 out of 13 during one stretch-weren't good enough?

Now, the pity-us refrain comes from Chicago fan, who jumps out of his chair at the first opportunity to talk about his sad sack Cubs, and the fact that they haven't won a World Series since 1908. Awwww, poor Chicago fan. Never mind the fact that in the 1980s and 1990s he had a front row seat to the greatest athlete in a generation, Michael Jordan, and cheered him on to six NBA titles. Never mind that the 1985-86 Bears not only won a Super Bowl, but also recorded "The Super Bowl Shuffle," still the greatest-well, actually, the only-rap single produced by a professional sports franchise ("We're not doin' this because we're greedy/The Bears are doin' it to feed the needy." Yeah, OK).

Here' some advices for Chicago fans-and Boston fans-and any other fan who wants to sell a bill of goods about how difficult it' been growing up a sports fan enthusiast in his particular town. Try being from Cleveland.

That' right, baby, the Mistake on the Lake. Without a doubt, Cleveland sports fans have endured more misery than fans from any other city. Out of all the American cities that have at least three major sports franchises-and for the purposes of this exercise only, we'll still call the NHL major-Cleveland has gone the longest without winning a title in any sport. Cleveland last celebrated a sports title 42 years ago-in 1964, when the Browns won the "NFL Championship." It wasn't even called the Super Bowl back then. The last time a Cleveland squad won a title that still exists today was 1948, when the Indians won a World Series.

Boston and Chicago' recent sports histories are rich with the names of legends-Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Red Auerbach; MJ and Scottie, Sweetness, Ernie Banks.

Cleveland? Well, let' see. We've had Bernie Kosar, Craig Ehlo, Cory Snyder. And who can forget Kenny "The Mouse" McFadden, John "Hot Rod" Williams, Charles Nagy, and Andre Thornton. We've also had The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, and "Metcalf up the Middle." One of our proudest moments came when we hosted the infamous "Nickel Beer Night" at old Cleveland Stadium, where for one evening cheap beer and drunken riots triumphed over the national pastime, disgracing both a country and a sport.

Cleveland also had Bill Bellichik. He got fired by the Browns, then went on to win three Super Bowls with the Pats. Manny Ramirez wasn't resigned by the Indians, but did get picked up by Boston, where he led the Sox to their World Series win. When the Cavs eventually do trade LeBron for Nenad Kristic and draft picks, it'll only be a matter of time before the Nets win it all.

Even Bernie Kosar-who to this day remains the most revered athlete in all of Cleveland (and how telling is that?)-even Bernie, after being cut by the Browns in 1993, went on to finish that season by taking the final knee in the Cowboys Super Bowl win over Buffalo-a play which many in Cleveland still believe should have earned him the Super Bowl MVP.

Boston fans, during their World Series draught, at least had the romance of the Curse of the Bambino, a reference to the Sox' sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in the early 1900s. Cleveland fans, meanwhile, are still pissed about the Curse of the Ron-a reference to the 1989 trade that sent Ron Harper to the Clippers for Reggie Williams and Danny Ferry-a trade that nearly sparked riots throughout the City. Harper, naturally, went on to win four NBA titles. The Cavs haven't even been to the playoffs four times since his departure. Cursed, indeed.

And so this weekend, if a Seattle fan starts complaining about how his team has never made the Super Bowl, gently remind him about the Supersonics 1979 NBA title. And if a Pittsburgh fan is upset about his team losing in the AFC Championship game yet again, pat him on the back and remind him about that great 1980 Steelers team that won two consecutive Super Bowl rings.

And any time you feel like bitching about your team' misfortune, just remember that it could always be worse: you could be from Cleveland.


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