Why the Indians will do it this year
When it comes to sports in Cleveland, the Indians have always been number one with me. Given their overall track record since 1901, invariably the reaction to that statement is "Why?"
It's a valid inquiry. I remember following the Tribe starting in the early '60s. Unfortunately, for most of my early life, every time the Indians would shock the world with a respectable season – "respectable" usually being defined by making it through the season without 90 or more losses – the Tribe would annihilate our dreams the following year by doing a deep-six.
I remember teams in 1968 and 1986 getting national attention for having surprisingly decent ball clubs, only to follow up in 1969 and 1987 with horrific teams. To put it in perspective, from the mid-'60s to mid-'90s the Indians were awful. So we're looking at generations of bad baseball, folks. Not "down" years, but "down" decades.
Things finally began to change for the Tribe in 1994, but even that came with disappointment. The Indians, finally a legitimate World Series contender, were stymied by something other than a lack of talent: a player's strike. I mean seriously ... what are the odds?
In spite of the torture in 1994, the Indians were contenders from 1995 into the turn of the century, reaching the World Series twice (1995 and 1997), but not capturing a world championship. Lastly, in 2007 the Indians looked to be on the verge of another trip to the Fall Classic, but choked up a 3-1 series lead to the Boston Red Sox. It's been sorry teams and sorry results ever since. (And sorry I brought it up.)
Anyone who has read this Sporting Views column in recent years knows I don't get on the Indians bandwagon too quickly. However, this year I think the Tribe is finally about to turn the corner, and even more encouraging is that they appear capable of sustaining success for several years, to boot. The top three of Kluber, Carrasco and Salazar are all potential No. 1 starters, and the rotation includes Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin, the two guys most responsible for the Tribe's impressive rally at the end of last year.
I'm happy to see that manager Terry Francona has decided to send former starter Trevor Bauer to the bullpen. The kid has a ton of talent – probably as much as the other starters – but so far, all he's done with the Indians is demonstrate why the team obtained him so easily in a trade. I think Francona is merely sending a wake-up call to Bauer, who is awesome when he's on, and putrid when he's not. If Bauer gets his act together, look out.
The biggest key for the Indians is to start the season by playing well in April and May, a real problem for the tribe since Francona took over as manager. If they can enter June with a record above .500 – preferably better than that – they will be tough to stop, even for the World Champion Kansas City Royals.
So buckle up, Tribe fans, it's going to be special.
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!