Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WSH vs. CLE — Clash of the Half-Pints

We feel that we at Hail to the Chief... to the Death are doing the public a service, and that this is especially apparent with this week's fight.

This week, we are bringing you a meeting between Washington and Cleveland. When, in professional sports, has their been a Washington-Cleveland matchup with such high stakes? Never! Well, not quite never, but we'll get to that.

The professional sports teams of Cleveland haven't had too much success in their respective leagues' post-seasons. The word "curse" gets dropped pretty regularly when referring Cleveland teams. Of course, Cleveland is an easy target to begin with.

Washington's teams have done better, enough that people aren't quite ready to attribute any misfortune to superstition.

Given these cities' somewhat infrequent trips to the post-season, it's very unlikely either of these cities would meet each other. So again, we'd like to point out that we're doing you a service. And since we're service-minded, we'll break this down by sport.

The Washington Redskins have made five Super Bowl appearances and have won three, which is actually quite impressive and is probably why no one says Washington is cursed.
And they've gotten off to a 3-1 start this season. So, let's see what they do with that.

The Cleveland Browns, on the other hand, have never made a trip to the Super Bowl, which makes meeting someone in the Super Bowl extremely difficult.

The Cleveland Indians haven't won a World Series since 1948.

That sounds bad until you realize that Washington hasn't won a World Series since 1924. Of course, that comes with some caveats. Washington's current team, the Nationals, moved to D.C. from Montreal in 2005. Prior to that, the Washington Senators were in town from 1961-1971 before vamoosing to Texas. And prior to that, the original Washington Senators played American League baseball from 1901-1960. It was this original Senators franchise that won the city's only World Series title in 1924. Also, apparently they were sometimes known as the Nationals, funnily enough.
Either that, or we're being punk'd by the Internet
However, the Senators, the second Senators, and the Indians were all in the same league, and never faced one another in the playoffs. In fact, it was only possible for them to do so from 1969-71, the brief window between the installation of the American League Championship Series, and the Senators' move to Texas. Nowadays, the only way for the two clubs to meet would be in the World Series, as the Nationals are a National League club. Will either team contend soon? Well, the Nationals finished in third-place in their division this year, and the Indians... well, the Indians finished second in their division, but they lost more games than they won.

But, we digress. It boils down to this: three teams, two names and only one title. And they never met Cleveland in the post-season, nor were they ever in contention for the American League pennant.

Moving on...

Cleveland doesn't currently have a professional hockey team, but they did have the Cleveland Barons for two seasons, staring in 1976.
In 1978, the Barons merged with the Minnesota North Stars. The North Stars later moved to Texas to become the Dallas Stars. So, the Barons kind of got to do what both of baseball's Washington Senators got to do — move to Minnesota and Texas.

Needless to say, the Barons didn't make it to the playoffs. At this same time, the Washington Capitals were still a few years from their first playoffs appearance at that point.

First off, the now-defunct Cleveland Rockers never faced the Washington Mystics in the WNBA playoffs.
They, apparently, didn't rock very well.

Okay, actually Cleveland and Washington have met in the NBA playoffs five times. Twice in the '70s, when Washington's team was known as the Bullets (in the '90s, they decided maybe they shouldn't call attention to Washington's crime rate, so they changed their name to the Wizards).
The Wizards then became synonymous with this, which isn't nearly as cool as you might think.
The Wizards met up with the Cleveland Cavaliers three consecutive seasons in the mid-'00s, and lost each time in the First Round. Of course, is that really impressive? After all, the NBA playoffs involve more than half of the league's teams. In fact, the Wizards had a .500 record in 2007 and still made the playoffs.

You might be saying, "But that was a Round of 16, George and Grover are fighting in a Round of 32. How are the stakes higher for you guys?"

Because ours involves presidents and not overpaid athletes. Also, why do you hate America?

We suppose the most important Cavaliers-Bullets matchup would be the first time they met in the playoffs in 1976. The winner of that series (the Cavs) went on to the Conference Finals, where they were promptly felled by the Boston Celtics (who wound up winning the championship).

Okay, Washington and Cleveland's NBA teams had an important matchup in 1976. All 1976 does is remind us about the American Bicentennial, and what's more important (to Americans, anyway) than America? By transitive property, American presidents are also more important.

So, we stand by our claim that this week's Washington-Cleveland matchup is more important than any in history. Be sure to vote in this historic meeting.

Oh, hey. Something else Washington and Cleveland sports teams have in common: racially insensitive mascots.
Still not as bad as the Atlanta Braves' Chief Noc-A-Homa, but there wasn't a president named Atlanta,
so there's no need to get into that.

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