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Cleveland Sports Finals Notes

October 25, 2016

Tonight, when the Indians host the Chicago Cubs in game 1 of the 2016 World Series, it will be the first time in nine major sports league finals series, a Cleveland team will open such a series at home.

Cleveland teams, the Indians (1-4) and the NBA Cavaliers (0-3), coincidentally, whose 2016 title is being honored tonight, are a collective (1-7) in finals series openers, having lost seven straight.

The teams are a combined (3-5) in those finals series, the Indians (2-3) with 3 straight losses and the Cavs (1-2), having won the last one.

Cleveland (Indians) won both the W.S. opener and the best of 9 series vs Brooklyn in 1920 but the Indians and Cavs (at both Boston and Atlanta vs the Braves, at the Golden State Warriors twice and once each at New York vs the Giants, at Florida vs the Marlins and at San Antonio vs the Spurs) have combined to lose 7 straight finals openers, the last three by the Cavs.

The football Browns led by two of the greatest players ever, a case can be made for the two greatest ever, first Otto Graham and then Jim Brown played in a one game “final” for the NFL crown, nine times going (4-5).

Incredibly the Browns led by quarterback Graham were in the NFL title tilt in their first 6 NFL seasons after winning the crown all four seasons in the All American Football Conference. Cleveland split those 6 games, winning at home in 1950 and 1954, losing at home in 1952.

They lost on the road in both 1951 and 1953, winning in Graham’s last game in 1955.

Led by Jim Brown, Cleveland played in 3 title games, the home team winning all of them. They lost at Detroit (Lions), the team they faced from (1952-1954), ending Jim Brown’s first season in 1957. Green Bay won the first of what still is an unprecedented 3 straight NFL finals games at home vs the Browns in what Jim Brown’s last game of a great career, played after the 1965 season.

Eleven Green Bay defenders keyed on and contained Brown on a muddy, call it dirty field that day at Lambeau Field. Soon after Brown teamed with 11 others to form “The Dirty Dozen” in a superb movie with the same name.

Until the Cavs’ title a scant 4 monthes ago, the home 1964 title game win by the Browns vs the John Unitas led Baltimore Colts, was the last Cleveland title.

For the record, the Indians also won the World Series in 1948 vs the Boston Braves before losing to the Giants in ’54, the Atlanta Braves in ’95 and the Marlins in ’97. The Cavs split vs Golden State, winning in 2016, having lost the year before. In LeBron James’ first stint as a Cavaliers’ player, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Cavs in the 2007 NBA finals.

The three other Browns’ title tilts were vs the L.A. Rams, coincidentally back in Tinseltown, as of this season. Cleveland won at home in 1950 as Lou Groza’s short field goal was decisive and at L.A. in 1955. A Norm Van Brocklin 73 yard touchdown strike to Tom Fears was decisive as the Rams won at L.A. in 1951. Another coincidence, the lone St. Louis Rams’ title that in the 1999 season also featured a 73 yard touchdown pass that produced the Rams’ last points and victory margin. It went from Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce.

 

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