The Indians up three games to one and just one game away from the World Series got outscored 30-5 to lose the series to the Red Sox.
Heartbreakingly sad and yet it barely squeezes (if at all) into my top ten of all-time Cleveland Sports disappointments. Maybe this is worse than the 1999 ALDS loss to the Red Sox because the World Series was so close but I could argue that 1999 worse. The Indians were up 2 games to none and in game three Dave Burba had given up just one hit in four innings before he was injured. Hargrove went with his game four starter Jaret Wright who promptly gave up five runs out of the bullpen. Those were just the first five of what turned out to be 43 more from that point on as the Red Sox over whelmed the Tribe. While it was only the first round, Hargrove mishandling of his pitching staff gave the ego manic John Hart the ammo he needed to fire him. On came Charlie Manuel and the beginning of the end of an era. I argue that if Hargrove saves Wright to pitch game four and a fully rested Bartolo Colon waiting in game five. The Indians win that series and Hargrove could have been in Bobby Cox situation as manager and maybe still be here today.
9. Sweet Sixteen: In 1986, the Cleveland State Vikings shocked the rest of the college sports world by upsetting Indiana and St. Joseph in the NCAA tournament. The Vikings got jobbed however against David Robinson and Navy. Last March Sportstime Ohio showed the game on TV and even though I knew the ending, I still thought they were going to win. The tape showed my memory was pure. Two calls went against the Vikes and it ended the only bright moment in the history of Cleveland D-I college sports.
8. Red Right 88: You would think this would be higher. I lost my sports innocence in that game in 1981. All they needed was a field goal and yet Sipe threw into the end zone. At that time, I just assumed a Super Bowl victory and a happy ending would happen.
7. Game four ALDS 1996: This may surprise a lot of people with short memories. The 1996 team may have been the best and most complete Indians of that era. The Tribe lost the first two in Baltimore before coming home for what should have been the last three. They won game three and had a 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth. With two and two out, Mesa gave up game tying single to Roberto Alomar, who should have been suspended for spitting on an umpire. In the bottom of the ninth, the Indians had a runner on second with one out and could not score. They had a man on second in the tenth as well and didn't score. Alomar then homered in the 12th to prematurely end the season.
6. The Shot: For most of the 1988-1989 season, the Cavs were the best team in the NBA until Bad Boy Rick Mahorn took a cheap shot on Mark Price. The Cavs lost the division to the Pistons and despite the second best record had to take the third seed and the Bulls. Jordan started his legend with that play. But at the time, it was a major upset. And it hurt.
5. Choking in Pittspuke: The 2003 Wildcard playoff game. Honestly this hurt a lot more than many on the list above it. Losing to the most hated rival three times in one season is painful enough but to blow a 17 point lead late was unbearable. The Browns had this game won and just let it slip away.
4. The 1989 AFC season championship game. Losing to the Broncos for the third time in four years was not fun. The final score of 37-21 betrays the real game. The Browns got beat up for most of the first half. Bernie Kosar led a third quarter comeback to get the Browns back in the game before the Broncos pulled away.
3. The Fumble. I will never forget celebrating on that fateful play. I saw Byner enter the end zone and thought we had tied the game. I was wondering why he did not seem as happy as I was. I never saw the ball pop out. The Zapruder film later of Webster Slaughter not even pretending to run his route and allow Castillo to leave him and go straight for Byner only added to the misery. Before that moment, that comeback may have been the most excited I have been in my life.
2. The Drive. Can you believe there is something worse than this? A seven point lead with the ball on the two yard line with time running out. It seems every time I turn on ESPN Classic this game is waiting for me. And to my death bed, you will never convince me that Karlis' field goal in the overtime was good. It was wide but those damn refs were cold.
1. Game seven 1997 World Series. I still can't talk about this game.