Now that our series on some of the biggest Cleveland sports stories has run its course, we wanted to take a couple of minutes to thank a few people.
First off, Rich and Brian from The Cleveland Fan. We didn’t give them any warning about what we were writing and when we dropped off a four-part, 14,000-plus word post it would have been easy for the two of them to run from the room screaming. But they were on board and worked to get a good distribution schedule set up with some good results for the site.
We originally came up with the idea for the column in February while on a StairMaster at the gym (it’s amazing the clarity you can find while doing something as mind-numbingly boring as walking up an imaginary flight of stairs). We jotted down some notes, subsequently lost them, and created a new list while on a drive back from Chicago (long car trips = imaginary staircases).
We knew what we wanted to do with the column but weren’t sure how to frame it, but that night at the Indians game really did give us the inspiration on how to tie the whole thing together.
Second, thanks to the Waiting for Next Year guys (Andrew, Rick, Scott and Craig), Peter at Cleveland Frowns and Rich for helping us determine when blogs and fan sites really took off in Cleveland. We always knew where we were going to start but the end date was a bit of a question at first. We thought 2004 was a good year to pick, but having them confirm that year was a big help.
And to answer a question we’ve heard a couple of times: yes, we know the Internet existed before 2004 and that there were some fan sites around Cleveland in the 1990s. But with no smartphones, tablets or social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, there is simply no way the level of fan interaction was the same.
Big thanks to authors Terry Pluto and Jonathan Knight. While we are generally pretty good about remembering dates and events, without their collected works on Cleveland sports, this series would have been a lot harder to pull together. Having reliable resource material was a huge help. If you haven’t read any or their books yet, you really should.
Finally, thanks to the Browns, Indians and Cavs for providing us with enough material over the past 40 years (both good and bad) to make something like this possible. We easily could have made this a Top 50 list and had plenty of leftover material.
Looking back on the 20 items we selected, it’s interesting that nine of the items related to the Indians, seven were about the Browns and four were about the Cavs. We didn’t think about the breakdown while writing and were surprised after the fact when we totaled the numbers, especially with Cleveland being a Browns town and all.
There are probably a few things we would have changed if we were doing this over. The items on Bernie Kosar being released and Joe Tait being fired were probably to micro; they were really subsets of what were much larger stories. In Tait’s case, that could have worked better in the Ted Stepien piece; Kosar should have been part of a longer item on Bill Belichick’s tenure as Browns coach.
Having history on our side helped elevate at least one of the stories. While it’s never a good idea to trade young, talented pitchers, there’s no way anyone involved with the Indians could have known that Dennis Eckersley would go on to have the career he did; but it still made for a good story. On the flip side, however, the Ron Harder deal will never not be a bad trade.
Overall we were pleased with the way the whole series came out and, if you read it, hope you enjoyed it.