Will Tribe learn from Cavs’ mistake?
It was only a year ago that the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the sports world by coming back from a 3-1 deficit to wrestle away the NBA Championship from the Golden State Warriors. Slightly more than four months later, the Cleveland Indians took the Chicago Cubs to extra innings in the seventh game of the World Series before falling to the boys from the Windy City.
This past NBA season, the Cavaliers looked like anything but NBA champs, stumbling their way to a 51-31 record, despite playing in the competitively challenged NBA Eastern Conference. And they looked downright awful at times in the process. Many commentators, and fans alike, spoke of the Cavs “flipping the switch” once the playoffs began – that the regular season was merely a warm-up for the playoffs.
For a while, it looked as if that was indeed the case, since the Cavs breezed through the playoffs with relative ease, compiling a 12-1 record against the Eastern Conference playoff teams. The Cavs simply had too much talent when facing conference foes, which only served to enhance their belief that they were too good to lose.
A funny thing happened on the way to their second consecutive championship, though: the Golden State Warriors. One heck of a team a year ago, the Warriors became a super team when they added Kevin Durant this past off-season. Apparently the Cavs were not impressed, as they waltzed into Oakland fully expecting to successfully defend their title. The Cavs got totally smoked the first two games, played better the third game but inexplicably choked away a victory, and then finally blew out the Warriors in game four. There were not going to be any miracles this year, however, as the Cavs lost a close one in game five.
The biggest difference I noted in the series was that the Warriors, who won 67 games in the regular season, were ready to play from the opening tipoff and the Cavs were not – at least not to the level required to compete with the Warriors. The Cavs played better than the previous game (with the exception of the final game when they were clearly gassed), which suggests they had lost their focus regarding what it would take to beat the Warriors. They didn’t figure things out until the damage was done.
Along come the Indians, who apparently think that simply appearing in the World Series is the epitome of success. The team is having a Cavs-like season: sleepwalking though most of the first half to date and, presumably, waiting to turn on the afterburners when they actually need to. And sure, they’ve had some minor injuries here and there but there is too much talent to not be running away with the competitively challenged (I used this term earlier – see a pattern here?) Central Division. And yes, the Tribe will get it in gear eventually, and life will be all rosy once more.
But we’ve seen what happens when the goal is to “just tread water” until the team needs to win. Doesn’t always work out … just ask the Cavs. And besides, Indians, the Cavs were basking in the aura of a World Championship. You can’t even make that claim. This is your time to shine.
Now do it.
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!