Injuries can be a real pain
What attracts us to sports? The magnetic effect which draws us to sports is its inherent unpredictability; hence the ever-famous “Wait ‘til next year” phrase, probably repeated more in this city than anywhere else in the civilized (and uncivilized, for that matter) world. The sport doesn’t really matter; for after every contest in any sport, there is a winner and there is a loser. (And yes, I know about “ties” in football, hockey and soccer, but stay focused here or you’ll miss the point).
The promise (often confused with hope: see Cleveland Browns) that this year will be much better than the previous one is what compels a typical sports fan to continue following his/her team(s) even after a year (or years) of “entertainment” that is usually more easily equated to excruciating torture. Just the mere chance of players improving upon their previous season’s performance is what gives that fan the inner strength to soldier on, no matter how depressing the odds might be. And in reality, those odds are pretty long, because generally, when one player improves, another one struggles, which typically results in a “wash” anyway.
So, if the talent level remains relatively stable over the short term, what makes a good team quickly go bad, and similarly, a bad team become more competitive in a relatively short period of time? Simple, Simon: injuries. Injuries are the “X” factor in sports, which turn promising seasons into nightmares, cause managers/coaches to be fired, and convince potential ticket buyers to stay away from the box office.
Look at the Cavs for example: One minute they look like they have completely loaded up for the playoffs with the signing of Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut, to coincide with the return of Kevin Love and J.R. Smith from – you guessed it – injuries, and what happens? Bogut does a deep six to his season (and possibly his career) with a nasty injury. The same night Kevin Love returns to the lineup, Iman Shumpert and Kyrie Irving go out indefinitely with injuries. Make no mistake: The Cavs are still loaded with talent and will go deep into the playoffs unless something catastrophic happens to LBJ (in which case they probably couldn’t beat the Brooklyn Nets), but it will be more difficult.
And that brings us to my beloved Tribe. No sooner do I predict 96 victories and a return to the World Series, than Jason Kipnis’ problems with his rotator cuff are more serious than expected. (Note to Tribe medical staff: You should have sat him the first day of spring training; rotator cuff problems take a long time to heal. Heck, Dr. Phil could have diagnosed that one.) And now Carlos Carrasco is shutting down for an indefinite period? What next?
I’ll tell you what’s next: a return trip to the World Series. That’s how good these guys are going to be. And I’ll bet you thought I was going to try and cover myself for my optimistic prediction of the Indians last issue, didn’t you? Not to worry folks, for the Indians will be, as Tony the Tiger used to say, “G-r-r-r-r-e-e-e-a-a-a-a-t!”
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!