Inside the standings: Cleveland

The best and worst of Cleveland over the past 25 years:

Overall winning percentage: .467 (31st)

Best year: Umm ... 1994

In the last 25 years, only once has all three of Cleveland's team posted a winning record. In 1994, the Browns went 11-5 and won a playoff game. The Cavs went 47-35, but lost in the first round (again) to MJ and the Bulls. The Indians were 66-47 and 1 game out of first place when the strike ended the season.

Worst year: 1991

As bad as Cleveland's sports teams have been, the city has had only four years in the past 25 where all three franchises had losing records. While 2003 was awful, at least the Cavs won the LeBron lottery. So we vote for 1991:

  • The Browns went 6-10, in the first year of pre-genius Bill Belichick;

  • The Cavs, who had disappointed by losing in the first round of the playoffs the three previous seasons, slumped to 33-49, missing the playoffs altogether;

  • And the Indians went a miserable 57-105, the worst record in the majors.

    Best moment: Cleveland is one of the few cities without a championship in any sport during the 25-year ESPN era, so we can't defer to a championship moment. And it's a little too early to suggest winning the 2003 NBA draft lottery -- and the rights to LeBron -- was the best moment.

    Instead, we'll point to Game 4 of the 1997 AL Division Series against the Yankees. With the Yankees leading 2-1 in the 8th, Sandy Alomar homered off Mariano Rivera to the tie and the Indians won in the 9th. Rookie Jaret Wright won Game 5, the Indians went on to beat the Orioles in the ALCS and then ...

    Worst moment: Yes, The Drive hurt. The Fumble was painful. The Shot was miserable. But The Bottom of the Ninth was the worst moment -- and Cleveland has had its share of them.

    Cleveland led Florida 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, just three outs away from its first World Series title since 1948. Jose Mesa entered. Moises Alou singled, Bobby Bonilla struck out, Charles Johnson singled and Craig Counsell hit a sac fly to tie the game. When Tony Fernandez booted a routine groundball in the bottom of the 11th, the stage was set for Edgar Renteria's World Series-winning it.

    Best team: 1995 Indians (100-44)

    That's a 113-win pace over 162 games. The Indians led the AL in runs scored and fewest runs allowed. They hit .291 as a team as six regulars topped .300, with Albert Belle (.317, 50 HRs), Manny Ramirez (.308, 31 HRs) and Jim Thome (.314, 25 HRs) leading the way. Dennis Martinez and Orel Hershiser led the rotation and Jose Mesa had 46 saves and a 1.12 ERA out of the pen.

    Alas, Cleveland lost to Atlanta in six games in the World Series.

    Worst team: 1982 Cavaliers (15-67)

    They tried 23 different players during the season, and several were even past or future All-Stars -- Mike Mitchell, James Edwards, James Silas, Scott Wedman, Bill Laimbeer ... Paul Mokeski. How different was the NBA back then: the Cavs made 25 3-point shots on the season.

    Best individual season: Albert Belle, 1995

    Brian Sipe was NFL MVP in 1980 (30 TD passes, 4,132 yards) and Jose Mesa was spectacular in 1995 (3-0, 1.12 ERA, 46 saves) but we'll take Belle's '95, when he hit .317 with 50 homers and 52 doubles. He had 103 extra-base hits -- only five players have had more (and he did it in the abbreviated 144-game schedule).

  • Disagree? Discuss the best and worst Cleveland moments and athletes at the Indians message board.