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The Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2009: #4
December 29, 2009 · By Erik Cassano
The final year of the first decade of the 21st Century was, once again, devoid of world championships for Cleveland's teams. The Cavaliers mounted a serious charge, but didn't have the height or muscle to match up with the Orlando Magic, and were turned back in the conference finals.

On December 27, the anniversary of the Browns' victory in the 1964 NFL Championship Game, the title drought will officially reach 45 years.

But even without trophies or rings, there was still plenty to remember from the sports year 2009 in Cleveland. From the good (anything involving LeBron James or Josh Cribbs) to the bad (another Tribe fire sale) to the ugly (Braylon Edwards slugging a friend of LeBron's, then getting traded) it was another eventful sports year on the North Coast.

Between now and the end of December, we'll unveil our top 10 Cleveland sports moments from 2009. Sit back and re-live the year that was. 

The Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2009: #10-#8

The Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2009: #7-#5

4. Eric Wedge fired as Tribe's manager, replaced by Manny Acta

September 30 and October 25

A year ago, Eric Wedge managed to keep himself off the hot seat by rallying his sub-.500 team to an 81-81 finish. But in 2009, that wasn't in the cards.

The Indians swooned through much of September en route to a 65-97 record, their worst since losing a franchise-record 105 games in 1991. With a week to go in the season, Mark Shapiro finally made the decision to pull the plug on Wedge's seven-year tenure as Tribe manager.

It was a far cry from the ALCS, where Wedge had led the Indians just two years previous. But a steady decline, hastened by management's purge of high-priced talent the past two summers, put Wedge on the fast track to losing his job.

Whether you liked Wedge as a manager or not, seven years is longer than most Major League managers get, and the Tribe's now-young core of players probably needed a new voice in the clubhouse.

That new voice arrived about a month after the season ended, when former Washington Nationals skipper Manny Acta was hired as Wedge's replacement.

Acta's two-plus years at the helm of the Nationals weren't spectacular. The club compiled a 158-252 record under Acta, before he was fired midway through the 2009 season with the Nationals an MLB-worst 26-61. But Acta, 40, is an experienced manager and coach, with a coaching resume dating back all the way to the age of 23.

Acta comes to Cleveland with some strong references, including Mets GM Omar Minaya, who gave Shapiro strong recommendations on Acta. He was the Mets' third base coach in 2005 and '06.

Acta was also a prime target of the Astros, the team that initially signed him as a player at age 17 and gave him his first managing job. But Acta turned down the Astros job and accepted a three-year deal, with a club option for a fourth, to try his hand at leading the rebuilding Indians. 

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