Regrettably, the Cleveland Guardians couldn’t quite get over the hump in their series with the Yankees. But that sad result doesn’t detract from the fact that the team had a fine season, shocked the baseball world, and made September and October a lot more interesting (and bearable) for Cleveland sports fans. In the process, this group of players, many of them rookies and unknowns, showed that they belonged in the mix of teams contending for the World Series title, and manager Terry (“Tito”) Francona showed again the deftness, leadership, and flexible thinking that make him the best manager in the game.
So I’d like to say thank you to Tito and the boys. Thank you for the 2022 Cinderella story. Thank you for the awesome September stretch run, for dashing to the AL Central title, and for winning the wild-card round in two wonderful nail-biter games. Thank you for giving your fans the incentive to wear SpongeBob Squarepants outfits to games and stay until the final out. Thank you for showing there is still room in baseball for teams that are built on good starting pitching, a well-managed bullpen, stout defense, smart hitting and baserunning, grit, hustle, and a dash of humility. Thank you for not cheating, and for playing the game the right way. Thank you for standing toe to toe with big-payroll teams like the Yankees and not wilting in the glare of pressure and media attention and the taunts of jerky Yankees fans. And finally, thank you for making baseball more innocent and fun again.
I’m sure the baseball bigwigs are happy that the Yankees moved on, and the New York City television market will remain engaged in the playoffs, but I wonder if the casual fans weren’t hoping that the upstart Guardians could knock off the Yankees and continue their magical and improbable run. As for me, with the Guardians going home I’m done with baseball for the year. I’ve heard enough of babbling Bob Costas and his ceaseless statistical chatter to last a lifetime, and there is no one to root for in the AL series between the smug, money-soaked Yankees and the ever-tainted Astros. That’s like making a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.
But I will enjoy some great memories. Thanks to Tito and the boys for that, too.