Mac Aljancic sports column for November 20th

For all you unlucky Browns fans, I’ll spare you reading (and me writing) another article about this uninspired, underperforming 2022 roster. On the plus side for tonight’s game, it was moved to Detroit due to a Buffalo Blizzard. Unfortunately, the Browns haven’t won a game at the Motor City since 1983.

Despite the Browns’ awfulness, the area’s sports fans have a lot to thank as Thanksgiving nears, especially compared to our less fortunate neighbors.

baseball bounty

The Indians/Guardians have not won a World Series since 1948. As owners, the Dolans love clipping coupons and constantly serving up a meager, frugal ramen noodle list. The recent renaming of the nickname doesn’t make everyone do cartwheels. And losing a 2-1 lead in the playoff series to the hated Yankees was a sour end to a surprise season. Cleveland has lost series-winning opportunities to these high-priced pinstripers five straight years.

Despite those disappointments, the Guardians have consistently thrived as a small ball club thanks to a franchise-changing future Hall of Famer executive in Terry Francona. During his nine-year stint at the Cleveland dugout, he had just one losing season: 2021, when his young team was 50-49 before sitting out the final 63 games due to health issues. The Guardians have made the playoffs in six of those seasons, including this year’s totally unexpected Central Division championship. With the youngest team in MLB and an exciting, hard-working core, the future looks fantastic.

The Pirates have won just 39% of their games over the past four seasons (equaling a 63-99 league season record) and have won just three playoff appearances (2013-15) and four seasons over the past three decades. The Reds have won just five seasons in the last 25 years and won just two playoff games in that span. And the Tigers have won just 39% of their games in the last six seasons.

boy guns

During his 11 seasons as a Cavalier, LeBron James treated us to superhuman moves, playoff pushes, five NBA Finals appearances and one memorable title. Cleveland was terrible during his four-year sabbatical in Miami (.311 win percentage) as well as the three seasons after LBJ left for the Lakers in 2018 (.274). It looked like the Cavs were endlessly wandering through the draft lottery wasteland.

That all changed surprisingly last season, when a talented young core of Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley — cleverly assembled by general manager Koby Altman — began to thrive together, taking their win percentage to .537 and making the playoffs. This year’s off-season trade for All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell brings Cleveland back into the nominee discussions. Youth can bring inconsistencies that have been fully demonstrated so far this season: eight wins in a row followed by five losses in a row. But JB Bickerstaff’s club has great potential.

Beyond the state line there is little of that hope. The Pistons have had just one winning season in their last 14 campaigns and have a 3-13 record so far this year. The Pacers are a feisty franchise, but they haven’t won a playoff series since 2014 and are coming off a 25-57 season.

Best of the Best

College football has become a landscape ruled by just a handful of possessions, which fortunately include the Buckeyes. OSU has dominated the Big Ten for 11 seasons. Their unparalleled conference record of 84-5 since 2012 has allowed them to compete for the national championship almost every year. While last year’s loss to Michigan was disappointing, it brought back some much-needed sparks and mystery to the great rivalry, which has been dampened nationally by Buckeye’s eight straight wins.

Looking at the neighborhood, Michigan’s win last year ended a 17-year Big Ten title drought. Michigan State’s prime would be a disappointment by OSU standards. Penn State lost five conference games in both 2020 and 2021 and has only one conference title since 2009. Indiana and Purdue fans dream of playing in a bowl everyone has heard of. The same is true of Kentucky and West Virginia to the south.

So try to weather those Browns blues and soak up the sun among our other sports teams.

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