In a previous article looking at the top fan markets of a given year, TheSportsNotebook discussed the dominance of Florida Gators’ football and basketball through 2006 and into the spring of 2007. And how much of that came at the expense of the Ohio State Buckeyes, as Ohio State lost national titles to Florida in two sports in three months’ time to open calendar year 2007.
It turns out that wasn’t all the near-misses the people of Ohio, especially on the Cleveland side of the state would endure. The 2007 Cavaliers, Indians and Browns all mastered the art of the near-miss.
In the NBA, the Cavs made the Finals before coming up short. The Indians were within one win of the World Series before dying. And the Browns were in the hunt for a long-sought playoff berth before spitting the bit at the end.
What made it worse was that the bright futures all three teams seemed to have were shattered. LeBron James’ Cavs had three straight great regular seasons, but never made it back to the Finals, and LeBron eventually gave up and went to Miami. The Indians fell apart and traded pitchers C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee and then watched those two pitchers start Game 1 of the 2009 World Series for the Yankees and Phillies respectively. And the Browns…well, they returned to being the Browns.
In spite of it all, you can still argue for Cleveland as the top fan market of the year, even without a championship. Boston has a good case, with the Red Sox winning the World Series, and the Patriots reaching the Super Bowl after a historic 16-0 regular season.
Whichever market you think wins the argument, we talked about Boston in both 1978, for its agony, and 2004, for its ecstasy. Let’s share the love a little bit and devote 2007 to Cleveland, a year that saw them just miss.
Read more about the 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers
Read more about the 2007 Cleveland Indians
Read more about the 2007 Cleveland Browns