This was always our year: Part II

 

Cleveland is on fire (and I say that to include the dumpster fire that is the Browns so far this season, mind you), and there is no stopping us now. The Cavs win the championship for the first time ever and now, with an impressive record of 91-65, the Indians clinch their first division title in nearly a decade?? Is this real life? Hello, October 🙂

As long as you get blackout drunk every Sunday morning before the Browns play, it’s good to be a Cleveland fan in 2016.

More locker room fun at Bottlegate.com.

This was always our year

I was up early this morning.

The streets were quieter than usual, probably due to the fact that most of the town was still sleeping off the previous nights’ celebration. Though it was quiet, there was something different in the air. Something that this city hasn’t felt in 52 years. Victory.

We all wake up this morning as champions. The entire city of Cleveland. For everyone who ever doubted us, for Believeland, for everything else we’ve gone through… we made it. We are all winners today. And damn, does that feel good.

 

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It. Happened. !!!!! #cleveland #mycity #ahhhhhhh

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We Bleed Ohio T-Shirt GIVEAWAY!!!

It was a warm and sunny Saturday, though in Cleveland, that can change in an instant. My friends and I headed over to Cleveland Bazaar — northeast Ohio’s longest-running indie craft show, which took place just across the street from the West Side Market on May 16th. It was only slightly drizzling by time we made our way out and around to look at all the local vendors had to offer. From hand-crafted pictures, to t-shirts, to dog treats… Cleveland Bazaar has everything: with a Cleveland twist.

One table really caught my eye, with its unique designs printed on high quality tanks and tees… I couldn’t help myself when it came to We Bleed Ohio. Wallet aching from a long weekend, I absolutely had to purchase a tank that was a play on the orange “Cavs” logo, but with the words “Ohio” instead.

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After countless compliments on the tank itself, I decided to do a little research on this company. Since founding We Bleed Ohio in 2011, graphic designer and Cleveland-native, Dave Gruss, has grown his business from part-time screen printing to a full-time gig — unveiling an official brick and mortar location downtown in the 5th Street Arcades last month. In an interview with Dave, I was able to learn more about We Bleed Ohio and the man behind the designs.


kc: How long have you been a graphic designer?
dg: I started designing shirts under the artist name Griggitees in 2008. Mainly submitting designs to one-a-day shirt sites, which were new back then. Slowly, I started getting approvals and picking up clients for small independents clothing brands or local bands. I joined several online t-shirt communities that really helped find new clients and for them to find me.

kc: What made you want to start WBO?
dg: At the time Peyton Hillis was the Browns superstar and he did this Incredible Hulk pose after making a great play. I knew I had to make that a shirt and WBO was kind of born from that. I came up with the brand We Bleed Ohio to provide unique designs for the die-hard Ohio sports fans. I didn’t want to have just one shirt to sell, so after quick sketch of a Wahoo skull I added that as another shirt and that was the start of it all.

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kc: Why is it important to you that you represent everything Ohio with your designs?
dg: Ohio is like family to me. I love my sports teams with a passion. There was this one episode of Saved by the Bell I watched growing up and there was a joke thrown in about the Cleveland Indians. I remember sitting there thinking how that stung a bit–having my team and my hometown being made fun of. There is a pride of being from Ohio that most people don’t understand. I think it tells a lot about who we are. We stand together through the thick and thin of it all.

kc: Where do you get the inspiration for the unique designs — like the Skull Chief Wahoo or the Browns Leg Lamp?
dg: When I did the Skullhoo design there was an artist who did a series of famous cartoon characters with abnormally shaped heads in proportion to their bodies and what their skeletons would look like if they were real. I decided to do that with Wahoo. The Browns Leg Lamp came from brainstorming ideas for an ugly Christmas sweater.

kc: You state on your website that you only use Next Level Apparel as your shirt supplier… why is that especially important to you?
dg: It is important that the apparel is consistent and of the highest quality so customers know what to expect each and every time when purchasing from We Bleed Ohio. It is equally as important that the manufacturer is ethically responsible if I am going to associate it with my brand.

kc: What kind of steps had to be taken to open the brick and mortar store and what led to your decision to do it?
dg: I took my time, kept track of sales and costs to create a business plan. I also looked at several different locations over a period of time and what else was developing around the area. I think the addition of Barrio to the 5th Street Arcades is what finally made me pull the trigger. I love their tacos.

kc: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an entrepreneur?
dg: Don’t be afraid to fail because it will happen.

kc: What kinds of things do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working on WBO stuff?
dg: I spend all my free time with my family. If they let me, I’ll get a few rounds of golf in or make it out to a few games.

kc: Are the Cavs winning it all this year?
dg: Nothing is promised, the Cavs will have to give everything they got.

kc: Any predictions for the Browns season?
dg: I would love it if the Browns went with the orange pants all season.


Follow We Bleed Ohio on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and be sure to check out their brand new retail location at the 5th Street Arcades – now open!


GIVEAWAY TIME!

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Just in time for the NBA Finals!!! Want to win this unisex wine and gold Believeland t-shirt? It couldn’t be easier to enter!

Rules for entering:

  1. Follow me on Instagram – @kimbcast
  2. Tag two friends in the comments section on the giveaway photo
  3. Follow We Bleed Ohio on Instagram – @WeBleedOhio

The giveaway will run now until the end of the day Friday, June 5th and the winner will be announced via Instagram on Monday. Good Luck!!

[questions regarding entry can be sent to kc@kcincleveland.com]

And, if you don’t win, use the discount code WEBLEED10 for 10% off your next purchase!

A day in the life of a Cleveland sports fan

I can remember having the best birthday week ever, as all last week the Cleveland Browns sat pretty in first place. The lone AFC North team up there with a record of 6-3 through Week 10. It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced before… Not only does our division have an outstanding overall record (all teams are over .500 at this point), but the Browns… the Cleveland Browns were in first thanks to the Steelers losing miserably to the 1-8 Jets last Sunday. And this is after we had one of the best Thursday Night Football performances in NFL history, crushing the Bengals 24-3 on their home turf.

I can remember thinking this is our year; Hoyer is the man, our coaching staff is looking great, and the icing on the cake is that our secret weapon–a person that even made Brandon Weeden look good–Josh Gordon will be back in just over a week.

And then Sunday happened. From on top of the world, to tied for 3rd place, the Browns fell to the Houston Texans, or more specifically, JJ Twatt (aka Lurch–see below), and a QB who had his first career NFL start, that our defense made look like some kind of a god. Hoyer couldn’t complete a good pass to save his life, we couldn’t convert on 3rd downs, hell, we couldn’t even make a 38-yard field goal. Not like it would have mattered anyway.

Notice the resemblance?

Notice the resemblance?

And we’re back to reality… not winning in our division, doubts filling the fans heads regarding our team, our QB, our coaching staff, and to add fuel to the fire, outlandish comments claiming if Johnny Manziel were our starting QB, that the Browns would still be in first place… On the bright side, an uplifting quote from Browns reporter Kevin Jones: “There are 20 other teams around the league that would kill to be 6-4. The Browns still control their own destiny. They are still getting back Josh Gordon bright and early Monday morning. They are still a football team nobody wants to play.” Still: not enough to soften this blow. The only thing getting me through this crushing defeat was knowing my girlfriends and I were going to the Cavaliers game the next day.


I can remember exactly where I was when I heard LeBron was returning to Cleveland. Sitting on my (roommate’s) sectional on my lunch break, watching LeBron Watch: 2014, as ESPN devoted their entire daily programming to him in the days leading up to his announcement. Constantly refreshing Twitter to see if the news broke. And when it did… I was so pumped for Cleveland… for the Cavs, and for the teams I have never wavered in rooting for, no matter how poorly we’ve performed over the years.

I can remember thinking that it all seemed like it was happening; LeBron is back, Kyrie is staying, we were even able to clinch the adorable Kevin Love… we have our Big 3! It’s really happening for Cleveland. And I was going to get to see it in person!

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And then Monday happened. Coming off a 4-game winning streak and facing the 2-7 Denver Nuggets, I was beyond excited to finally get the chance to witness LeBron, Kyrie and K-Love in action. I wanted to see magic, and all I got was cheap beer (which was actually very expensive) to drown my sorrows. A post-game quote from LeBron went something like, “You have a team that hasn’t been playing well this year come into your building and think it’s going to be a cakewalk, and that’s what happens.” Typical.

And we’re back to reality… Cleveland received the gift that is LeBron James, and just because he’s the best player in the league, doesn’t mean we aren’t going to lose a game. It’s still so early in the season and the team is so new together that it would be illogical to think that they’d come out with guns blazing. But it would be nice. And as a Cleveland fan, you’d think we deserve it. However, the harsh reality is that we’re always going to be brought back down to Earth when it comes to our sports teams.

It’s all just a day in the life of a Cleveland sports fan. But, we’re resilient. We’ll all be just fine.

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LeBron in Cleveland

I have been really hesitant to put my feelings for LeBron James out there on the internet, mostly because everyone has something to say and certain opinions may not be as popular as others. However, with his decision anywhere from minutes to days away, I figure now is as good a time as any to put my two cents in on the whole situation. It’s not simple for me… the question is, “How do you feel about LeBron maybe returning to the Cavaliers?” The answer should be a quick “Love it” or “Hate it,” right? In my opinion, it’s not that easy.

My disdain for him began, along with most of my city, in 2010… after he (or his “publicists”) thought it would be a good idea to announce–on a 75-minute time slot on ESPN–which team his future in the NBA would be with. His own team in Cleveland did not even know what decision he was going to make until just minutes before the show aired. I thought it was tacky. Cleveland fans compared his so-called betrayal as second to Art Modell moving the Browns to Baltimore. I thought the guy was more interested in people hyping over him than he was passionate about the game. I thought the NBA was rigged; orchestrating a power team in the Miami Heat that would dominate like when the Bulls had MJ. I thought it was dumb. And at that moment I was over LeBron… didn’t even hate or talk shit, just didn’t pay him any attention. Got a little satisfaction (as any betrayed Cleveland fan would) when the whole “Cavs 4 Mavs” started his first trip to the finals as a Miami Heat player (and the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks, as they should have).

So now that there is all this hype regarding if LeBron is going to return and be the hometown hero, I’m somewhat torn. My pride says no, I don’t want him back. But my passion, passion for my city and passion for my team, that tells me I’d be a fool to want him to go anywhere else. The Heat was supposed to have put together an unstoppable front, the “Big 3” of James, Wade and Bosh. Their “powerhouse” team went 2 and 4 for championships in the last four years, so, yes, I think LeBron is over it too.

At this point for Cavaliers fans, it goes beyond what he did to us and onto what he can do for us–that is, hopefully, bring Cleveland a championship. He seems to be going about it with a little more class than he did four years ago: not saying a word to media and meeting with his own team execs well in advance, before he makes his announcement (which will likely come from his own website, LeBronJames.com). With as quiet as he has been, though, the media and the general public are going batshit crazy.

Am I still sour about The Decision? I mean, yea… but I guess he was young and stupid and just wanted to be the greatest of all time. Do I respect that? Yes. Do I think people who burned his jersey 4 years ago that are now hoping he comes back are ridiculous? Kind of. Am I going to boycott my team or my city if LeBron wants to come back? Absolutely not. Am I ready to welcome him back to Cleveland with open arms? Well… maybe give me a little bit and we’ll see.

All I know is, with all of this hype going on in Cleveland right now… if he doesn’t end up coming back, he will have a lot of angry Clevelanders, and his kids will probably get the shit kicked out of them in school. So there’s that.

Regardless of the final outcome in all of this, I will always support my city.