Sometimes it is easy to forget. It is easy to forget when your depleted baseball team walks through the American League playoffs with just one loss and pushes the World Series’ favorites to extra innings of Game 7. It is easy to forget when your team wrecks all opposition by not just winning 22 games in a row, but also destroys teams throughout the streak. It is easy to forget when your team wins its division by 17 games despite the second-place team making the postseason. It is easy to forget when your team has everything go wrong- including falling behind by five runs- but still manages to find victory and put themselves within one win of the American League Championship Series. However, no matter how easy it is to forget, at some point, there will be a stark reminder that baseball is hard. Hard to play, hard to predict, and impossible to create an invincible team to guard against all possible negative outcomes.
The Cleveland Indians and their fans were reminded on Sunday night that baseball is hard when Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees gutted out a win with the only run coming from Greg Bird hitting a home run off 2016 postseason mythical-creature Andrew Miller. The Indians finally had their first ice bucket challenge of the reality fall upon their heads.
It doesn’t mean the mindset of the Tribe should change. It doesn’t mean the ALDS has changed in any dramatic way. All it means is that the fickle beast of postseason baseball is impossible to tame. Whether Game 4 is on Monday or Tuesday (pending weather), the team needs to understand the harsh reality of their place within such an existence and respond to the challenge.
Momentum is supposedly the next game’s starting pitcher, which gives the Yankees the advantage given Luis Severino was an AL Cy Young candidate and Trevor Bauer will be pitching on short rest with a not-so-great history of pitching off his regular routine (though to be noted usually with added rest, not less). Such advantages didn’t help the Yanks in the AL Wild Card game. So, the Indians need to not allow a hard-fought loss in Game 3 affect their mindset and be ready to cast doubt into the postseason acumen of Severino by helping him have another bad start. Baseball is meant to be hard, but as Tom Hanks famously said in A League of Their Own “The hard is what makes it great.”