We are in a strange time for us as Cleveland sports fans. It’s June, and for the first time since 2014, the Cavaliers are not in the NBA Finals. It’s quite bittersweet. I don’t miss the frustration of playing the Golden State Warriors the last two seasons. However, I miss the Cavaliers being on that biggest stage and the joy that came with watching those last four playoff runs.
The Cavaliers’ payoff runs also carried additional sports benefits to me. Namely, they allowed me to delay following the day-to-day minutiae of the Cleveland Indians. Sure I’m a complex enough organism capable of multitasking rooting interests. This isn’t one of those silly debates where we pit the Cleveland teams against one another. The fact of the matter is, though, that pouring so much emotion into the Cavaliers’ playoff runs allowed me to soften any frustrations with the Indians and their routine slow starts.
This season is different. The Cavaliers played their last game on April 9, almost two months ago. Essentially, this means I have been 100 percent in on the Indians from the very start this year. Which essentially means I have been feeling every frustration of this disastrous start to the season.
Like many, I’ve been waiting for this team to kick into gear and get going. I’ve been watching every Jose Ramirez at-bat looking for any clue or sign that he’s figuring himself out. With every win, I’ve been contemplating in my head if this is the win that starts one of those classic Indians win streaks. But it just doesn’t seem to be happening this season.
After the Indians took two of three games in Boston last week, I honestly thought this was it. The bats looked like they were warming up. The pitching wasn’t good in that series, but hey, pitching seems way easier for this team to turn around than hitting. With four games against the White Sox coming up, I thought it was now or never for this team.
It’s starting to look like never. Losing three of four in Chicago sure felt like the end of any hopes for another Central Division title. The Indians are now tied with the White Sox at 29-30, 11.5 games behind the scorching hot Minnesota Twins. And oh yeah, the Indians now have to play the Twins with a weekend series against the New York Yankees coming up. If things don’t turn around immediately, as in, starting today, the Indians could easily find themselves more than 15 games back in the division by this time next week.
I don’t need to rehash all the issues with this team. We have plenty of great writers here who have been doing that all season. I will say, however, that it’s been frustrating as a casual fan seeing the team sort of take their time trying to make changes to improve. Sure, they’ve made a lot of roster moves already. They tried Brad Miller (who is still 5th on the team in batting average, 5th in OBP, 4th in slugging, 4th in OPS), Hanley Ramirez, and Carlos Gonzalez. They’ve called up Jordan Luplow (3rd in OPS) and Oscar Mercado (5th in OPS). Calling up Bobby Bradley seems like a no-brainer at this point. But for the most part, it seems like the Indians have been doing a lot of repeating the same thing and expecting different results.
And there’s only so much you can do, too. At some point, you just need Jose Ramirez to be better. You need someone other than Carlos Santana or Frankie Lindor to produce. You need Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco to be better and more consistent. There are some injured players coming back eventually that you hope can help (Mike Clevinger, Corey Kluber, Bradley Zimmer), but really, with the Indians being so far back this soon, the team is running out of time. If changes are going to be made, the time is now, sooner than later. The Twins clearly could smell the blood in the water this offseason and they made moves to capitalize now. We’re still waiting for the Indians to counter.
The summer is supposed to be the Indians’ time in Cleveland. And under Terry Francona, they have pretty much always delivered. But if the Indians are really done already this soon in June, it means summer is pretty much already over. Because if I don’t have good baseball to occupy my mind this summer, it means my attention is going to drift to the Cleveland Browns. Training Camp usually begins around the last week of July, which is less than two months from now. Essentially, as long as it’s been since the Cavs played their last game. This is the sweet spot for the Indians, and it’s time for them to make something happen. If they don’t, summer is already over.