“Ich bin ein Clevelander”

June 18, 2016
I’ve lived all of my life in Southwestern Ohio, bouncing back and forth between Dayton and Cincinnati.  Cincinnati and Cleveland, of course, are bitter rivals when it comes to pro football.  The Bengals and the Browns have been in the same division since 1970.  They’ve played 85 times, and it’s been pretty evenly split – 46 wins for the Bengals, 39 for the Browns.  Adding to the history of the rivalry is the fact that the same man, the legendary Paul Brown, essentially founded both franchises (well, he founded the "original" Cleveland Browns, not the 2nd version that was started up after the first one left for Baltimore, but you get the idea).  Even though they’ve rarely both been good at the same time, it’s still a big rivalry.  Who can forget former Bengals’ coach Sam "Wicky Wacky" Wyche’s famous announcement "You don’t live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati!"?
 
 
Where I currently live, just south of Dayton, you actually can find fans of both teams.  The reason is that, even though the Bengals have existed for nearly 50 years, a lot of families in the area have deep roots that go back to pre-Bengals days, back when the Browns were the only team in Ohio.  Cincinnati is certainly geographically closer (less than a 1 hour drive), but Cleveland’s less than 4 hours away.  My wife and I went to Cleveland for a brief getaway recently, visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and had a good time.
 
When it comes to pro basketball in the area, even though Indiana and Detroit aren’t all that far away either, the Cavaliers are the team of choice.  Sure, we once had pro basketball in the area with the Cincinnati Royals, but that was over 40 years ago, and the team has moved twice – to Kansas City, and then to Sacramento.   The days of Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas, and Jack Twyman have long since passed.
 
So, I am a Cavs fan.  I’ve always rooted for them, going back to the very first season, in the days of coach Bill Fitch, John Johnson and "Bingo" Smith.  I was especially fond of the Lenny Wilkens-led teams of the late ‘80’s/early 90’s – Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Ron Harper, Larry Nance, Craig Ehlo, and (ironically enough) Steve Kerr, although Kerr wasn’t one of their primary stars.  They generally made the playoffs, had a couple of seasons where they won 57 games, and got as far as the Eastern Conference finals, but couldn’t quite get over the hump.
 
One of the things that has gotten a lot of attention this year is the "Cleveland Drought" and the series of "curses" that has plagued the city.  As has been well publicized, it has been more than 50 years since Cleveland’s last major sports championship, the Browns’ NFL championship in 1964.  Well, unless you count the Lake Erie Monsters winning the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup this year.  Recently, ESPN ran its 30 for 30 documentary "Believeland", which chronicles the woes of Cleveland sports over the past half century.  I’m sure you know them well….."The Drive", "The Fumble", "The Shot", "The Decision", "The Move", "Red Right 88", and so on.
 
Despite facing the record-setting Golden State Warriors, the Cavaliers have managed come back from a 3-1 deficit to force a deciding 7th game.  Although none of the games have gone down to the wire, it’s been an intriguing series with lots of drama both on and off the court, with suspensions, flinging of mouthpieces, a Twittering spouse, legendary games by James and Irving, players getting hurt (Love, Bogut, Iguodala).  It’s certainly going to be one of the more anticipated NBA games of recent memory.  
 
I don’t hate the Warriors.  They’re a fun team to watch, although I have to say I can’t stand Draymond Green (he’s a terrific player, but he honestly annoys me to no end).   It’s going to be tough for the Cavs to win a third straight game from the Warriors, especially on the Warriors’ home court.  I suspect the Warriors will win, but I have a clear rooting interest in this series.   Today, I am proud to say "Ich bin ein Clevelander"
 
Since Cleveland is also home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, I thought I would come up with a parody of that iconic American song, "American Pie".  In that spirit, I offer this tribute to Cleveland sports, and the hope that the Cavs find a way to win (otherwise, the ending of my song goes for naught).  So, with apologies to Don McLean, I humbly submit "Cuyahoga Pie":
 
A long, long time ago
I can still remember when Cleveland won, once in a while
The Indians in ’48,
In ’64, the Browns were great
As Jim Brown ran with power and with style
 
But by the banks of the Cuyahoga River,
Cleveland teams have been chopped liver
Fifty years have now passed,
Our spirits have been downcast
 
I can’t remember if I sighed
As I took each title chase in stride
The Shot, The Fumble, and The Drive
They tore….me up…inside
 
So, cheers, cheers to the Cavaliers
It's been dreary up by Erie for the past 50 years
You can sip your wine while I’m downing my beers
As I drink away the last of my tears….
Drink away the last of my tears.
 
Did you like the trade for Love?
And have you found yourself dreaming of
That magical kind of year?
 
Now in the home of Rock and Roll
A title is our common goal
Can’t you sense that the time is near?
 
I was there in ’48 when Feller ruled the mound
Good Kid Boudreau covered lots of ground
Gordon and Hegan sure could field
Bearden and Lemon wheeled and dealed
 
Then in ’54 the Tribe was so sublime
111 wins was a magic climb
But getting swept in the Series was a crime
How did Mays….ever catch…..that ball?
 
So now I’m singing
Cheers, cheers to the Cavaliers
It's been dreary up by Erie for the past 50 years
You can sip your wine while I’m downing my beers
As I drink away the last of my tears
 
Now for 17 years our football team
Has been rebuilt in a different scheme
Since the first Browns left for Baltimore
 
When Art Modell picked up and left
And carried out that awful theft,
It felt like it cut us down to the core
 
And, while we rooted for our new team
The Ravens went and reigned supreme
They grabbed the Super Bowl
And tore out our very soul
 
While we kept searching for new quarterbacks
The ones we had kept getting sacked
Our drafts kept on producing hacks
Can you…believe….Manziel?????
 
So now I’m singing
Cheers, cheers to the Cavaliers
It's been dreary up by Erie for the past 50 years
You can sip your wine while I’m downing my beers
As I drink away the last of my tears
 
In Akron, a new King arrived
Cleveland’s hopes would be revived
Could he be the answer to our prayers?
 
St. Vincent-St. Mary’s was his training ground,
He was the finest player, pound for pound,
With a skill set so diverse, and so rare….
 
And as we watched him on the court,
The finest in his chosen sport
We dreamed he would bail us out,
And end this awful drought.
 
In the lottery the Cavs picked first
No longer would they be the worst
LeBron would surely end the curse
Oh where, is my championship hat?
 
We started singing,
Cheers, cheers to the Cavaliers
It's been dreary up by Erie for the past 50 years
You can sip your wine while I’m downing my beers
As I drink away the last of my tears
 
So there he was now on our team
Times were great, we’re living the dream
They reached the finals in just his fourth year
 
LeBron was great, as he clearly showed
But he had no one to share the load
The Spurs were just better, that much was clear
 
And though they tried, they could not get back,
Not even when they brought in Shaq
The team never seemed to jell
They couldn’t break that title spell
 
And with hopes of a title beyond their reach
The King took his talents to South Beach
We begged and pleaded and beseeched
But he….still had….to go.
 
He was singin’….
Cheers, cheers to the Cavaliers
It's been dreary up by Erie for the past 50 years
You can sip your wine while I’m downing my beers
As I drink away the last of my tears
 
I met a fan from Shaker Heights
And asked about this awful plight,
But he just frowned, and turned away
 
So I went down to Old Brooklyn, too
Where I had seen Drew Carey, by the Zoo
But he didn’t know just what to say
 
And in the streets, the fans all asked
Would Love score, and could Irving pass?
And could LeBron still lead them?
Would he shoot or just feed them?
 
And the 3 icons we love the most
Feller, Brown, and Otto’s ghost
Watched game 7 on the West Coast
I hope...they win....it all
 
Then, they'll be singin'........ 
 
Hail, Hail to LeBron and the team
No more losing now we’re cruising and we’re starting to beam
From Parma up to Euclid you can hear all the screams,
The nightmare’s over and we’re living the dream
 
Go Cavs!
 
 
 
 

COMMENTS (17 Comments, most recent shown first)

Zamboni88
Great article. The view from Cloud 9 here in The Land is wonderful, if I do so say myself.

Chuck, according to my admittedly possibly incorrect research, San Diego has now suffered the most pro sports wise, having gone 116 major pro team seasons since December 1963 when the Chargers won the AFL. Next comes Buffalo, who has had 113 team seasons since the Bills won the AFL in 1965, Minnesota at 92 team seasons since the Twins won the Series in 1991, Washington DC having gone 85 team seasons since the Redskins won the Super Bowl in January of 1992, and rounding back to Cleveland, Atlanta has gone 74 team seasons since the Braves beat the Indians in the 1995 World Series. All figures according to my own research and mistakes cheerfully corrected.
5:29 PM Jun 23rd
 
MarisFan61
.....I see that the Youtube link in the post below doesn't work - sorry!
Let me try it again; if it doesn't work this time, I'll give up, but.....in that case I think it will be possible to get to that page by copy/pasting the address into the address bar.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhR8GZ_WWMM
10:53 PM Jun 21st
 
MarisFan61
Dan: We were typing at the same time. I did my last post before seeing your next one.

You're right about there being different views of what "Chevy to the levee" meant. I know that, but I'm choosing to believe the New Rochelle meaning, because I like it. :-)

I'm old enough to have heard Dinah Shore sing that Chevy commercial (many times), and I never realized "levee" is in there. I'm not good at hearing lyrics, so all I ever really heard or remembered was the opening line.

I looked on youtube to see if they have Dinah Shore singing that song, to see if I'd be able to hear the lyrics. They do, and I was -- and it does have Chevy and levee.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhR8GZ_WWMM .....and yeah, it could well have been a reference to that.
10:50 PM Jun 21st
 
MarisFan61
Dan: Good point about Green Bay and Milwaukee.
Having lived there, I think it's a good guess (although my time there was just early in the Brewers' history) that Milwaukeeans feel an even greater identification with the Packers than with the Brewers or the Bucks, maybe even more than both of those others combined. I don't think they feel like they haven't won anything since the Bucks in 1971.​
10:40 PM Jun 21st
 
DMBBHF
Hi MarisFan,

Thanks for the kind words on the article.

Regarding "levee", I've heard different interpretations on that. One of the things about McLean is that he's been kind of coy and evasive when it comes to explaining a lot about the lyrics. Many of them are open to different takes. I've heard people reference "The Levee" as a bar in New Rochelle, where McLean's from. There was also a Chevrolet commercial that Dinah Shore used to perform that mentioned Chevy and levee, so it might have been a reference to that song, as the song is chock full of lyrics lifted from other songs of that period. Many of the other lyrics in the song have been hotly debated. The cool thing is that he really hasn't confirmed or denied much of any the speculation....he just lets people interpret as they see fit.
10:39 PM Jun 21st
 
DMBBHF
Thanks for all the kind words everyone.

Chuck,

Interesting question. I think the answer depends how you define it. That is, is it the longest SINCE the last championship (which implies having won one before), or the longest WITHOUT a championship (meaning that the city needn't have won one before).

I did read a couple of sources, and if you don't have the stipulation that you have to have won one before, it could be San Diego. The Chargers go back to 1961 (in San Diego....they played 1960 in LA), although the Chargers did win the 1963 AFL title in pre-Super Bowl days.. The Padres have never won it all. So, it depends on whether or not you count the AFL title.

Do you count Buffalo? The Bills have never won a Super Bowl, but they won consecutive AFL titles in '64 and '65.

Milwaukee has the Bucks and the Brewers. The Bucks last won in 1971. But, Milwaukee has a "but" also. Do you count Green Bay? It's clearly a different city, but I suspect Milwaukee rejoiced when the Packers won the Super Bowl a few years back.

Another source cites Cincinnati, which has the Bengals (never won) and the Reds (last won in 1990). So, it might just shift from one Ohio city to another.

So, it depends on what area(s) a "city" covers, and whether or not a drought depends on having previously won the "major" championship or not.




10:34 PM Jun 21st
 
flyingfish
Congratulations, Daniel. I am not a Clevelander, although I think it's a beautiful and underrated city, and I am not a basketball fan, but I nonetheless am enjoying this result.
10:09 AM Jun 20th
 
Steven Goldleaf
Congrats, Daniel. I was torn, which meant i enjoyed the game. Whoever was winning, i was happy, and both teams kept exchanging the lead all night. Best game I watched all year.Enjoy the feeling.
7:53 AM Jun 20th
 
MarisFan61
A bit off the subject, but.....
On Bill's recent articles, I mentioned the thing of players whose race is hard to know unless we google it or something.
Folks, I give you Tyronn Lue. :-)
I don't think anybody much knows, or cares.

I learned tonight that he's from a town called Mexico, in Missouri.
I'd love to see what Trump would make of all this....
1:22 AM Jun 20th
 
MarisFan61
Loved the article, loved the whole comeback, and especially loved tonight.
Very happy for Cleveland, and also don't mind seeing all the know-it-all-cognoscenti-pundits who so surely gave the Cavs no chance be wrong.
(That's an awfully written sentence but I hope it's clear enough.) :-)

And, I love "American Pie." I wasn't much familiar with it till way after it first came out, when a favorite stand-up comic (Dennis Wolfberg) was using it as a sort of theme song in his act. Besides how touching it was to learn the meanings of the various references in it, the song has since become more meaningful to me because one of the referenced places ("the levee") is right near me and I pass it several times a week. I also had the chance to hear Don McLean do the song 'live' last year, in a long version, in a concert in the Berkshires (Massachusetts).
12:15 AM Jun 20th
 
chuck
Congrats, Dan! What a terrific game and result for the long-suffering fans in Cleveland.
Hey- which city has now gone the longest without a championship team?
12:06 AM Jun 20th
 
villageelliott
Congratulations from a Golden State Warriors fan. Your Cavs won it fair and square. Le Bron has sealed his legacy as the greatest sports hero on the shore of Lake Erie since Jim Brown parachuted into France. I imagine Cleveland's celebratory release that has been building for fifty years will match the intensity of Oakland's forty year wait last year, the Giants' first San Francisco title in 2010, and the Granddaddy of All Bay Area Celebrations, the first Forty Niners' Super Bowl Parade in 1982. Enjoy it, you deserve it.

I wrote this poem somewhat tongue-in-cheek last year. I updated it with a PS

A Tale of Two Schnieds
The Village Elliott: 5/15


Read poems of two teams by losing tied;
First the Cubs, pride of Chi’s Near North Side,
Tribe kicked in by Lou’s “Toe”,
Each their league’s longest woe,
Teams with Game’s longest World Series’ schnied.

Cubs, Chi’s Senior Circuit long-time pride
Has the games longest gonfalon schnied,
T. R. refused to run
Year the Cubbies last won,
Tribes last won three years post Cubs last tried.

Rooting for Cleveland teams must be rough,
In my lifetime town's Tribe's lacked Right Stuff;
Finish thrice AL first,
Series lost, fans’ dream burst,
To keep faith must be mentally tough.

Cleveland Browns quite a curious case,
Two leagues first score years, eight times win race.
Since then Rock, Brown leave town,
Dreams, then Browns, too; fans frown,
Dream reborn, though new Browns lack Brown's grace.

'Forty Eight: Cleveland's Tribe last won crown.
'Sixty Four: Browns won running Jim Brown,
Year "A Man I Became,"
Town last won title game;
Fifty year legacy: Fans Let Down!"

PS: (6/19/16)

On June Nineteenth, Two Thousand-Sixteen,
One Great NBA Game Seven’s seen:
Now Cleveland’s not cryin’
Since “Trophy O’Brien”
King James won on Stephen Curry’s scene.


11:28 PM Jun 19th
 
DMBBHF
Thanks, Studes. And congrats to Cleveland. After all the blowouts in the series, it was quite a change to see a game come down to the wire. For a lot of the game, it was tough to me to watch, it was so nerve-racking. So there's a sense of both relief of joy...but I'm certainly happy for the people of Cleveland.
10:13 PM Jun 19th
 
studes
And win, Cleveland. Congrats, Dan.
9:59 PM Jun 19th
 
chuck
I will be rooting for them tonight. It would really be something if both the Cavs and Cubs could win it all this year and not have Lucy pull the football away again.
1:18 PM Jun 19th
 
MattGoodrich
Using the song American Pie dates you. But I know it well - I was able to 'sing' your version in my head.

I grew up in Columbus and was a Reds/Bengals fan. But many people cheered for both teams largely because both teams were bad almost all of the time. Cheering for two teams give you a better shot at finding a good one.

In 45 seasons there were only 5 times when both the Bengals and Browns finished above .500. In the last 65 years only 9 times did both the Reds and Indians finish above .500 at the same time. Head-to-head rivalry games almost NEVER meant anything.

I'm not a particular Cavalier fan but I'd like to see Cleveland finally win something. They're due.

2:21 AM Jun 19th
 
studes
Perfect.
4:33 PM Jun 18th
 
 
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