Before the baseball season started, we felt the Cleveland Indians were a fourth place team. This was based on the feeling that the offense hasn’t really improved from last season, and the starting pitching was not up to par.
So, our expectations for this season were not really high. As life long Indians fans, we hope to be wrong. We watch every game with the anticipation of a Tribe win, and no one hopes our prediction is wrong more than us.
It would be the ultimate thrill for the Indians to win the AL Central Division and bring home the first World Series title for this city since 1948.
That’s why it’s funny to read the reaction of some fans after this past weekend’s disaster in Chicago.
Thursday evening, Tribe fans were fired up after a three game sweep against the Tigers that gave Cleveland a 3-1/2 game lead over the White Sox and six games over Detroit. Heck, the Wahoos even beat defending Cy Young Award winner and league MVP Justin Verlander in the series finale.
Today, many of these same fans are wondering if the Indians will ever win another game.
Right now, the Indians rank 8th in the American League in runs scored, and 12th in team ERA. Not exactly the right combination for a team that wants to contend for a division title.
But that’s the beauty of baseball.
The 1987 Minnesota Twins were outscored on the season by their opponents, and arguably are the worst team to ever win the World Series. However, they still have the trophy, and Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, and Bert Blyleven all wear their championship rings proudly.
As for this weekend, it reminded us of a series in 1991 involving the Tribe and the Oakland A’s, then the defending AL champs. The Tribe scored 35 runs against them in consecutive games, with Chris James knocking in nine in one contest.
The Tribe finished that season 57-105, the worst in franchise history. As for the A’s, they won the next two games against Baltimore, allowing just three runs in both contests.
Remember that in baseball, momentum is today’s starting pitcher. If Josh Tomlin gives Manny Acta six solid innings today against Kansas City, the memory of White Sox hitters crossing the plate with frequency will soon fade.
If you want to worry, be concerned about the performance of Ubaldo Jimenez, who leads the league in walks, and can’t get hitters out away from Progressive Field. Worry about how the Indians have the statistics of a team who should be 22-25, not 26-21, because they’ve allowed 18 more runs than they’ve scored.
Question how the team has only five solid hitters in their lineup, when good teams have seven. Worry about the health of DH Travis Hafner, one of those five, whose loss would be significant even if he hasn’t been productive this month.
The left field spot has turned into a “vortex of suck” with Johnny Damon hitting .158 and Shelley Duncan batting .200. And fans can be concerned about a bench that has everyone with a batting average under the “Mendoza line”, except for Jose Lopez.
Series like the one over the weekend against Chicago happen to most teams in a given year. If the Indians can have a good week at home against the Royals and Twins, a week from now, it will be mostly erased from memory.
The Tribe doesn’t play the White Sox again until late September. A whole bunch of players could be changed by that point in time.