Covering the bases: Cleveland is king

WASHINGTON — Pigs can fly and hell has frozen over.

Yes, Cleveland, you are a championship city. It took over a half century, but you are no longer “The Mistake by the Lake,” rather “The Miracle by the Lake.”

The Cavaliers did it in history-making fashion, by becoming the first team to rally from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. Appropriate. It shouldn’t have come any other way.

San Diego is now on the clock. The city hasn’t won a championship since the 1963 Chargers in the old AFL.

Buffalo isn’t far behind, winning their two AFL Titles against San Diego the next two years.

But when it comes to franchise droughts, another big one could end this year. The Chicago Cubs have the best record in baseball. They may get to hang a banner next to their 1908 World Series title.

Let’s not feel bad for the Warriors. Their record season will only fuel them for next year. They’ve already been installed by Las Vegas as leading favorites (at 7/4) to win it all in 2017.

Even in defeat, Bay Area sports fans have certainly had it good lately. Golden State came within one win of back-to-back NBA titles, while the San Jose Sharks reached the Stanley Cup Finals and the San Francisco Giants have returned to first place after winning three World Series in a five-year span. Could it be four in seven seasons for the Giants? After all, it is an even year.

Also, don’t count out the 49ers. With Chip Kelly now the coach, it will at least be interesting. Oh, and don’t forget — Super Bowl 50 was played at the Niners’ new stadium in February.

Meanwhile, Cleveland is now on a bit of a roll. The weekend before the Cavaliers clinched, the Lake Erie Monsters won the AHL’s Calder Cup by sweeping the Hershey Bears, the Capitals’ top minor league affiliate.

That’s two in one week after a 52-year drought! Oh, and the Indians are in first place.

Getting back to the Capitals, how’s this for NHL scheduling? The Caps will open next season at Pittsburgh. That’s the night the Penguins will raise their new Stanley Cup banner.

Nice kick to the stomach.

The popular feeling going into the Caps-Pens playoff series had the winner going on to win the Stanley Cup. That proved to be correct. Unfortunately, though, it turned out to be Pittsburgh.

Staying with hockey, if there’s a player today who compares to Gordie Howe, it just might Alex Ovechkin. Mr. Hockey was considered the most physical player of his time, combining skill and toughness.

That’s Ovi’s game. He doesn’t shy from contact, instead he initiates it. Individually, Howe won five scoring titles, six Art Ross and Hart Trophies each.

Ovi also has multiple awards. He’s been the NHL’s Hart Trophy winner three times, Most Outstanding Player three more, goal-scoring champ six times and snagged one Art Ross Trophy as well as Rookie of the Year. The big difference: four Stanley Cups for Howe, none for Ovechkin.

When Howe played, though, the NHL had only its Original Six teams. That’s a 16.6 percent chance of winning.

The league has five times that many teams now, and will be adding a 31st in Las Vegas. Good move by the NHL to be the first league to get a foothold in Sin City.

Fans from other cities, especially in Canada, will make road trips to Vegas to watch their team and get out of the cold in the middle of winter.

It’s now been nearly three weeks since the passing of Muhammad Ali, and I still can’t get over how inclusive his memorial service was. It wasn’t just a Muslim service, but included two rabbis, a pastor, a Buddhist chant, a Faithkeeper of a native Indian Nation, a Syrian immigrant, a former U.S. president and one of the best comedians ever.

It was inclusive. It’s what Ali preached his whole life and what the world needs now more than ever.

I don’t know if LeBron James will ever reach the worldwide status of “The Greatest.” But King James has certainly united the city of Cleveland.

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