This blog has been silent through the September wild card chases, and it took the Indians’ disheartening performance last night to stir me to write again.
Although their pitching ranged from acceptable to excellent, the Indians failed utterly at the plate. I credit a gutty performance by the Rays’ starter for much of that, but the Tribe’s inability to drive in runs was largely their own doing.
The worst was Nick Swisher striking out late in the game with two men on and a great chance to score. Swisher took three vicious, aim-for-Lake-Erie cuts. The first? OK. Why not take a chance. But the second and third roundhouse swings were inexcusable when solid contact putting the ball in play would have brought something good. Every kid in Cleveland who ever played sandlot ball knows that. But Buckeye native Swisher evidently forgot. The Indians’ hopes for a comeback evaporated as he headed back to the bench.
The one-game wild card playoff is just another tease to lure Indians’ fans into another round of false hope. I imagine in a year or two, Major League Baseball will, in an effort to squeeze out even more TV revenue, propose another pre-qualifying round of playoffs, maybe with five-inning games, all to tantalize and taunt Cleveland fans (increasingly few who remain alive or in memory of the last champions from 1948). For 2013, we’re stuck with the memory of watching the Rays — an expansion team that plays in a dome — celebrate at Jacobs Field while our guys sat glumly in the dugout.
Realistically, the Indians were lucky even to get a shot in the post-season, which lasted a measly three-plus hours. During the season, they beat up on the weaklings (many in their own hapless AL Central Division) and struggled against the elite teams, most shamefully against Detroit.
No, this was not a championship-caliber team, and we Tribe fans will endure another gray winter needled by a bitter wind off Lake Erie, waiting for a new season to begin. On this sad, predictable morning, it’s tough to find hope amid the pain.