A lot has been said about the Cleveland Indians’ 22-game winning streak. You’ve probably seen the insane stats — the team hit 41 home runs and only gave up 37 runs — but beyond the craziness of a feat like this, we probably won’t see anything like it for the rest of our lives.
It has been called the most dominant stretch of baseball ever played, which might be true. While I was watching — and thoroughly enjoying — my Indians ride into history, I began wondering what other once-in-a-lifetime sports events I’ve witnessed.
Sure, I’ve seen a lot of awesome things happen in sports, but what truly constitutes a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Is it winning a championship? They give one out every year.
Just winning a championship isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sure, for plenty of athletes winning a championship only happens once. But for a sports fan, I experience a championship in every sport, every year.
Maybe I won’t see the Green Bay Packers ever win another Super Bowl — though I doubt that. Maybe the Cleveland Cavaliers won’t win another title and the Indians championship drought will continue on. But simply winning a championship isn’t enough. There has to be more to make something a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The first event that pops into my mind is the Cavaliers 2016 championship. Not just because the Cavs won, but because of all the outside factors involved.
The Cavs came back after being down 3-1, something that had never been done before, and ended the 52-year city-wide championship drought, making it once in a lifetime.
The drought could only be ended once. In Cleveland, that night was electric. Seeing my city explode with a sense of happiness and relief in a spectrum of ways was amazing.
I saw an older couple, standing off to the side of the plaza outside Quicken Loans Arena, take in the celebrations with tears in their eyes. I saw a mass of people high fiving and hugging. I saw a guy doing donuts on his motorcycle among a sea of people. I heard — and joined — expletive filled chants expressing Cleveland’s opinion of Steph Curry (hint: We don’t like him).
In fact, Cleveland sports in 2016 might have been the only once-in-a-lifetime sports event I’ve witnessed. Sure, other fans of other teams might have their own once-in-a-lifetime moments — Cubs fans would probably say the 2016 World Series was theirs — but this is mine.
In 2016, most of Cleveland went from the laughing stock of the sports world, to being at the center of it — sorry, Browns. One day perfectly captured that moment when the only thing that mattered to sports was Cleveland.
On Oct. 25, 2016, Cleveland was at the center of it all — a moment that I don’t think I will ever see again.
That day was both game one of the 2016 World Series and the Cavs home opener and championship banner unveiling. In one night, Cleveland would celebrate their first championship in more than 50 years while starting the chance to win another.
Walking around Cleveland before I went to the Indians game was crazy. Besides the night of the Cavs victory and the parade, I’ve never seen the city have more energy. We were no longer the butt of everyone’s bad joke.
For one night, no one could say Cleveland didn’t matter, no one could make a burning river joke and no one could say Cleveland sports were bad.
That night was a once-in-a-lifetime sports moment.