Best Team to Root For
Even the Browns' decade-long streak of unrivaled incompetence has somehow failed to dampen Cleveland's passion. It's a Browns town, first and always, despite our better judgment. We'll talk about free agent wide receivers while the Cavs are playing, we'll debate which quarterback to draft while the Tribe is clinging to first place, and we'll bitch about every loss once the season is under way. Then we'll rinse and repeat next year.
Staff Pick: Cleveland Indians
Despite a payroll smaller than your weekly grocery budget and 17 surgeries for Grady Sizemore, the Tribe managed to field a competitive and entertaining squad last year. The Wahoos even pushed for a playoff spot before fizzling away and finishing two games under .500. Led by sluggers Carlos Santana, Shin-Soo Choo, and Asdrubal Cabrera, along with promising youngsters like second baseman Jason Kipnis, there's renewed hope at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.
Staff Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers
Best High School Team
The Wildcats' football and soccer teams deserve equal recognition, as each squad added to the Jesuit high school's athletic résumé in 2011 with state championship trophies. That's 11 titles for Coach Chuck Kyle on the gridiron since 1988, and five for Coach Mike McLaughlin on the pitch since 2004. Add in a hockey team that won the state title in 2010 and rode out an undefeated regular season this year, and you have a school dominating the high school sports landscape.
Staff Pick: St. Edward High School
Best Athlete & Best Cavaliers Player
A former Cleveland Cavalier who shall not be named won this category multiple years in a row. Kyrie Irving is doing everything he can to help us forget about him. The stat geeks around the NBA will tell you Irving is having one of the best rookie seasons in NBA history. They ain't telling you anything your eyes don't already know. The No. 1 draft pick out of Duke is also making the depleted Cavs competitive and watchable almost entirely by himself — often willing them to win in the game's waning moments on nights they had no business hanging close. He's well on his way to winning Rookie of the Year, and the accolades, the glimmers of greatness, and his delightfully humble nature don't show any signs of letting up soon.
Staff Picks: Best Athlete: Kyrie Irving; Best Cavaliers Player: Kyrie Irving
Best Indians Player
It's hard to pick what was more impressive about the young Tribe shortstop in 2011 — his dazzling, highlight-worthy glove skills or the 25 homers he smacked in a breakout power year. Tribe fans, of course, will joyously take both. 'Drubs has also solidified himself as that rarest of all beasts: the Cleveland Indian who lives up to his promise without getting horrifically injured immediately after.
Staff Pick: Asdrubal Cabrera