Local sports columnist discusses Cleveland fans

” With a morale as low as the economy and angst as high as the unemployment rate, northeast Ohioans often look for an escape from the national economic calamity. The suffering economy is not the only plight experienced by the people in northeast Ohio. The Cleveland Indians have started out the season with one win through the first seven games, the Cleveland Browns are not looking to be any better than last year’s four win team and there has not been a major sports championship won by a Cleveland team since 1964.”

With a morale as low as the economy and angst as high as the unemployment rate, northeast Ohioans often look for an escape from the national economic calamity.

The suffering economy is not the only plight experienced by the people in northeast Ohio. The Cleveland Indians have started out the season with one win through the first seven games, the Cleveland Browns are not looking to be any better than last year’s four win team and there has not been a major sports championship won by a Cleveland team since 1964.

When Cleveland sports fans see a light at the end of the tunnel with the success of the Cavaliers, the national media cannot stop obsessing over the LeBron to anywhere but Cleveland rumors.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer award-winning columnist Terry Pluto, these things are to be expected if you are Cleveland sports fan.

I remember a column that said Cleveland barely edged out Philadelphia for the most abused and tormented sports city, Pluto said. Barely edged them out? We win this thing going away.

Pluto, an area sports writer for over 30 years, believes fans take pride in the lack of success experienced in Cleveland sports.

The drive, the fumble, Red Right 88. for all the things the fans have been through, it’s amazing the connection that people have with their teams. I really believe it’s because we revel in our misery, he said.

Pluto pointed out that the most beloved sports icons in Cleveland sports history have had marginal success, if they had any success at all.

Sam (Rutigliano) has won one or no playoff games. That’s it. And he’s considered this great Browns coach. His record is right around or at .500, but we all love Sam Rutigliano, he said.

According to Pluto, Cleveland sports teams are not required to win in order to be loved.

Pluto believes fans support teams that they can relate to, and look at as a second family. This belief is apparent in Pluto’s book Our Tribe.

The reason it’s called our tribe is because we had a second set of relatives that my father talked about, Pluto said. He would talk about this baseball players like he would Uncle Byron, and Aunt Pat, and Grandpa George, they were all kind of together.

Pluto believes that Cleveland fans are able to stay supportive through bleak times because the adversity experienced as a Cleveland sports fan allows fans to connect with not only each other, but also the teams they root for.

It was announced mid-season that the Browns were moving from Cleveland, Pluto said. The Browns drew 60,000 people a game to watch a team that was headed to Baltimore the next year.

Pluto could not think of a word to describe the loyalty of Cleveland Browns fans and drew laughs from the crowd when he tried.

Browns fans may actually need to seek help, Pluto jokingly said.

Pluto said his favorite Cleveland sports memory was when the Indians won the American League title in game six of the 1995 American League Championship Series.

Pluto sees this as his favorite because of a conversation he had with starting pitcher Dennis Martinez before the game, and the fact that it sent the Indians to the World Series.

During Pluto’s conversation with Martinez, the scheduled starting pitcher for game six, Martinez pulled a coin from his pocket and explained that former Indians pitcher Bob Feller gave it to him for good luck.

I didn’t want to mention to him that Bob Feller never won a post season game, Pluto said.

Pluto received his degree at Cleveland State University before working at the Akron Beacon Journal, and eventually working for his hometown newspaper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

During his career, Pluto has been named Ohio Sportswriter of the year nine times, received two sports writing awards from The Associated Press and has written 23 books.