I didn’t write anything for days three of four, so here we go on day five.
First, I have to confess that I have already cheated on being sports-free for 30 days. My ESPN boycott is still going strong, though. I haven’t visited ESPN.com or tuned into any of its networks. With the NBA draft only a few days away, I have been checking in on Cavs.com and the forums there to see what fans are saying about the draft. IF the Cavs trade #4 and #24 just to move up to #2, I will be very disappointed. I really hope that doesn’t happen. I like Bradley Beal, but I like MKG more. I think MKG will be there at #4 and I don’t think giving up #24 is worth it to take Beal instead. The rumors I do like are trading Andy and #24 to get another lottery pick. I love Andy, but winning is a few years away. We could potentially get Drummond or Barnes in the lottery by trading Andy. I feel like that would be a better fit for the future than Andy.
Part of the reason I didn’t write anything the past couple of days is because I realized how uneventful the years after LeBron’s rookie season were until the decision. 2007 is an exception when the Cavs shockingly made the Finals and the Indians came so close to the World Series.
The Cavs making the Finals in 2007 truly was shocking. They got lucky with their playoff match-ups (Washington, New Jersey, Detroit) and LeBron played out of his mind in the Detroit series (Game 5, 48 points, the 29 of the team’s last 30 points) to win four straight games after being down 0-2. Winning that Detroit series was the most amazing thing to happen since the Indians made the World Series in 1995. I say ’95 and not ’97 because ’97 was almost expected of the Tribe, the ’95 Indians and the 2007 Cavs were doing something that had not been done in a long time (never for the Cavs) and it was thrilling.
Cavs fans went into the Finals knowing we were outmatched by the Spurs, but the Cavs had swept the season series with San Antonio 2-0. I would like to say we were cautiously optimistic, but after what we saw LeBron do in Game 5 against the Pistons and knowing we had beaten the Spurs twice in the regular season, I was convinced the Cavs could win the series.
Not only did the Cavs not win the series, they didn’t win a game. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2007 Finals go down as one of the biggest mis-matches in Finals history. LeBron James’ skills had nothing against the Spurs teamwork and experience. However, the final two games of the series in Cleveland were close and we believed the experience of getting to the Finals would serve the team well for the coming seasons.
Perhaps the coolest thing about the 2007 Finals was that when the Cavs had their home games, the Indians were also playing at home right across the street. Everything was coming together for the Indians that summer, so downtown was overflowing with excitement those nights. I didn’t get to experience it because I was living in North Carolina that summer, but my friends would go to the Finals game and then across the street to watch the end of the Indians game at Jacobs Field.
The Indians won the Central Division that summer and ended up with the New York Yankees in the first round. It was a joy just to see the Indians in the playoffs again, and just like I convinced myself the Cavs could beat the Spurs, I had convinced myself the Indians had a good shot at putting away the Yankees.
The Indians didn’t disappoint my faith. They smoked the Yankees in Game 1, and Game 2 was a game for the ages. The Indians were being shut down offensively, but Fausto Carmona was pitching a gem to keep them in the game 1-0 in the eighth. Then the midges came (if you hate the Yankees and love seeing their fans in misery, just bring up the midges and Joba Chamberlain). Thanks in part to the pesky bugs, Joba lost his cool and his control allowing the Indians to tie the game without recording a hit (walk, wild pitch, sac bunt, wild pitch). The Indians finally pulled off the thrilling 2-1 victory when Travis Hafner hit a single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th.
The Indians went on to win the series 3-1 and were set to face the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. I was very excited and could taste the World Series. The Indians just handled the Yankees in five games, CC Sabathia was the CY Young winner, Fausto Carmona was untouchable, the bullpen was holding it down, the offense was scoring, heck even Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd were pitching well. It seemed like the return of Kenny Lofton at the end of the season was an omen or the good luck charm that was going to bring Cleveland back to the World Series.
Game one was Sabathia vs. Beckett. It should have been a low scoring nail-biter, but Sabathia didn’t have his control and got rocked. The Tribe was quickly down 1 game to none. Carmona started game two and he had been absolute money for the Indians, so everyone was expecting game two to be a low scoring like game one was supposed to be. It turned out just the opposite. Cleveland won 13-6 thanks to a huge 7-run inning.
Now that the series was back to even anything could happen. The Indians went on to win the next two games to take a 3-1 series lead. History shows that a 3-1 lead is almost as good as having the series won and with Sabathia and Carmona set to pitch games five and six there was no way this series was even going to seven games. Sabathia’s playoff struggles continued in game five and the Indians lost 7-1. Then Schilling handled the Indians line-up and Carmona faltered in a 12-2 loss. The series that was in the bag was now down to game seven at Fenway Park. Game seven went down pretty similarly to games all of the other Indians’ losses in the series, 11-2.
The dream was over and the Indians blew a 3-1 series lead. What was even more frustrating for Indians fans than the fact that our CY Young went MIA in the ALCS was that the NL representative in the World Series was the Colorado Rockies who by many expert opinions had no business being there let alone in the playoffs (see blown call in 1 game playoff against the San Diego Padres for the Wild Card). I think every Cleveland sports fan felt like if the Indians could have gotten that last win against the Red Sox they would have taken the World Series as easily as Boston did in their four-game sweep of the Rockies.
Experiencing 2007 as a Cleveland sports fan you got to feel two really big kinds of sports embarrassment. First you got to be humiliated in a four-game sweep of the NBA Finals. Then you got to experience the frustration of blowing a 3-1 games series lead which NEVER happens.