Why the Indians blowing a 3-1 lead isn’t the same as the Warriors’ epic collapse

The minute that Game 7 of the 2016 World Series came to an end — and congratulations to the Chicago Cubs for breaking their 108-year-old curse! — the “3-1 lead” jokes started flying.

You probably know that this past summer, the NBA's Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers, breaking Cleveland's title drought and setting up a flood of mockery on Twitter. And in the ensuing months, one could hardly log onto the social media site without seeing someone mention that the Warriors blew that 3-1 lead. Discussing the economy? “3-1 lead” joke. Talking politics? “3-1 lead” joke. Curious about the latest musical selections among your peers? Three. One. Lead. Joke.

Of course, the shoe is on the other foot after Wednesday night's World Series result.

When the Indians failed to close out the Cubs in Game 5, the prospect of Cleveland fans having to eat their own “3-1 lead” jokes became very real — and now, it's time to reap what was sown. Right?

Here's the thing, though: the two situations aren't at all similar.

Okay, yes, there's the arithmetic of it all. 3-1 = 3-1, no matter how you slice it. But what the Cavs did in coming back against the Warriors was truly unprecedented. Not only was Cleveland the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals, but Golden State boasted the game's first unanimous MVP and broke an NBA record with 73 wins in the regular season. By all measures, the Warriors were one of the greatest teams ever, and they choked.

You can justify that failure by pointing to suspensions and injuries, but the fact remains that Golden State's collapse was unparalleled. That was the basis for the jokes — not so much the series loss itself as all of the distaste that surrounded the Warriors in their pursuit of basketball's greatest season.

While similar, the fate the Indians just suffered isn't on that level. We've seen epic comebacks in baseball before; the Cubs became the sixth team in MLB history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the World Series, a feat most recently accomplished by the 1985 Kansas City Royals. Cleveland didn't have the AL MVP or set any records for wins during the regular season. The Indians were a very good baseball team who managed to come up short in the World Series.

Lastly, there's the matter of scale. What the Indians went through this postseason will undoubtedly sting for quite a while, yet it can't really hold a candle to the Boston Red Sox's comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS. In baseball, the drama of that series reigns supreme, even if it wasn't the World Series.

So get those jokes off, Twitter. You can argue that Cleveland fans deserve it, I suppose, if you're feeling vindictive. Turnabout is certainly fair play, but remember — context is your best friend. Sometimes, being the bigger person is the best play.