Pittsburgh Pirates

Cleveland stuck in shadow of Pittsburgh while on brink of title

Sports fans in Cleveland will settle for a championship any way they can get it.

Even if it comes by way of the city’s NBA team as opposed to their beloved NFL Browns.

Even if it comes via the help of the greatest player in the world, who several years back went on national television and publicly embarrassed the region when he took his ball and won titles elsewhere.

But again, make no mistake, you take the sweet taste of success any way you can get it.

That’s what happens when you’ve gone 146 major sports seasons without a title. The last of which came on Dec. 27, 1964 when the Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts for the NFL championship.

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Cleveland Indians shortstop Jay Bell & MLB’s rookie one-swing wonders

Imagine waiting three years for your one big opportunity. Then imagine knocking it out of the park on the very first pitch.

Jay Bell on 1988 Topps card #637

Jay Bell on 1988 Topps card #637

That’s how the first Major League Baseball swing played out for Cleveland Indians shortstop Jay Bell in 1986 when he connected for a homer off Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven in his first trip to the big league plate.

It turns out that after being called up from the instructional league in September of that year Bell got some solid advice from future Indians manager Mike Hargrove, who advised the struggling hitter on the way to the airport to swing at the first pitch he sees as it would likely be a fastball.

The irony was likely not lost on the baseball fans in attendance that day.

After being taken with the No. 8 overall pick out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in 1984 Bell was part of a minor league package shipped to Cleveland in exchange for Blyleven.

Cleveland also received pitcher Curt Wardle and outfielder Jim Weaver up front in the deal, and later pitcher Rich Yett. The man affectionately known as the Frying Dutchman would go on to help the Twins win a championship in 1987 just as Bell’s career was getting started.

Can you imagine how rare it must be to hit a major league home run off of the first pitch hurled your way?

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San Francisco Giants march back into postseason with blowout win

The San Francisco Giants won World Series titles in 2010 and 2012 before missing out on the postseason a year ago. On Wednesday they returned in a big way with an 8-0 road win against the Pittsburgh Pirates for the National League wild card. The Pirates were playing in back-to-back postseasons after a 21-year playoff drought, but this time they barely put up a fight.

Madison Bumgarner was dominant on the mound, pitching a complete game with 10 strikeouts. Brandon Crawford took the home crowd out of the game early when he hit a grand slam in the top of the fourth. The Giants outhit the Pirates 11-4 and looked every bit ready for baseball in October.

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