Seattle vs. Cleveland: Which Future In Sports Looks Bleakest?
The battle of who has the bleakest sports future comes down to the cities of Seattle and Cleveland.
Sure, there may be a few other cities who feel depressed and want in on this action.
Buffalo, Minnesota and Kansas City come to mind. But the real argument is between those North-westerners and Ohioans.
To determine which city's future is, in fact, the ugliest, we must examine each sport and find out who has it worse, then determine the likelihood of that being turned around.
The "winner" will be the city with the worst outlook and the smallest hope for immediate success.
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Cleveland Browns: Finished the 2010 season 5-11 and fired their head coach. However, their season was not an utter failure.
The head coach firing was a bit of a surprise after seeing some good things throughout the year.
Peyton Hillis emerged as a bona fide star at the running back position. Obtaining him from the Denver Broncos turned out to be one of the best steals in recent memory.
Colt McCoy also showed some signs of success behind center. Although he doesn't have the tools to be a star, he has shown he knows how to win and lead a team from the quarterback position.
The problem is the division. Residing in the AFC North leaves little hope for immediate success. Although, in the NFL, going from 5-11 to 11-5 has become commonplace.
Seattle Seahawks: Finished 7-9 and won their division, followed by a first round playoff victory.
As odd as it sounds, it could be argued the Browns had a better regular season than the Seahawks. Buoyed by one of the worst divisions in sports history, the Seahawks crawled into the playoffs.
A Wild Card round victory over the Saints was a beautiful surprise, yet this team is not very talented and leaves little hope for the future.
There are some nice players on defense, including middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, but the offense is old and slow. Leon Washington is one bright spot on a special teams unit that always had to be planned for.
On the plus side, the NFC West will be just as winnable next season, but 7-9 will be hard pressed to be enough.
Their future looks bleaker because their team is worse. In this NFL, the division you are in matters, but with so much year to year turnover, it is not as much of a deciding factor as in year's past.
For example, no one would have expected the AFC South to be the desolate wasteland it was in 2010.
The Browns have the better team and that gives them the better future.
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Cleveland Cavaliers: Currently 8-36, by far the worst record in the NBA. We knew they would be bad, but this bad? Well, yeah, we knew they would be this bad.
The argument comes down to whether this is not an awful thing. They will get a top pick next draft, most likely the No. 1 pick. If that player turns into a star, the future looks bright.
Of course, that is a lot of "ifs." A likely scenario could be a first overall selection coming to a wreaked team with some good pieces and some bad pieces. Having a top pick flourish in that type of environment is a bit of a crapshoot.
This is closer than it should be simply because Cleveland is currently the home of the worst basketball team in the league.
However, Seattle's only hope for the future is the relocation of a current team, such as the Hornets.
Even though this seems possible, even plausible, these things take a long time to develop. Let's put it this way.
Cleveland's corpse of a roster will be winning more games in 2011, 2012 and 2013 than Seattle.
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Cleveland Indians: Finished 69-93, fourth in AL Central. The Indians have been in free fall in recent years, tumbling from one of the top teams in the American League just four short years ago.
Their everyday lineup has good, young talent.
Even if Grady Sizemore is never good again, the Indians have one of the top young catchers in baseball in Carlos Santana, as well as talented hitters Shin Soo Choo, Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley. The lineup has the potential to be good.
The pitching, on the other hand, does not. Sure Justin Masterson may take a leap and win 17-18 games in 2011, but who else is going to win any?
The Indians would need an unlikely, Padres-esk season from their starting rotation to be anything but fourth or fifth in their division again.
Seattle Mariners: Finished 61-101, worst record in the AL. The Mariners had high hopes heading into last season, with a rotation anchored by Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee. It is really staggering to think back and imagine how this team was this bad.
A year later, heading into 2011 spring training, Cliff Lee is long gone, and this lineup is not much better.
Ichiro is still here, but how many more years can he carry a group of Mendoza-line batters? There are high expectations for Justin Smoak but another putrid offensive season may be in the works.
The hope for the future rests squarely on the shoulders of ace Felix Hernandez. He is still only 24 years old, as ridiculous as that sounds, after debuting at the tender age of 19, and he is clearly one of the top pitchers in all of baseball.
Cleveland has a few hitters, but no pitching to build around. In baseball, front-end starting pitching is the most important thing a roster can have. Seattle has this.
Although there is not much around Felix Hernandez, having a top of the line ace puts the Mariners ahead of the Indians for the future. A bleak future is in store for this Cleveland franchise unless they can swap some of these hitters for big arms.
The irony is of course, the Indians recently traded away Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia, two pitchers who have each won Cy Young awards and who have each pitched in the World Series.
The Bleakest Future Belongs To..
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The City of Seattle.
The race was ever so close. Both cities have a below average football team with nothing more than prayers for immediate success in the coming seasons. Cleveland's team just seems slightly more talented.
Both cities have well below average baseball teams with little to hang their hats on for the coming 2011 season other than a few players who have talent. Seattle's talent is an ace pitcher, which gives them the slightly more promising future.
Both cities have no hope of winning an NBA title this season. The difference is that Cleveland at least has a team to watch take the floor and lose.
Ironically enough, fans may admit they would rather have no team than to be forced to watch this Cavaliers team play. However, a future with no team in Seattle is much more bleak than even the pitiful Cavs display.
Cleveland fans would admit as much, I'm sure.