Living with a sports curse

By Brian Howard

Atlanta Braves and Falcons fans are so lucky.

For years, the Braves (14 straight division titles) have been the standard in the national league. They've been to five World Series' - 1991, 92, 95, 96 and 99 - yet have only won one.

Perhaps out of all the World Series appearances, Atlanta will be best remembered for Jack Morris and Minnesota winning Game 7 in '91; the upside down Maple Leaf on the Canada Flag in '92 against Toronto and Jim Leyritz's home run in '96 to give the New York Yankees an offensive spark.

But the positives always outway the bad.

The Braves finally won a World Series in 1995 against the Cleveland Indians.

To put some things into perspective, count your lucky stars it was against a Cleveland team.

No Cleveland team has won so much as a championship in the 29 and half years I have been living. Even more importantly, Cleveland teams will tease you for an entire season and come away with nothing.

Heck, I thought Boston fans had it bad with a curse, but nothing compares to Cleveland.

Dubbed as "the mistake by the lake," Cleveland fans have endured nothing but heartache.

There has been, "The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot and now, The Collapse."

Yet, here in Atlanta, I sit and watch NL East Division champion Braves win over and over.

The Falcons went to the Super Bowl against Jon Elway and the Denver Broncos, and had it not been for Eugene Robinson, Atlanta may have won. Instead, the days of an injured Michael Vick could get the Falcons to the big game.

The Atlanta Hawks aren't even close to going to the NBA finals, but then again, does any Atlanta native claim them?

Cleveland fans are the new Boston fans.

Last fall when I watched the Red Sox fall three games to none against the New York Yankees, I thought the curse would continue. Then, the self-proclaimed "idiots" rolled off eight straight wins, coming back from elimination to beat New York, then defeating St. Louis in four straight games to win the whole thing.

The Indians teased Major League Baseball fans for the past two months. They cut a 15-game deficit to just two until the final week and a half, before stumbling to a 1-6 record in its last seven games.

The Indians fans then received the choke sign from Chicago White Sox coach Ozzie Guillen.

Cleveland Browns fans haven't sniffed an AFC title game since returning to the NFL in 1999.

In the end, I will be like those fans at the graveyard after the Red Sox won the World Series last fall. I will be the one weeping at my father's grave and telling him sorry that he missed out on one Cleveland team winning it all.

It has been since 1950 when the Browns won a world championship, beating the then-L.A. Rams, 30-28. My father hadn't even been born yet. The game was played on Christmas Eve and was four days before my father was born.

The Indians haven't won a championship since 1948, beating the Boston Braves, 4-2. Since then, Cleveland played in the series in '54, '95 and '97, losing all three times.

(Brian Howard is a sports writer for the Daily and his column will run weekly on Wednesday's. He can be reached at bhoward@news-daily.com )