While many sports fans in northeastern Ohio are worrying about who will be the back up offensive tackle and who will handle the punting chores for the Cleveland Browns, they are missing a pretty good drama taking place with the Cleveland Indians.
You see, the Tribe is in the mix for a playoff spot. And unlike the other sports teams in the city, who promise winning at some point in time, the Indians are winning.
They currently sit ten games over the .500 mark going into tonight game with the Angels, and are coming home for a weekend series with the Twins before heading out for a brutal trip to Atlanta and Detroit.
To be sure, it would be nice if Terry Francona’s squad would mix in an 8-2 victory from time to time, but the closeness of the games being played nightly only add to the intensity of a playoff chase that seemingly everyone is missing.
As we have said before, part of the indifference is the Indians fault. They spent several off-seasons trying to get talent out of the MLB dumpster until last winter, and the ownership made several odd statements to the fans, alienating more than a few of them.
They also could have changed radio stations last season, but opted to stay on news/talk station WTAM, instead of going to one of the all sports station in the city.
Do you really think 92.3 The Fan would be talking Browns 90% of the day if four hours of their evening programming was the Indians?
The argument that you hear for not taking the Tribe seriously this season is their inability to play well against the Tigers, their rival for the Central Division title.
Do you know what? Who cares!
This is baseball. It doesn’t matter if you beat Detroit just as long as you beat other teams enough to qualify for a playoff spot. The fact of the matter is Francona’s team has won 68 games (the same total as all of last year) so far, and if they qualify for the post-season, that’s all that matters.
In baseball, any team that makes the tournament has a chance, unlike the NBA where the 8th seed has little chance to take down the team with the best record.
And it doesn’t matter what your record was against any other team was during the regular season once the playoffs start.
In 2007, the last time the Tribe made the playoffs, they went 0-6 in the regular season against the Yankees. They promptly won three of four in the first round series against the Bronx Bombers, eliminating them.
Cleveland sports fans talk all the time about wanting a winner. No matter what the Indians have done in the past, no matter how badly the front office mangled things, no matter how they have played against the Tigers, they are winning and they are in contention to make the playoffs.
And the last time any Cleveland team did that, LeBron James was wearing a Cavaliers’ uniform.
Yes, things are looking up for the Browns and Cavs, but they haven’t done anything yet. Meanwhile, the area’s baseball team is in a pennant race, albeit a non-traditional one.
Unfortunately, most sports fans seem to be missing it for a bunch of petty reasons.