When 'Factory of Sadness' is a nickname you use for the last franchise to have brought a title to your town, you know it's bad for Cleveland. The city hasn't laid claim to a sports championship since the Browns -- now a league laughingstock -- won in 1964. Among cities with three or more pro teams, that's the longest title drought in American sports. That's awful. Let's discuss why Cleveland deserves a break -- and not just because of the Browns.
Getty ImagesMatt Sullivan
OK, but we have to start with the Browns
Look at these starting QBs. Look at them! The Browns have cycled through 20 or more signal-callers since 1999 -- though it feels more like 200 -- and the team just keeps getting saddled with flameout after flameout. Johnny Manziel, the most recent high-profile pick on the far left? Some feel he'll be lucky if he can be a third option. Tim Couch, on the far right? Considered by many (our website included) as one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history. Poor Brian Sipe, at center? He preceded the Revolving Door Era, but he's responsible for the infamous 'Red Right 88' incident. But why stop there? We could talk about John Elway's 'The Drive,' Earnest Byner's 'The Fumble' or -- most heartbreaking of all -- Art Modell's 'The Move,' and you'd have an inkling of just what this franchise and city have been through.
The Cleveland Indians are even worse
The Indians' last World Series title came in 1948, and it's been downhill since then. We can discuss Willie Mays' 'The Catch,' or even 'The Curse of Rocky Colavito,' but all you really need to know is that the Tribe's historical winning percentage stands around .500 -- pretty much the definition of mediocrity. The team endured a 30-year slump that began in earnest in the '60s and didn't end until the mid-'90s, when they got pretty good -- but never good enough! The Braves beat them in the '95 World Series; the O's beat them in the '96 division series; the Marlins (THE MARLINS!) beat them in the '97 WS (giving us the infamous 'Off Nagy's Glove' moment), and so on. After a 2001 postseason loss to the Mariners, the Indians didn't sniff the playoffs again until 2007. They're still struggling, despite that Sports Illustrated cover.
But the Cleveland Cavaliers have it the worst of all
The Cavs have zero titles and never got over the hump even during LeBron's first tenure there (far left). But the misery started long before The King arrived. Some dude named Michael Jordan broke the Cavaliers' hearts in the 1989 Eastern Conference first round with a basket so magical it's still referred to simply as 'The Shot.' Years later, LeBron led the Cavs to a string of postseason appearances, but it culminated in an inexplicable defeat in the '09-10 Eastern semis during which many accused The King of 'quitting.' LeBron then forced the city (nay, the world) to witness his 'Decision' -- which was to take his talents to South Beach, where he promptly won two titles. The Cavs? They went into a death spiral, losing 26 straight games the season after LeBron left. That's a record (since tied by Philly).
And we won't get started on hockey
Likely to the surprise of many, Cleveland did once have an NHL franchise -- for two years. The Barons played from 1976 to 1978, but ended up merging with a Minnesota team that would later become the Stars, based in Dallas. Mercifully, the Barons' history in Cleveland is so brief that there's little bad to say about it, aside from the fact that Cleveland couldn't retain an NHL team. Here they are, actually celebrating a goal.
NHLI via Getty ImagesSteve Babineau
Despite it all, Cleveland fans remain loyal, devoted and ever-hopeful
Who knows, Cleveland faithful? Maybe Johnny Football will pan out? Perhaps the Indians have enough pitching to make a late push this season (if they can clean up their fielding)? And maybe LeBron James -- who did eventually return to your loving arms, after all -- can make it past Steph Curry and bring home a ring? If The King actually WANTS to play in Cleveland now, anything is possible. Wouldn't hold out much hope for an NHL franchise, though.