Not a single sports team I've ever had a rooting interest in has ever won a championship. Unless you count the first Chicago Bulls championship when I was in 6th grade, before I realized that being from Cleveland meant you had to respect Cleveland teams, or you were a front-running sellout.
So I figure I'm MORE than due. And I thought this would be a good time to think about who I want to see win it the most. So this is that list, in order.
One day, this won't just be them celebrating that someone finally had two hits in a game.
Cleveland Indians. And I'm not just saying that because it's baseball season right now. This is my family's team. This is the true Cleveland team (moreso than the Cavs or the new Browns). And there is nothing that compares to the baseball playoffs. The intensity, the swings, everything... this is the ring I want more than any other.
Northwestern football. The odds of Northwestern winning a football national championship in my lifetime have got to be somewhere around three or four million to one. But if they did, that fall and winter would be the greatest of me and my friends' lives. When I was a senior at Northwestern and they went 8-3 (before getting shellacked in their bowl game), it was the best time anyone ever had on campus.
Cleveland Cavaliers. My formative sports fan years happened during the peak of the NBA. And, unlike almost everyone else from my generation, for some reason, I didn't abandon the professional basketball bandwagon during the years when Grant Hill was the biggest star in the league. I watch a lot of Cavs games, always have. The Cavs' playoff run last year was incredible. So if they win, I feel like I'll really, personally, be excited.
Cleveland Browns. I really like pro football. But unlike most Clevelanders, I still can't get over the fact that these aren't the real Browns. This is an expansion team that paid a few million dollars to buy a franchise's history. So if they win, it'll be great for Cleveland and I'll be excited, definitely. But, in truth, it's an expansion team. And, until recently, they played like one.
Northwestern basketball. Somehow, there are even worse odds of this happening than the Northwestern football one. I have no idea how a Big Ten school can have a basketball team that's never even accidentally found its way into the NCAA tournament. Seriously. Zero tourney appearances ever. In history. Northwestern State has made the tournament. It's mind boggling.
Indiana Pacers. When I was in middle school, when the Pacers would come to Cleveland, they'd work out at the Jewish Community Center (JCC). This is big for me, since most of the highlights of my basketball career happened on the floor of that JCC. (My basketball skills tend to match up best against other Jews.) So, back then, I got to meet the Pacers, talk with them, all that. And it stuck with me.
U.S. Men's Basketball Team. I was such a sucker for the Dream Team back in 1992. I even had the shirt with caricatures of all of them. Good to see Chris Mullin on there, by the way. During the Olympics, I'd like to see them do well again. European-style basketball has really started pissing me off. Who cares if you can pass and shoot? Fast break dunks, endless dribbling and over-committing off your man for flashy steals -- THAT'S basketball.
U.S. Men's Soccer Team. During the last World Cup, I found myself not only watching the games... but actually really cheering for the U.S. Trust me, no one is more shocked by that than I am.
Beachwood High School football. I went to a tiny high school in suburban Cleveland that was 85% Jewish... and a public school. We were decent at golf and model United Nations. Not so much (real) sports. Of all the teams on this list of 11, this one actually has the longest odds. And that's saying something.
St. Bernard Vikings High School football. For a brief period back in 2003, I lived in Gabe's living room in Playa del Rey, California. Playa del Rey is one of the most obscure communities in the greater L.A. area, right up there with Mar Vista, Palms and Sun Valley. There was a high school walking distance from Gabe's house called St. Bernard. And one Friday night, we decided to walk to one of their games.
They weren't particularly good... in fact, they were sort of the opposite. But they had an awesome Viking mascot with an oversized head and a band that played the music from World 1-2 in Super Mario Bros. And if that doesn't make you a fan, then nothing will.
Team Discovery Channel. Let me tell you a tale about Nelson, and the boy he loved so dear. They became the best of friends for years and years and years. Spring forth, burly protector. Spring forth.
This post was originally published on Friday, June 13, 2008 at 02:21:46 AM under the category Sports.