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Expectations and the 2017 Cleveland Indians: While We’re Waiting

Jason Kipnis Cleveland Indians

In a way, covering the Cleveland Cavaliers in person since 2009 has taught me so much about fandom. Sure, a cynic would tell me I’m desensitized or “don’t get it,” but I would gladly counter back with a sense of peace that comes with bigger picture discussions. Jumping right in when LeBron James was about to head to Miami, the next several years taught me how to not take the good for granted—as many of us did with James’ first stint with the team—and to not sweat the bad over one-game, one-week, or one-month samples.

In professional sports, the journeys are long. They begin well before we’re watching, and so many steps are taken while we’re not looking on. We judge these steps by the games that take place during the regular season, and attempt to draw larger meaning from smaller samples. This is going to sound anti-fan, but I’ve found the manic swings to be a drain that takes away from what is yet to be determined. Should the Cavs have played as poorly as they did in January or March? Certainly not. But is any of it worth the angst knowing what they were able to do in every other month but those?

Which takes me to the Indians.

Come 7:00 p.m. tonight, the Tribe will take to the field, kicking off their 162-game journey through 2017 in hopes of returning as the American League representative in the World Series, but this time, being on the other end of the outcome. They’re starting the season on the road—which, as much as I’m a fan of this in theory, I wish our weather was just suitable enough for them to play here—against a really, really good Texas Rangers team. They’re starting things out with injury questions surrounding several key players. We have spoken so much about fast starts in the past as the Indians had long been plagued with playing catch-up through most of their seasons, but this team is so much different. Of any sport, it’s the game of baseball that allows the least amount of instant reaction to actually have merit. It may be this reason why so many feel it’s becoming more of a niché sport, but it’s also the sort of pace that will allow for this team to be cautious with key players as they keep their eye on the prize.

This is where the wet blanket comes in. If the Indians win the 90 games many feel will be required to win the AL Central, this means there will be 72 losses. Seventy-two. There will be some they lose when they should have won, and there will be plenty more where they win when they should have lost. While we’re all going to watch in hopes of our favorite team prevailing after nine innings, it’s more important that we watch for moments—those Francisco Lindor diving stops, Andrew Miller embarrassing a would-be hitter—than anything else. Much like the Cavaliers and their potential to lose on a given night, each baseball game comes littered with its version of alley-oop dunks and insane dribble drives—you just have to be watching to see them happen. And when they do, remember that things were not always this rosey. Much like the Byron Scott years, we aren’t that far removed from Manny Acta. Instead of Michael Brantley making his return to left field, we were left rooting for a Jason Michaels-David Dellucci platoon.

I don’t know what will happen throughout the course of this baseball season, but I do know that whatever happens come October, this is a team fans should not take for granted. They’re fun, they make an incredible amount of contact, and each one of their pitchers has the potential to make the opponent look foolish at any given time. You don’t have to go to every game. Hell, you don’t have to watch every game. But when you do, enjoy it. Moments can be fleeting and it’s up to us as fans to make them count.

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