At least we're not Detroit!
It has been suggested by some that no matter how rough things got around Cleveland, the city could always adopt the motto of “At least we’re not Detroit”. While that adage still rings true on many fronts, the world of Cleveland sports has a long way to go before they can embrace that mentality.
Let’s start with the most comparable sport, football. The Detroit fans, fed up with years of losing and ineptitude, have abandoned the team in recent years. This abandonment has been seen in the form of the “Millen man march” which came as a plea from the fans to fire long-time GM Matt Millen. The fans even stopped buying tickets last season, which left the beautiful Ford Field looking quite empty at times. The fans stood up and let the Ford family know they were sick and tired of losing. The owners responded by overhauling the entire organization by bringing in a new head coach, GM, logo, and face of the franchise in Matthew Stafford. Browns fans have responded with years of losing and ineptitude by selling out every game. While owner Randy Lerner has more goodwill with the fans thanks to his quick reactions to fire losing coaches and general managers, the fans still have not recognized the flawed structure of the organization and continue to embrace the Browns like they are perennial winners. The Browns may have overhauled their organization as well, but those changes have not garnered the positive reviews and feelings, both locally and nationally, that the Lions have. Detroit 1. Cleveland 0.
On the college football front, Ohio State clearly has the edge on the University of Michigan in pretty much every facet imaginable. The problem here is Ann Arbor is a short 45 minute drive from Detroit (making it easier for Detroit residents to embrace), while Columbus is much further away as it straddles the redneck border of Southern Ohio. To make matters worse, Cleveland area Ohio State fans can only enjoy Buckeye football so much knowing they have to share it equally with Cincinnati, which is basically a part of Kentucky more than it is Ohio for all intents and purposes. Detroit 2. Cleveland 0.
When it comes to baseball, the Indians and Tigers are far apart. The Tigers had a stretch in the 90’s when they were the joke of baseball. Other than those leas years, the Tigers won a World Series and 1984 and fielded many great teams in the years before that in historic Tiger Stadium. The Indians lean years lasted for nearly forty years before they finally won the pennant in 1995. The glory days ended quickly for the Indians as eight of their last nine seasons have ended without a playoff run. To make matters worse, it’s been 36 years longer on the world championship front. Detroit 3. Cleveland 0.
Cleveland has to have the edge in basketball, right? The Cavaliers are an elite team in the NBA while the Pistons are re-building. Since LeBron entered the league, the Pistons have won a title and took the Spurs to a game seven of the NBA Finals. If you want to look at the history, the Cavs have never won a title, and the Pistons have won three in the past two decades. While the Cavs future may look brighter, provided LeBron sticks around, as it stands right now, the Detroit basketball holds the slight edge when you look at the big picture. Detroit 4. Cleveland 0.
There is no comparison when it comes to hockey. The Red Wings are one of the NHL’s premiere franchises have hosted dozens of banners and hoisted many Stanley Cups. While I think professional hockey would thrive in Cleveland given the right owner, there is currently no competition between the two cities in this realm. Detroit 5. Cleveland 0.
Well, Detroit has won all five major sports categories. I guess all that matters is who has the better fans, right? The Cavs fans are the best in the league, so Cleveland gets the nod there. Baseball fans in Detroit are better, especially considering how they are near the top in attendance despite drawing from a fan base in economic shambles. The final straw is the football fans. This kills me to say it, but I give the edge to the Detroit fans. They were smart enough to stand up and walk out and not sell-out the stadium when they’d seen enough. Cleveland fans took what was once the most feared section in the NFL, the Dawg Pound, and promptly embraced a neutered version dubbed by some the “Yuppie Pound” where young professionals sip on expensive beverages not snuck into the stadium, warm themselves in designer clothes, and talk on their cell phones the entire game to tell people that they are sitting in the “Dawg Pound”. I give Detroit fans two points for this as I’m forever saddened to see how far downhill the Dawg Pound has gone. Detroit 7. Cleveland 0.