The Tribe And The Tabbies

Tonight the Cleveland Indians start a huge four-game series against the Detroit Tigers.  It comes at a crucial point in the season, with the Tribe three games behind the Tigers and both teams playing well.  Detroit has won 12 of its last 13, and the Indians have won 10 of their last 11 games.

Unfortunately, this year the Tigers have beaten the snot out of the Tribe.  They’ve won 9 of 12, and in many of those games the outcome wasn’t close.

As a Cleveland fan, I’ve given careful thought to how I personally, through my own actions, can cause ripples in the karma and help the Tribe win.  Like every true fan, I know that jinxes, and reverse jinxes, and lucky shirts, and rally caps really do make a difference.  The fickle sports gods sense these kinds of things and adjust results accordingly.  A routine grounder to short might hit a pebble and ricochet past the fielder to bring home a key run.  A fine bunt might take an abrupt left turn and go foul.  A sudden gust of wind might keep a game-winning homer in the ballpark.  In such ways do the gods dictate the outcome, after carefully studying every lucky charm, evil spell, confident prediction, and other instance of fan behavior and adjusting the cosmic scales accordingly.

I’ve refrained from writing about the Tigers and the Tribe because I didn’t want to jinx the Cleveland nine.  Obviously, that didn’t work.  So I’m going with the George Costanza opposite approach.  I’m writing this post about this crucial series to try to change the fates, and tonight I’ll watch the game even though that usually means bad luck will befall the Indians.  What kind of fan would I be if I didn’t try something to help bring home a victory?

ETA:  My carefully laid plans obviously failed to account for the Curse of Chris Perez.  After the Tribe took a 2-0 lead into the top of the ninth, their unpredictable closer got bombed for four runs and the Indians lost, 4-2.  The gods are unkind, indeed.

The Embassy Closures

The United States closed 21 of its embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa on Sunday, and most of those facilities will remain closed this week.

As usual, our government seems incapable of speaking with one voice on exactly why it has taken such a step.  The State Department says the closures are “out of an abundance of caution” and not in response to a new threat, whereas talking heads on the Sunday shows said the closures were in response to the most serious threat identified by intelligence-gathering efforts in several years.  There also has been an apparent intelligence leak disclosing that the United States reportedly intercepted an exchange of messages between al Qaeda leaders about a plot against an embassy.

Although I wish our government could get its act together on messaging, I don’t see a viable alternative to closing the embassies.  If we have received credible intelligence information that our embassies and consulates in the Muslim world are targets of an impending attack, there are few options.  Physical security arrangements can’t be enhanced overnight; far better to get our people out of harm’s way until better information about the threat is developed.  Although some people may criticize that course as showing weakness, it seems like the only prudent option.  We don’t need another Benghazi-like situation.

The deeper issue here is what this apparent threat means about al Qaeda itself.  With the killing of Osama bin Laden and the publicized deaths of countless “high-ranking al Qaeda leaders” over the years, we’ve been led to believe that al Qaeda has been severely diminished.  If al Qaeda is capable of attacking an American embassy, that fact suggests a resurgent organization — or one about whom the reports of decline have been greatly exaggerated.  If the former is true, how much of the resurgence is due to the bad feelings generated by the continuing American presence in the Middle East and our aggressive use of drones?

The recognition of substantial al Qaeda capabilities that is implicit in the decision to close the embassies is sobering, to say the least.