Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 comes in, goes out, like a kick in the balls for Cleveland fans

What can be said about 2013 that hasn't been said already? In some ways (looking at you, Indians and Buckeyes), it was a fantastic, yet utterly disappointing year. The Indians stormed to the playoffs on a nine-game winning streak, setting downtown Cleveland (baseball) afire like hadn't been seen in 6 years, on a hot pitching staff and despite some flops in the offensive free agent class. The Buckeyes continued their winning ways, sweeping through the regular season, until they didn't continue that winning way in the Big Ten Championship game, with a BCS title spot within reach.

All-in-all, 2013 turned out to end leaving Cleveland fans with that familiar, post-NYE celebration, bile-taste in their mouths. Consider this jolly stat: between the Browns, Cavaliers, Indians, and Buckeyes, the teams are on a combined 15 game losing streak. Not a single one of those teams ended with a victory. Easy enough to say about a playoff team like the Indians who was in the playoffs, but we're including the Browns stumbling their way to their familiiar space as the laughing stock of the league, and the Cavaliers showing a level of disfunction (on the court) that would be notable if it weren't for the previously mentioned NFL franchise.

The top sports story of the year, however, became the one which just transpired a couple days before the end of 2013, the unceremonious firing of Browns coach Rob Chudzinski after the Browns season-ending loss to the Steelers. I think the general feeling is that nobody is sure whether Chud was the right coach for the Browns, or even a competent NFL coach at all. But it is crystal clear that the Browns--through actions (trading away picks last year, trading Trent Richardson) and inactions (not finding an actual QB to execute the somewhat important position of touching the ball every single offensive possession)--were playing for 2014. With a multitude of draft picks and a few young stars, even fans could grudgingly accept that. And yet, Chudzinski was fired for the sins of the team on the field, leading to an angry coaching staff questioning ownership, a testy media firing questions/three stooges questions at team leadership, and fans alternating gnashing of teeth and disavowing of fanship.

In the meantime, the Cavs parting ways with experiment-gone-wrong Andrew Bynum, the Indians' run likely to be tough to repeat with a dismantled roster, and the Buckeyes playing in yet another BCS bowl without the word "Championship" in it, means 2014 is starting off cloudy, and the sun is not peeking out quite yet.