100 Wins

Yesterday afternoon the Cleveland Indians won their 100th game of the year, beating the Minnesota Twins 5-2.  The Tribe got another terrific starting pitching performance, this time from Carlos Carrasco, who pitched 8 shutout innings, struck out 14 batters, and now stands at 18-6 on the year.

usatsi_10313296_1506620201223_11256969_ver1-0100 wins is a nice round number.  It’s also an historic achievement of sorts.  This is only the third time in their 100-plus year history that the Indians have won 100 games in a season, and it took an historic winning streak to do it.  And in baseball generally, 100-win seasons don’t necessarily happen every year.  Eight teams in the big leagues have never won 100 games, and  these days the economics of  the game tend to discourage team owners and general managers from assembling the combination of talent that can win 100 games, because it’s going to be expensive and there’s a good chance that lots of the players will be moving on, leaving you to rebuild from scratch.  Better to aim for those teams that can consistently win 90 games and that you can hold together over a few years.

In our modern world, we tend to measure every athletic team by whether they won it all, and regular seasons are eclipsed by the playoffs, where short series and bad breaks can bring down dominant teams.  Many 100-win teams haven’t won the World Series, and this year — because both the Dodgers and the Indians have reached that number — there will be at least one more 100-win team that doesn’t win it all.  That’s just the way the ball bounces in baseball.

But, for the true fan, what happens in the post-season shouldn’t detract from what happens during the regular season.  Baseball is a marathon, and winning 100 games takes focus, careful management, and meaningful contributions from everybody on the roster.  It’s a true team accomplishment, because during those 100 wins different players are going to have to step up and make the big hit, or the tremendous fielding play, or the crucial pitch to allow another W to go into the record books.

2017 has been a remarkable year for the Cleveland Indians, and a marvelous year for those of us who are long-time fans of the Tribe.  Here’s hoping it continues!

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Only 39 Years To Go

Last night’s World Series finale was an instant classic.  Long after the clocks on the east coast passed midnight, and those of us working stiffs were wondering just how long we would be able to stay up to watch the spectacle, the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-7, in extra innings.

img_3061-1I’m tempted to add “of course” in that last sentence, because beneath my seemingly normal, rationalist exterior lurks a dark baseball fan soul filled with twisted corridors of gloom and doom, jinxes and bad breaks, lowered expectations and grimly anticipated disasters. When you’ve been a fan of a professional sports team for your entire life, and that team has known nothing but ultimate heartbreaks and bitter defeats on the yawning cusp of victory, it’s virtually impossible to think and feel anything else.

But maybe the Cubs’ victory signals that failure is not inevitable, and that fortunes for star-crossed teams like the Indians and their fans can change.  With their gutty victory last night, the Cubs ended their 108-year period of misery.  That leaves Cleveland’s soon to be 69-year run without a World Series championship the longest streak in American professional baseball.  Perhaps the Tribe and their fans have only another 39 years to go before they, too, can know the thrill of hoisting the World Series trophy.

In the meantime, hats off to the Cubs and their loyal cadre of fans, who rooted like crazy and helped to will their team to victory.  And hats off to the Indians, too, for an unforgettable season.  I was proud of the Tribe’s grit, their unwillingness to let a series of crucial injuries thwart their season, and their improbable comeback to tie game 7 in the eighth inning against one of the most dominant relievers in baseball.  A tip of the cap, too, to Terry Francona for being a managerial wizard who pulled every string along the way.

And, hey — this year I got to see my team win the opening game of the World Series with my son and my brother.  That’s something that I’ll always remember with great fondness, even if the Series itself didn’t end up as we all hoped.

Counting On The Klubot

The last two games haven’t worked out very well for the Cleveland Indians.  After surging to a 3-1 lead in the World Series — and being a tantalizing one game away from the World Series title that has eluded the Tribe since 1948 — the Indians lost a close game in Chicago and then had a train wreck last night in Cleveland.

So now the Series is knotted, 3-3, and tonight’s game will determine the champion.  After the last two games, Chicago Cubs players and fans have regained their swagger and are expecting to be the first team in years to win after trailing 3-1.  Tribe fans, on the other hand, are hoping that a team that has been riddled with injuries to key players can somehow win just one, last game.

World Series Cubs Indians BaseballTonight Cleveland will be banking on pitcher Corey Kluber — known to some as “Klubot” because of his unchanging expression and apparently unflappable demeanor.  The hope is that Kluber can hold the Cubs’ powerful lineup in check and the Indians’ struggling hitters can produce enough runs to get a lead, and the bullpen can eke out a win and finally get Cleveland that long-dreamed-of World Series title.

Kluber has pitched brilliantly in the playoffs and in the Series so far, but he’s pitching for the second time in a row on three days’ rest.  That means he won’t be following his normal routine, and it also means that Chicago batters will be facing him for the third time in only a few days.  They’ll be looking to make adjustments in how they approach Kluber in view of those two very recent experiences — and we’ve seen in the Series, and in last night’s game particularly, that the Cubs are perfectly capable of changing their approach to Cleveland pitchers.

It’s a lot of pressure to put on Corey Kluber, with the hopes and fervent aspirations of generations of long-disappointed fans riding on his arm — but we hope that, if anyone can handle that pressure, it is the calm, cool, and collected “Klubot.”  Go Tribe!

Series Shots (III)

There’s a lot of hoopla at any championship game, and the World Series opener is no exception.  The crowd got to the game early, with the Chicago Cubs being well represented, and by the time a giant American flag had been rolled out and the National Anthem sung, the fans of both teams were ready to play ball.  The last few minutes before the first pitch seemed to last forever, but then the hoopla ended and a pretty good ballgame broke out.

Series Shots (II)

There were some protesters on the Ontario Street side of the ballpark, advocating for changing the Tribe’s name and Chief Wahoo.  I agree with them about Chief Wahoo, and I get the point about the name — but it’s hard to imagine a Cleveland baseball team being called anything but the Indians.  And, I think “the Tribe” is a pretty cool and inclusive nickname.

The protesters look like they have an uphill battle, as the photo below suggests.  Chief Wahoo was seen pretty much everywhere.

Series Shots


Russell, UJ, and I had a blast at Game One of the World Series last night.  Downtown Vleveland was packed before the game, and the area between the ballpark and the Cavs’ arena — where the Cavs were to play, and win, their season opener — was especially jammed.  Two big screen TVs were set up to play season highlights and get both the Cavs fans and the Tribe fans fired up.