Tribe doing what needs to be done
Honestly, folks, this was going to be another "Golly-I-can't-believe-how-great-the-Browns-are" column because I really am still giddy over how competitive the Browns have become. (Only in Cleveland do you wax incredibly optimistic over a football team that is 6-7-1.)
So why am I bailing on the best football team this town has seen in – literally – decades (including the paper lion team of 2007)? The thing is, the Browns have their future directly in front of them, with plenty of upside and excitement ahead as long as their owner doesn't get too involved in running the franchise.
The Cavs' future is presently so far down the road that there is a very good chance that not a single player on their current roster will be around when the Cavs are even a playoff contender (yes, they are that bad). In other words, don't ask Santa for Cavs tickets this year. Or the next. Or the next. You'll need the Hubble telescope to find the Cavs in the playoffs again.
That leaves the Indians, who have been competitive for the last half decade, and even unto itself that is a pretty impressive stretch. The flip side – which is equally unimpressive – is that the Indians have slid backwards in each of the last two years after reaching the World Series in 2016. At the time, the Indians shocked all of baseball with their incredible run to the World Series with a shell of a pitching staff.
That success gave the Indians swagger, and in 2017 they had an air of confidence – of "mojo" if you will – that took them rocketing into the playoffs after a team record winning streak and 100+ victories. The Indians talked tough, and backed it up. They played tough; they were the neighborhood bullies.
The bullies won the first two games against the New York Yankees in a best-of-five first round playoff, and then the wheels came off. They lost three straight, were eliminated from the playoffs, and have been searching for that mojo ever since. They were pathetic in 2018, looking totally overmatched while being swept in the first round against the Astros.
Thankfully, Indians GM Chris Antonetti has recognized the problem and has attempted to inject new life into the roster, bringing in old pal Carlos Santana and rising star Jake Bauers while unloading Edwin Encarnacion and Yandy Diaz. Encarnacion always had decent stats but did so "quietly" – in such a manner that he never seemed to impact games when we needed him – and Yandy Diaz is a good hitter who never could seem to win a starting job with the Tribe.
More changes loom. Don't be surprised if Jason Kipnis, Yonder Alonso, Lonnie Chisenhall, and maybe even a few others are not on the roster when training camp opens in a couple of months.
The Indians have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, but the window is slowly closing on the Indians' World Series Championship opportunities for the near-term.
The good news is that Chris Antonetti is not afraid to stick his head through that window.
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!