Monday, November 21, 2016

ESPN 30 for 30 Vol 3: Believeland

Running on the treadmill over the last couple of days, I re-watched Believeland. At the beginning of the film, it is noted that Cleveland was the only city with three major sports franchises that hadn't won a championship in the last fifty years! This is the ninth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Volume 3. An episode guide for Vol 3 is here.

The documentary can be roughly divided into five parts. First, it starts by looking at the growth of the city and the success of its sports teams after World War II. In 1948, the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Braves in the World Series. Behind Jim Brown, the Cleveland Browns upset Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts to win the NFL Championship in 1964. This championship starts fifty years of frustration!

Second, the film looks at the Browns of the late 1980s. Coached by Marty Schottenheimer and Quarterbacked by Bernie Kosar, the Cleveland Browns lost the AFC Championship game to the Denver Bronocs at the end of the 1986 and 1987 seasons. In the 1986 Championship game, John Elway drove the Bronocs the length of the field to tie the game and win in overtime [the drive]. In the 1987 Championship game, Ernst Byner fumbled as the Browns were driving to tie the game [the fumble].

Third, the documentary follows the Indians of the late 1990s. The Cleveland Indians lost the 1995 World Series to the Atlanta Braves in six games. The Cleveland Indians then lost the 1997 World Series to the Florida Marlins in game seven by the score of 3 to 2.

One side note, on October 3, 1997, Tomasin, Hunter, Snipes and I went to game three of the Florida Marlins versus San Francisco Giants playoff game at Candlestick. The Giants lost the game by the score of 6 to 2 and were eliminated from the play-off. I am going to post the box score and a few comments about this game in the near future.

The fourth act looks at Art Model's purchase of the Cleveland Browns in the early 1960s and his history with the team and city. When he couldn't get a new stadium, Model ended up moving the Browns to Baltimore in 1996. The NFL turned around and gave Cleveland a new team in 1999. Model and the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000. The Ravens also won the 2012 Super Bowl.

Fifth, the documentary looks at LeBron and the Cleveland Caveliers. Starting with the drafting of LeBron, the film follows LeBron's initial tour with the Cavs. They made it to the NBA Finals in 2006-2007, but were swept by the Spurs. They lost to the Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008-2009 and then to Boston in the second round in 2009-2010.

At this point, LeBron jumped to Miami. The film closes with LeBron coming back to Cleveland and the Cavs losing the 2015 NBA Finals to Golden State. The film first aired in May of 2016 just a couple of months before Cavs beat Golden State to win the NBA Championship.

After the Cavs won the championship, the end of the documentary was reshoot. I need to find new version. Overall, this is a very good film!

A second footnote, Larkin and I saw LeBron play his first professional game!

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