This is the inaugural post of Cleveland Championship Watch. Every week we will be talking about the week in Cleveland sports and hopefully providing a little bit of entertainment. We will rank the three professional sports teams in order of which stands the best chance to deliver the long-awaited prize of a championship. For kicks, we will also assign a number value out of 100 to scale how close (or far away) they might be.
3. Cleveland Indians (35/100) – It is that time of year again. In the Eric Wedge era, this time of year generally involves a team getting red hot when the lights are no longer shining on the team. Obviously this season is long gone, and there are enough question marks about next year that I have to rank the Indians dead last this week. Still, it is tough to rank a team last when they have enough talent to win five out of their last six games.
2. Cleveland Browns (45/100) – Now, you might be wondering, “How on earth can you possibly rank the Cleveland Browns second after a 4-12 season?” I can do it simply because Cleveland is a football town. The team is coming off an awful year, but they haven’t played a game yet. And in Cleveland the most promising moment for Browns fans is before the first loss is recorded on the books.
They are coming off a victory in the preseason in the “Great Lakes Classic” over the Detroit Lions. In addition all the talk of a QB controversy has us fooled into believing (again) that we might have two decent quarterbacks rather than none. Talk to me after Week 1 vs. the Vikings and Brett Favre and I might be back to believing the Browns have no quarterbacks on the roster at all. Except maybe for Josh Cribbs. He played QB in college, and he rules, so that has to count for something, right? Right?
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (95/100) – The Cleveland Cavaliers are clearly the closest to a championship right now. That doesn’t mean there aren’t question marks. This week the speculation started that Shaq and Cleveland might not be a marriage made in heaven. A lot of people are focusing on the lack of communication between Shaq and LeBron thus far:
Personally, the fact that the two players have not exchanged more than a few text messages does not concern me. It has become pretty obvious that each man has quite a schedule during the offseason; O’Neal with his television shows and endorsements, James with the release of More Than a Game as well as his new shoe line. I would love to find a team that hangs out together socially all summer long after spending the previous nine months together.
And while the marriage may not last long, the move was still relatively low risk for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Danny Ferry made the move by unloading Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. In bringing Shaq back to town, if it fails miserably, he still has a chance to trade Shaq’s $20 million expiring contract before the trade deadline this year if he needs to cut and run away from the Big Aristotle.
That flexibility, willingness to maneuver and willingness to spend into the stratosphere above the luxury tax mark makes the Cleveland’s best hope for this year at least. And I just don’t have the strength today to talk about LeBron James’ contract situation.
There will be plenty more opportunities to discuss that and much much more as we move along with the Cleveland Championship Watch.