Detroit-Cleveland: Both May Be Bad, but Only One City Can Be the Worst

Ross MaghielseCorrespondent INovember 20, 2009

CLEVELAND - AUGUST 22:  Steve Heiden #82 of the Cleveland Browns falls forward as he is hit by Anthony Henry #32 of the Detroit Lions during the first quarter of their NFL game in Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 22, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Quick, try to name two Midwest cities with prideful sports fans, faltering economies, freezing cold winters, horrible football teams, and that absolutely hate one another.

Detroit and Cleveland fit that description perfectly.

Detroit was once known as Hitsville, USA and has since been called a Third World Metropolis. Cleveland is the home of the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, yet often is labeled as the Mistake on the Lake.

Cleveland’s economy is centered on LeBron James. Detroit’s economy is currently being funded by government bailouts. And yes, the Lions and Browns are both 1-8 on the season.

Am I the only one who’s jacked up for the game this weekend?

There are a handful of city rivalries that exist in this country, and Detroit and Cleveland is one of them. The records don’t matter; neither does the sport, whether it be Pistons vs. Cavaliers, Indians vs. Tigers, Michigan vs. Ohio State (I know that rivalry takes place out of the respective cities, but the fire is still there), and of course, the Lions and Browns.

These two teams even play for a trophy in the preseason. They may both represent the lowest level of professional football, but it is a rivalry. A big one, every time.

I grew up in Michigan and live in Metro Detroit, so clearly my natural alliances are with the Motor City. But I spent a year working as a media relations intern with the Cleveland Indians. I lived in that city for a year and absolutely hated it.

It’s the only city I’ve ever gotten cited for jaywalking in and received a parking ticket after paying to park my car in a parking garage. Apparently a PT Cruiser with Michigan plates doesn’t fit the “compact only” description. It doesn’t matter what Cleveland area team is playing or who the opponent is—I hope they lose. I hope they lose badly. It’s bitterness at its highest level.

These two cities may be laughed at by the rest of the country, but whenever their respective teams face off in athletic competition, it’s a chance to point the finger at the opponent and say, “At least we’re not that bad.” Even the TV shows Home Improvement and Drew Carey battled in the ratings to one-up each other.

Unfortunately, the game at Ford Field will be blacked out Sunday, again. Yet here’s the good news; it’s cheaper to drive from Detroit to Cleveland and watch the game at a sports bar than it is to park your car in downtown Detroit and buy a ticket to the game.

No joke. If your car gets at least 25 miles per gallon, you can drive to Cleveland for an estimated $17.91 each way. Parking is free in downtown Cleveland on Sundays (non-game days only, of course), so throw in a $25 restaurant bill and that puts the total expense at roughly $63.

The cheapest ticket available at the Lions box office is $55, plus a cost of $35 to $50 to park. No wonder the Lions can’t sell out games.

I thought about taking this approach, but in the end decided not to contribute another dime to the Cleveland economy. Besides, there may be some unpaid speeding/parking tickets in the state of Ohio with my name on them.

Instead, I’ll be driving to my hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., out of blackout range, to take in the game. I’ll also be in Ann Arbor Saturday hoping for a miracle to crush the dreams of Ohio State alums everywhere.

Since becoming part of a newspaper sports department, a large part of my “inner fan” has been put to rest. I haven’t cheered at a sporting event or yelled at the TV in years.

But this weekend, against Cleveland and the state university of Ohio, I’ll be just like every other cursing, fist-pumping loudmouth that resembles the average sports fan.