Until June 19 2016, Cleveland was the punchline of the sports world. The Browns had cycled through every quarterback from Tim Couch to Johnny Manziel, the Indians had gotten tantalizingly close to a World Series berth but never got over the hump, and the Cavaliers, until recently, lost LeBron James and faded to mediocrity. It shouldn’t be necessary to restate the pure hell Cleveland fans sat through in 1987 when they watched John Elway and the Denver Broncos carve their defense for a game-winning drive in the AFC Championship, or when the Indians won the division title six times in seven seasons from 1995 to 2001 and failed to make it to the damn World Series. Or, how could we forget when the Cavaliers lost game seven of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals after being up 20 points in the fourth quarter? Here’s the thing, that last one didn’t even actually happen, but you probably believed it, because it would’ve been so f*cking Cleveland.
However, all of that changes today. Today, Cleveland is the beacon of the sports world. Fans will flood the streets to celebrate the raising of the NBA Championship banner, and the Indians will host Game 1 of the World Series. A giant paper bag will be put over the Cleveland Browns; they’re another problem for another day. Cleveland is no longer the laughingstock of the sports world.
So, if Cleveland is off the hook now, who do we laugh at? The Browns are almost bad enough to keep making fun of Cleveland, but not quite. It’s not fair to make fun of a city with one or two professional teams. The Chargers and Padres might suck, but if San Diego had a basketball team, maybe they’d run house. You never know. Also, big market teams who are awful get laughed at even more. This, my friends, is why the awful sports city title goes to two big cities – to share.
First off, there’s Washington. Sure, the Redskins used to be good, but millennials have a short attention span and they haven’t won anything since 1992. As for the other three professional teams? Well, the Capitals went from being the worst team in the NHL to a great team who chokes in the playoffs every year. The Wizards won a title when they were the much cooler and much more successful Washington Bullets, long before Gilbert Arenas kept a pistol in his gym bag. Now, they are struggling to make the playoffs, and they didn’t even get a meeting with Kevin Durant in the offseason. The Nationals just lost in the NLDS to the Dodgers, continuing their long trend of being a disappointment in the postseason. If one of these teams can get their head out of their ass long enough to live up to their potential, Washington could have something. However, until then, they are forced to look into the television at their awful teams and ask themselves, “you like that?”
Joining Washington in their misery is Atlanta, who hasn’t had anything to write home about since the 90s Braves. Last year, the Falcons started 5-0 and somehow missed the playoffs, so don’t trust them until they win a playoff game. The current Atlanta Braves just finished 68-93, and don’t appear to have a direction. The Atlanta Hawks lost Al Horford and replaced him with Dwight Howard; expect him to leak complaints about his role with the team by mid-December. Atlanta used to have a mediocre hockey team, but they moved to Winnipeg. It’s hard to tell exactly who has it worse out of these three teams, but unless the Falcons surprise us all, Atlanta doesn’t have much to look forward to.
It is unclear who has it worse between Washington and Atlanta, but one thing is for sure: with a paper bag over the Browns tonight, Cleveland can rejoice in the fact that they are no longer the laughingstock of professional sports.