By: Nick Hawks
“I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.” This quote by The Office’s Andy Bernard, in a rare moment where he wasn’t saying something completely annoying, sums up a lot of our lives. Oftentimes, we fail to realize just how good we have it until something happens that leaves us reflecting on what we lost.
On Oct. 25, 2016, the Cleveland Indians hosted Game 1 of the World Series at Progressive Field on the same evening as the Cleveland Cavaliers opened their 2016-2017 season across the street, while raising the 2016 championship banner, and it was one of those rare moments where you just knew: We’re in the good ‘ole days.
We all know the story. Hometown kid LeBron James leaves the Cavs in 2010 in a nationally televised spectacle, known as “The Decision.” Four years and two championships later, he returns in an even more spectacular fashion, announcing his return in a first-hand account in Sports Illustrated, putting Cleveland on the map in a way it hadn’t been on since the 90s Indians.
In only a way the 2016 Cavs could do, they beat the 73-win Warriors and avenged the 2015 Finals with one of the truly great postseason series in basketball history. We collectively held our breath as a city and watched our team overcome the impossible, ending a 52-year drought.
As for the Indians, they had mostly been flirting with mediocrity since the end of those 90s teams, making the playoffs only twice in 14 seasons. Then, 2016 happened. Corey Kluber became Klubot, Francisco Lindor emerged as the energizer bunny of baseball, and Tyler Naquin threw up the horns after an unforgettable walk-off inside-the-park home run. Naquin’s home run felt like a precursor to something bigger, to a team that had a dramatic flair, to a postseason that could ignite the ghosts of Albert Belle and Omar Vizquel.
These two teams coming together at the exact same time was something incredible not because it was unprecedented, I mean just this year the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Lakers won championships just a few weeks apart. It was incredible because historically, these teams were losers. The Cavs were known best for a commercial of Michael Jordan hitting a series-winning playoff shot. The best thing you could say about the Indians for nearly four decades was the movie Major League was a hit.
Oct. 25 was the day both of those trains collided and it felt for once like Cleveland sports fans were the rich kids of the sports universe. For years we were the Ron Weasleys, getting players past their primes for a quick payday (cough, Andrew Bynum), but finally, we were the Harry Potters, complete with our own version of the chosen one.
I remember the evening pretty clearly. Going to a packed bar with a group of friends, which is now its own nostalgic memory for very different reasons, with everybody bundled in their fall Cleveland attire. Having to stand in the corner because every booth was overflowing, nothing but inebriated friendly chatter filling the atmosphere. Living and working near Cleveland at the time, there was a buzz in the city from the time the Cavs won their title in June until the heartbreaking Game 7 of the World Series in early November. It’s the kind of thing you tell your kids you experienced in your youth that you had to be there to believe, like how my parents told me the Browns of the 1980s were one defensive stop away from going to the Super Bowl. For those five months, we all knew: it has never been any better than this.