Dealing With This Year’s Disappointment

This morning, Cleveland Indians fans are dealing with that familiar gut-punch feeling of deep disappointment.  Last night the Tribe got bounced from the playoffs by the New York Yankees, and the magical 2017 season, which saw the Indians set an American League record of 22 straight wins and win more than 100 games for only the third time in the team’s history, is abruptly over.

cleveland-indians-world-series-game-7-lossThe loss means that, when next year rolls around and the Tribe tries again, it will be a full 70 years — 70 years! — since Cleveland last won a World Series.  It’s now the longest such streak in Major League Baseball.

The fact that the Tribe lost to the Yankees, the perennial winners who have taken home more than a dozen World Series titles since the Cleveland last hoisted a World Series championship banner, makes the loss doubly painful.  The fact that the Indians lost after leading the series 2-0, notching an improbable comeback win in game two, and putting the Yankees on the brink of elimination, before collapsing in an uncharacteristic haze of errors and offensive futility — well, that just shoves the pain into the brutal, off-the-charts category that long-time Cleveland fans know all too well.

Watching the game wind down to its ugly conclusion last night, I saw the pictures of overtly prayerful Tribe fans hoping against hope that this year the result might be different — and I knew exactly how they felt.  But when it comes to the Cleveland Indians, the fates simply are not kind, and no amount of heartfelt beseeching of the baseball gods is going to change that.

So last night after the game ended we tossed and turned and slept poorly, fretting about this latest disappointment.  It’s kind of embarrassing to react so strongly to a sporting event, when our rational sides know that it is after all just a game that pales in comparison to the really important things in life — but that’s what sports fans do. We give our hearts to a team, willing to endure the angst of losses and thinking that when our team does win we’ll recoup that investment a hundredfold.  We just can’t help feeling deeply affected by these kinds of painful losses — and with the star-crossed Indians, the celebration of ultimate triumph still hasn’t come and seems as unlikely as ever.

Time will give us some perspective, and Tribe fans will always have that wonderful winning streak to remember, just like Rick and Ilsa will always have Paris.  But for now we’ve just watched another potential championship climb into a plane with the New York Yankees and fly away.  Boy, it really stings!

 

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Damn Yankees!

The New York Yankees are in Cleveland to face the Indians.  Last night’s contest was a good illustration of why I — and countless other baseball fans — hate the Yankees with every fiber of our beings.

The mighty Yankees, who have won more World Series titles than any other franchise, have the best record in the American League.  Last night they put C.C. Sabathia, one of the best pitchers in the majors, on the mound, and their lineup features all-stars and future Hall of Famers, like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson.  The valiant Tribe, which has surprisingly scratched its way to a small lead in the AL Central on the strength of fine pitching and some timely hitting, started pitcher Carlos Carrasco and their standard lineup of largely unheralded players.  Sabathia, the rumpled giant with his trademark cockeyed cap, pitched seven hitless innings while the Yankee bats got to Carrasco, and the Yankees won, 9-2.

Of course, Sabathia used to be an Indian, where he was one of my favorite players.  He developed into a great pitcher in Cleveland, but the Tribe couldn’t afford to keep him — just like they couldn’t afford to keep Cliff Lee, and Manny Ramirez, and Jim Thome, and many other excellent players who came up in the Cleveland farm system.  Major League Baseball will never have true competitive balance while small-market teams like the Indians must sign untested players to long-term contracts and hope they develop into quality major leaguers, only to see them leave for more money when those contracts are up — whereas ultra-wealthy franchises like the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Phillies, flush with TV and merchandising money, can afford to sign every proven, high-priced free agent to add even more punch to their lineups.

Damn Yankees!

Baseball Is Boring

Wow, the Yankees won the World Series! What a shock! The Yankees and other big-market teams have more money than other teams, pick up the big-dollar free agents and assemble de facto All Star teams, and win championships. Ho hum.

Seriously, does anyone find major league baseball interesting anymore? What possible pleasure is there in watching just to see if the Yankees won’t win every year?