December 18, 2014

Elyria
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2007 revisited: No championships but plenty of close calls

In many ways, this was a banner year for Cleveland professional sports.
In other ways, it was a year full of disappointment.
The Indians make it to the American League Championship Series and take a 3-1 lead over the favored Boston Red Sox … with Game 5 at home and ace C.C. Sabathia on the mound … only to lose that game and the next two to be denied their first trip to the World Series in 10 years.
The Browns finally give the fans something to cheer about with an exciting offense, star players and, believe it or not, wins. Ten of them, in fact. But they come up one win … at Oakland, at Arizona, at Cincinnati? … short of making the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
But one team’s story soared above all others, and, even then, ended in disappointment. Still, the Cavaliers’ run to their first NBA Finals was the top story of 2007. And like the Browns and, in some ways, the Indians, they made it further than just about anyone thought they could.
Not even a 4-0 sweep at the hands of the dynasty-in-the-making San Antonio Spurs could ruin how good the Cavs’ season made everybody feel.
In the end, that’s really what 2007 was about: great runs, surprising seasons and learning to live with coming up a bit short.
We also saw it with Ohio State as both the football and basketball teams made it to the national championship game, only to lose … both times to their new nemesis, the Florida Gators.
And now the Buckeyes are back with another shot at a title.
Even locally, the Elyria High softball team’s amazing run to a second consecutive Division I state final ended in a loss, though who could be upset with back-to-back runner-up state finishes?
Avon Lake football bounced back after a down season to go undefeated, though the Shoremen probably thought their season ended too soon, as dreams of a second state title danced in their heads as the season went on.
Even in motorsports, Elyria professional drag racer Dave Connolly had a year for the ages, at one point winning five straight National Hot Rod Association Pro Stock races, but the POWERade points championship eluded him, as he finished third.
Still, being in the hunt and coming close to the promised land became almost expected for area teams.
It was fun to be a sports fan in Cleveland again. And, really, who can be disappointed in that?