For just the sixth time in franchise history, which spans 116 seasons, the Cleveland Indians are American League Champions!
For most of our life, at the beginning of baseball season, we would buy the Street and Smith’s Baseball Issue, and look at the composite World Series standings.
Every year, it would show Cleveland: 2 wins, 1 loss.
In those days, and we are talking the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, we wondered what it would be like to get to the Fall Classic and change those numbers.
Then came the 90’s and Jacobs Field, and the Tribe got to two Series in three seasons, but they couldn’t get it done.
The composite standings changed to Cleveland: 2 wins, 3 losses, and will have stayed that way until the end of this year’s World Series.
It been 19 years since the heart breaking loss to the Florida Marlins in the seventh game. However, for fans of our generation, it is pretty damn cool that the Indians will be in their third Fall Classic in the last 21 years.
That may sound odd, but when you go 41 years between appearances in the Series, not having to go through another drought that long is great.
And although the players celebrated the six pennant in club history with gusto, to a man, and not surprisingly, they know they haven’t accomplished anything yet.
Terry Francona all but clinched a spot in the Hall of Fame as a manager, winning his third American League title, and doing it with two teams.
He did it losing two key pieces of his starting rotation, the strength of the team coming into the season, in September. He lost another starter to a drone injury just prior to the first game of the League Championship Series.
Tito did it because he managed unconventionally, particularly with the use of his bullpen, although part of that is due to the unselfish nature of the LCS MVP Andrew Miller and the Tribe’s closer Cody Allen.
Both told the skipper to use them whenever he needed them, and that speaks to the ultimate trust the players have in their manager.
The Tribe doesn’t have the big names of the Red Sox and Blue Jays, the two teams they defeated to get to the Series, nor are they known nationally like many players on the Cubs and Dodgers, the two teams who are playing to face Cleveland next week.
It was fitting that Miller mentioned Francisco Lindor after game one, saying he deserves more notice nationally than he’s been getting. The young Tribe shortstop is one of the up and coming stars in the sport.
And speaking of Miller, the best deadline trade acquisition we can think of in recent years, we wonder if the man who used to run the Indians, current Blue Jays’ president Mark Shapiro, would have pulled the trigger on getting the big lefty.
Our guess is he wouldn’t have, because he never had made a move that big. Perhaps that’s due to the barren nature of the Cleveland farm system (which falls at Shapiro’s feet), but it doesn’t feel like Miller would be an Indian.
Which leads us to a tip of the hat to president Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff. Besides Miller, they went out and got Brandon Guyer (three hits in ALDS Game 2), and Coco Crisp, who has been all over the post-season, including homers in both clinch games and a great catch in game three of the LCS.
So, this team, which has overcome injuries to perhaps its best player coming into the year in Michael Brantley, their starting catcher in Yan Gomes, and the aforementioned two starters, needs to win four more games to break its own 68 year world title drought.
It will no doubt be difficult, but we wouldn’t bet again another title for the Cleveland area, just four months after the Cavs broke the 52 year span without one.