CLEVELAND, Ohio — We were expecting one spotlight. Are you ready for two, Cleveland?
The country — and perhaps the world — will tune in Tuesday night for the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden at the Cleveland Clinic. Satellite trucks for major networks already line a street near the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion.
And thanks to the late surge by the Indians, the Tribe will host the New York Yankees in the first round of the baseball playoffs Tuesday a few miles away at Progressive Field.
Clevelanders are shut out of both big events, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
But we can’t wait to see how the city will be showcased in each contest: which shots they’ll show of downtown or Lake Erie and how they’ll portray Cleveland’s past big nights, from the 2016 Republican National Convention or the heartbreaking loss of Game 7 in the World Series that same year.
Tuesday’s 90-minute debate begins at 9 p.m. and will be moderated by Chris Wallace, focusing on the candidates’ records, the Supreme Court, the coronavirus, the economy, race and violence in the cities and the integrity of the election.
Balls and strikes will be the topics at the corner of Ontario Street and Carnegie Avenue as the Indians take on arguably the most popular baseball team in the country, in a best-of-three American League Wild Card series at home.
“It’s big,” said Franmil Reyes, who smashed a three-run home run Sunday. “This is our city. We feel proud to play in our stadium and give Cleveland what they deserve — very good games and a championship.”
The Indians clinched home field and the No. 4 seed in the AL Sunday afternoon when they came from behind to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-6, and when the Chicago White Sox lost. Down 6-2, the Tribe scored three runs in the seventh and eighth innings to do their part.
About an hour later, the White Sox lost, giving Cleveland and Chicago identical 35-25 records. Cleveland was awarded the No. 4 seed because it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker, winning eight of the 10 games against the White Sox this season, including a four-game sweep at Progressive Field last week.
Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games are at 7 p.m. and both will be televised on ESPN. All games will be played in Cleveland to limit coronavirus exposure. The teams will play Thursday if a Game 3 is necessary, but no time has been announced.
But first, Cleveland hits the big time on Tuesday. We won’t have to worry about rush hour traffic jams. Just basking in our glow, as Bieber and Frankie battle the Yankees, and Trump and Biden take the stage.
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