As I am writing this, it has been four days since the Cleveland Indians lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Chicago Cubs. We all know what happened; there is no need to dwell on the unfortunate facts and circumstances which occurred on that awful November night.
While I would hate to hearken back to a misguided marketing campaign, there are a lot of things that make you ask “What if?” about the whole series. What if the Indians weren’t missing Danny Salazar (as a trustworthy starter) and Carlos Carrasco? What if Corey Kluber could take back that one pitch to Dexter Fowler? What if David Ross didn’t sell his soul to the devil to take Andrew Miller deep? But what if I told you none of that mattered? What if I told you the Indians lost the World Series for the third time in my life, and this time it was all my fault?
A lot of Cleveland fans have voiced there being nothing in which to be disappointed. A lot of fans seem content with the loss. They aren’t content with losing so much as they are content with losing given the circumstances. They are content with a team missing four of its best players losing to a team that won 103 games and hadn’t won a World Series in 108 years. All of that is OK, but I, Daniel James Harrington, single-handedly lost the Cleveland Indians the World Series.
You are probably wondering how I, a human being who is in no way associated with the team other than relentlessly cheering for them, could have possibly lost the Indians the World Series? I will fill you in.
Let’s go back to June 4, one week before my wedding, and also the night of my bachelor party. Two days earlier I had just come home from Camp Lejeune on leave to marry this girl (now my wife) who decided I was OK enough to live forever with. As American tradition goes, my guys and I would spend one last night together with me being a free man. One more night of guys being guys and not telling them I can’t hang out because my wife wants to go to a painting class at Southpark Mall or something equally ridiculous. While most guys would choose to hit the casino downtown and possibly meet some lovely women at the classiest gentleman’s club on Cleveland’s west side, the Lido Lounge, my friends and I decided it would be “more us” to try and break 100 on the golf course, grab some overpriced tall boys at Panini’s and then watch Josh Tomlin and company battle it out for first place against the Kansas City Royals.
To make sure we didn’t miss the game, we started our day off with a 9 a.m. tee time at Emerald Woods in Columbia Station. While a friend of mine made half the group late because he absolutely had to get coffee at the Donut Pantry in Lakewood rather than somewhere on the way, we were still able to get on the course without interruption and begin a round of 18 that we wished was a round of nine by hole 11. After everyone put together the worst round of golf in their respective lives, we were happy to stray away from the greens of the golf course and head to the greens of the baseball diamond at Progressive Field.
Around 4 p.m., we headed down to Panini’s where we smashed some 16-ounce Bud Lights and destroyed some giant slices of delicious pizza. We would have loved to stay longer, but with the night being a jersey giveaway game, we had to be one of the first 12,000 fans to the gate.
As we passed by the Bob Feller statue along E. 9th, we shared stories of Feller we had heard from our fathers.1 As I was telling my friends about the time Bob Feller once threw a ball faster than a motorcycle that passed by going 100 MPH, I was handed my jersey: A blue, button-less pull-over that read “INDIANS” in white with a red trim, and a beautiful “Sugardale” logo on the right shoulder just like they did back in the 1970’s. I immediately had flash-backs of Ronnie Belliard’s incredible afro on 70’s Night years back. While I didn’t have the afro that Belliard did, I did have the body type, and that was enough to make me feel like one of the team.
We headed over to our seats where we sat down and were immediately questioned by the usher if we were in the right seats, because they were a bit too luxurious for a group of 20-somethings to be enjoying a Friday night. And while I hate being stereotyped for my student loan debt, I understood the usher’s surprise that a bunch of young men were sitting in the owner’s seats in the first row behind the home team’s dugout.
At this point you may be wondering if I am some type of Jordan Belfort, a kid who’s too rich to believe. Well, I’m not. My friend’s aunt married into the Dolan family (or something), so we got lucky. I’m just a Lance Corporal—I just spent all my money at Panini’s. After a pretty cool night of some autographs from Carlos Carrasco, Mickey Calloway giving us some of Tito’s bubble gum, Joba Chamberlain weighing in on whether or not Joe Flacco is elite, and Juan Uribe stopping Michael Martinez from giving my buddy a pinch of Skoal, the Indians came out on top over the Royals 7-1, and took over first place in the AL Central, where they would remain for the rest of the season.
The best part about the game, however, was that I was finally big enough to fit into a “one size fits all” jersey give away. For the first time in my life, I actually received something at a sporting event that fit. Not only did it fit, it didn’t suck. Most giveaways look like a t-shirt you tried to sew yourself for your sixth grade home-ec class. What a time to be alive.
Flash forward four months and some change to Game 1 of the World Series. Now in Washington D.C., I met up with a couple of high school friends at a nearby Chinatown bar that is oddly jam-packed with Cleveland fans. As I guzzled down some Cokes, and my friends some Great Lakes, I enjoyed watching Kluber and Roberto Perez lead the Indians to a 6-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Aside from Kluber’s dominance, one of the most important details of the game was my outfit: A chief wahoo hat, a blue, and the button-free pullover jersey that I had received at a June 4 game against the Kansas City Royals.
One night later, my friends and I would gather at the same place. Not wanting to risk the total embarrassment of someone saying “didn’t you wear the last night?”, I did not wear my jersey. I don’t remember what I wore, but it definitely was not my hot dog-sponsored 70’s throwback. And as we all know, the Indians dropped that one to the Cubs, 5-1.
Two nights later, it’s time for Game 3. Now that it had been three days, my jersey was totally fair game. To shake things up, my friends met at my place to bro out and crush Dortmunders and Freschetta Pizzas. We all suffered dozens of minor heart attacks as the Indians came out on top of the Cubs, 1-0, and took over the series lead, 2-1.
Following the victory, I had made note that I believed it was important for me to wear my jersey the following night, because the Indians were 2-0 when I wore it, and 0-1 when I did not. Everyone agreed that I should wear it, and also agreed that we lost Game 2 because of me, which was totally fair.
For Game 4, a friend of mine who lives in Baltimore, and also attended the jersey give away night for my bachelor party, came over to D.C. to watch the game with us. When I picked him up from the gate on base, I noticed he was wearing his jersey. There was nothing I could do, though. I couldn’t not wear the jersey because he was—that wouldn’t be fair to the city. So as he, my wife, and I walked around D.C. for hours before the game, he and I matched in our 1970’s throwbacks looking like brother-husbands as we walked on each side of my wife. While no one said anything directly to us, it was obvious people were doing that high school whisper thing where they mentioned that we were dressed exactly the same. On that night, I fell victim to twin-shaming, something I never want to be apart of again. I felt like everyone around me was Regina George and I was whoever wasn’t popular in “Mean Girls.”
For the love of my Indians, however, I toughed it out and accepted being the unpopular guy for a night. Thanks to my selflessness, the Indians took a commanding 3-1 lead over the Chicago Cubs. One more win and the Indians would be World Series champions for the first time in 68 years.
When Game 5 came around, I didn’t go out. I had to be at work early the next morning, so I watched the game from bed. Because the special jersey isn’t very comfortable for pajamas, and a part of me wanted to see the Indians win it all at home, I made the executive decision to not wear it. And just as I had suspected, all of the Indians wins were due to my jersey, and they fell to the Cubs, 3-2.
Two days later, the Indians and Cubs would head back to Cleveland for Game 6 (and possibly a Game 7). Again, due to work, I would watch the game from bed. And again, because of my own selfishness of wanting to be comfortable, I did not wear the jersey. A second-inning grand slam would put me to sleep during the fourth inning, and I woke up to the Indians and Cubs being tied 3-3 in the series, with a decisive game seven on the line later that evening.
I could not take any chances with Game 7—I HAD to wear the jersey. There was no time to think about being comfortable. This was bigger than me, it was for my city. So, as a true man’s man, I put the jersey on and was determined to lead my team to victory. The only problem, however, was that by not wearing it for Games 5 or 6, I actually put a reverse curse on it and the luck had been taken away.
You see, following the one loss, I put the jersey back on the next game. Not knowing at the time that if you didn’t wear it the game after a loss it wouldn’t work, I didn’t put it back on for Game 6. So after two losses in a row, I actually should have not worn it for Game 7.
In hindsight, it is so obvious. At the time, however, I never thought to do the sabermetrics on it to calculate the OBP (on body percentage) of the life-changing piece of mesh. I should have never worn the jersey for Game 7. I should have thrown it in the closet, I should have burned it, I should have lost it. I should have done anything but wear it.
Because I was lazy and careless, the Indians lost the World Series. For most Cleveland fans, you can wake up feeling good that the Indians competed and took the Cubs to seven, and that they have most of the team coming back next year. But for the rest of my life, I have to wake up every single day knowing that I was the reason this city is in the midst of a near-five-month championship drought. I am Cleveland’s version of Steve Bartman. I am the billy goat of Cleveland, Ohio. I apologize.