Happy Tuesday, WFNY!
How are you feeling today? Nervous? Confident?
Me? I’m perfectly calm. Calmer than you are. Shutup, I’m not freaking out, you are!
Yes, here we are again. The Cleveland Indians had a nice lead in a postseason series and just needed one more win to close out the series. And once again, they’ve allowed their opponent to come back and even the series to force a final, deciding game.
This is getting old. Yes, I still remember the 1999 ALDS against the Boston Red Sox. Yes, I remember the 2007 ALCS against the Red Sox. Yes, I remember the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. We’ve seen this scenario play out plenty of times in the past.
I cannot blame any Cleveland fan who is feeling more than a little uneasy this morning. The funny thing is, though, I feel fine. Confident, even. Excited. I’m a little annoyed that the Indians have to burn Corey Kluber again and couldn’t close out the series without having to use him a second time. But truly, the Indians have the best pitcher in baseball starting a game at home on full rest. If you don’t feel good about this, I’m not sure what you’re looking for. It doesn’t get set up any better than this.
Of course, the opponent is CC Sabathia. If anything makes me nervous, it’s that. This feels like one of those storybook situations that are trying to write itself. The former beloved Cy Young ace of the Cleveland Indians squaring off against the current beloved Cy Young ace of the Cleveland Indians. Sabathia is going to pitching for his own personal redemption. Redemption from what, you ask? I said earlier, I remember the 2007 ALCS. I remember Game 5. It was the clash of the titans. Sabathia vs Josh Beckett. A chance, at home, to close out the Red Sox and return to the World Series.
Beckett lived up to his end. 8 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 11 strikeouts. Sabathia? Not so much. 6 IP, 10 hits, 4 ER, 6 strikeouts. To his credit, Sabathia tried to work his way through it as best he could, but he was far from sharp in that game. Far from the normal Sabathia we had grown accustomed to. The Indians never recovered in the series and by 2008, Sabathia was traded to Milwaukee.
For Sabathia’s personal narrative, finishing off the 2017 Indians would be a pretty satisfying end to the story. For the Indians, it would just be more heartbreak.
But still, I’m not terribly worried. I have full confidence in Corey Kluber. As much as I don’t like the decision, still, to not start Kluber in Game 1, this is why the Indians did it the way they did. They wanted Kluber on full rest for Game 5. This is the playbook.
Sure, I’m a little worried that the team’s best hitters aren’t hitting in this series. I’m worried that not only are the not hitting, but they don’t even look like they can see the ball half the time, swinging wildly at pitches outside the zone and not taking advantage of mistakes left in the zone. All season long the Indians have been so opportunistic, striking at even the slightest mistake by their opponents. Suddenly, in this series, that swagger seems to have receded a bit.
For whatever reason, though, I feel good about Game 5. It’s funny, this is a strange time for Cleveland sports fans. I see so many fans freaking out about the Indians. I see so many fans worrying about the Cavs starting Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade together1. In many ways, times have never been better for the Indians and Cavaliers. And yet it seems like some fans are working harder to justify the Browns season and to project optimism about the Browns while fearing doom and gloom with the Indians and Cavaliers.
I’ve been there, myself. It was just a couple weeks ago when I foolishly and laughably projected confidence about the Browns and wrote that I expected them to go 3-3 over their next six games.
On a personal level, though, I’m actually far more optimistic than the tone of this post might lead on. I actually think the Browns are going to go at least 2-1 in the next three and I have them at 3-3 over the next six games. I genuinely love the way this defense plays and I think the offense has even shown it’s capable of putting together drives here and there. A reduction in self-inflicted setbacks on that side of the ball will pay big dividends for an offense looking for an identity still.
This is your weekly reminder that I have no clue what I’m talking about. Wait, is this post itself, this projection of confidence, just another piece that is going to look really stupid this time next week?
Don’t answer that. My point is simply that times are good for Indians and Cavaliers fans. Losing this series would hurt. It would make this a disappointing season. But the Indians are set up to be very good for quite a while yet. It’s not the end, either way.
But screw that. The Indians are winning Game 5. They are winning this series. One of these days my post about confidence in my team will pay off. Won’t it? It has to. Go Tribe!
- I mean, don’t get me wrong, here. Yes, I’m worried about Rose and Wade starting together as well. But not to the point I fear for this season. [↩]