Not breaking bad: Indians bumble success
Yes, I was at the Indians' one-and-done playoff game against the Rays. Yes, the atmosphere was electric – to the extent that my son and I had a blast, in spite of the loss. And yes, if I begin one more sentence with "yes," you'll no-doubt suspect that Terry Pluto wrote this column. Heck, nobody likes a yes-man anyway, do they?
When you think about it, it's pretty remarkable the way the stars aligned in such a manner which allowed the Indians and Browns to bask in the national spotlight on consecutive evenings in early October. Of course, after the Rays dismantled the Indians (I'll address that in a moment) and the Browns went down ten-zip to Buffalo just before losing Brian Hoyer to what ultimately would prove to be a season-ending injury, it was starting to resemble yet just another Cleveland joke.
Fortunately for the Cleveland sports fans, Travis Benjamin had a career night, and as soon as Buffalo was forced to go to their back-up quarterback, Browns back-up Brandon Weeden only needed to be competent for the Browns to pull out a victory. (And isn't it amazing how only 18 or so months ago, Brandon Weeden was regarded as a first-round "savior" for the Browns? I'm pretty sure alcohol sales at Buffalo game tripled when Hoyer was injured and fans realized Weeden – by default – was their guy).
But, back to the Indians. I wasn't really surprised at the outcome of the game, as the game itself was a fairly good microcosm (of course I know what the word means) of the Indians' season anyway: Decent (but not great) starting pitching, lack of clutch hitting, end of story – and season – as well.
Everyone knows how the Indians won their last 10 games to qualify for the wild card game, and I remember how jubilant the Tribe's locker room was after they secured the home field "advantage" for the wildcard game. Everyone spoke of how the Indians weren't expected to be there and how nobody expected them to get this far, back in spring training.
And maybe that's what bugs me. Because not only did they play like they were happy just to have made it as far as they did, it also seemed like that was still the prevailing theme after they lost to Tampa Bay. The old "don't discount the strides we made this year" mentality. They were still patting themselves on their collective backs for having gotten as far as they did; I don't remember any quotes from players (or management) about how disappointed or angry they were about losing. All comments were directed at "taking the next step" next year.
I certainly hope things go the way the Indians envision them going in 2014. I do know that, sports being fairly unpredictable and all – especially in Cleveland (there, I said it) – there are no guarantees we'll be back in the playoffs in 2014. Freak injuries (ask Brian Hoyer), off years (ask Asdrubal Cabrera), one-and-done career years (ask Fausto Carmona) can make a promising team go south pretty quick (ask the 2007 Indians).
I kind of wish they'd tried a little harder to "take the next step" this year.
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!