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Cleveland Is on Track to Become a Sports Powerhouse

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Last week, 1.3 million people flooded the streets of Cleveland for the city’s first championship parade in 68 years. (The Browns never threw a parade after their 1964 title. Per Cleveland.com, “The general feeling was, we’ll be back.”) Fresh off beating the Warriors in the NBA Finals, J.R. Smith and the Cavaliers were naturally the main attraction. LeBron said “motherfucker”; the mayor forgot Tyronn Lue’s name; and Tristan Thompson clowned Draymond Green. Everyone had a blast turning up for the Cavs — especially Machine Gun Kelly.

Those who watched the parade in its entirety might have noticed a float — and a trophy — that had nothing to do with the Cavs, though. The Lake Erie Monsters, champions of the American Hockey League, were able to parade the Calder Cup through Cleveland. Indeed, if we’re counting minor league hockey teams, the Monsters actually broke the infamous Cleveland curse back on June 11:

(Note: Cleveland’s indoor soccer team, the Crunch, won three NPSL titles in the 1990s. While their championship highlights are recommended viewing, no one in Cleveland thinks of them as curse-breakers.)

Still, the Monsters didn’t even bring Cleveland its first championship of 2016. In May, Northeast Ohio native Stipe Miocic knocked out Fabricio Werdum to claim the UFC heavyweight title. Fittingly, Miocic led the Cavs’ parade:

The parade was so big that it almost caused some Indians players to arrive late for their game that night. No matter: The Tribe ended up beating the Rays handily, 6–1, and they haven’t slowed down since. In fact, with last night’s 5–3 victory over the Braves, the Indians have won 11 games in a row, extending their AL Central lead to six games. Their run differential of +88 is tops in the league, as is their team ERA of 3.51. Baseball Prospectus has given them a 96.5 percent chance to reach the postseason — and an AL-leading 18.7 percent chance to win the World Series. It’s now officially in play: Cleveland could enjoy another championship parade before year’s end.

They say pitching wins championships, and the Indians boast one of the most formidable rotations in all of baseball. Former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber has a WHIP of 0.98, best in the AL, while Danny Salazar’s WAR of 3.6 (per Baseball-Reference) is tied for second among all pitchers. Trevor Bauer has risen from the dead (read: bullpen) to deliver on the potential that once made him a blue-chip prospect. Moreover, the Indians’ UZR of 21.2 is good for fourth in MLB, and their lineup has hit better than anyone expected, a development that’s especially surprising given that All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley has spent nearly the entire season on the DL. After the otherworldly Cubs, the Tribe might be the most complete team in baseball.

With the potentially disastrous Republican National Convention coming to town and Cody Kessler’s Browns still in existence (feel the excitement!), it’s only a matter of time before Cleveland takes an L. But in the meantime, grab yourself a J.R. Smith tattoo shirt, set a river on fire, and prepare for the possibility of a World Series parade on the North Coast. I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s glorious, so let’s just enjoy the ride and ask questions later.