And then there is 2014…
It’s really hard not to feel that way here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario after the Cleveland Indians’ 2014 playoff run sputtered midway through September this season. You could make a case that it sputtered way back in April, when the Indians’ went 10-17, and couldn’t find their footing.
Since the unproductive month of April, the Indians were above .500 in every month since, but only once were they a lot over (18-9 in August), and they never really felt like a playoff team, did they.
I don’t mean to sound so negative. I’ve been told that I should keep my negativity at bay.
I’ve been told that I should feel good about this 2014 season. I’ve been told that I should be happy that we still have Terry Francona as our manager, and that Mickey Callaway is a Dr. Frankensteinian gift of sorts, creating a Callaway-monster of a starting rotation from a massive pile of untapped potential. I’ve been told that this team’s foundation is a young and tidily wrapped up future of Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes and Jose Ramirez and Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer and Francisco Lindor, to name just a few. I’ve been told to “smile,” because the Tribe won more than they lost, and that’s a rare thing for a team in this sad-sack market.
I get it.
Here’s the thing: the season is over.
I’m not happy about it.
The sublime and sultry 200-hit Michael Brantley display is now a part of Indians’ history.
The #CyYoungKluber machination is now more about a social media push, and less about on-the-mound dominance.
The resurgent brilliance of the scintillatingly talented Carlos Carrasco is now a footnote to the final quarter of the 2014 season.
The #JRam-for-shortstop campaign has gone from a formality to a question-mark.
The emergence of T.J. House as not only a bona fide major league lefty, but a legitimate staff anchor in the mid-to-bottom-of-the-rotation has come to a first-year close.
The Yan Gomes-is-better-than-you-thought-he’d-be sophomore season in which he cemented himself as a top-tiered major league catcher is now a thing of the past.
The season is over.
There’s nothing about that statement that makes the 43-year-old version of myself happy. There’s nothing about that statment that made the 10-year-old version or the 21-year-old version or the 35-year-old version of myself happy. As a matter of fact, if all of the versions of myself got together for a post-Major League season party, there would be a lot of things breaking, a lot of anger, and a lot of swearing.
THE SEASON IS OVER.
Am I the only one that turned the T.V. on at 7:05 on Monday night and expected a baseball game to be on.
I really did.
Sure, I knew that the season was over when I flicked the channel to Fox Sports Ohio. I actually said it out loud while I was pressing the buttons. But, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking, “Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe the season ends on Monday. Maybe they have one more game.”
And it took a minute to click that there would be no more season once the channel changed over. There would be no more surprises. There would be no more playoff hope. There would be no more season.
There would be no more Indians’ baseball on the North Coast in 2014.
There’s nothing about that sentence that even remotely brings a smile to my face, even if you do hard-sell me on the future of this team.
This was a Cleveland Indians’ team that made it to the wild card playoff game last year as the top wild card team. In every year prior, that #1 seed would have made it into the ALDS as one of the four best teams in the league. Last year, the Indians were relegated to a one-game playoff against the Tampa Bay Rays, the first #2 Wild Card seed.
The season ended then too, and I was just as angry.
I do love the Cleveland Indians franchise.
I do love the future of this club.
But, if it’s okay with everyone, I need a bit of time to mourn the loss of the 2014 Indians. I need to mourn the loss of a team that has a legitimate shot of showcasing a Cy Young Award winner, and an MVP candidate, and has two potential Silver Slugger award winners. I need time to honor the job that Mickey Callaway did THIS year.
Another week would have been nice.
Another month would have been better.
I needed more time, like I do every year.
There was something special about seeing a small group of the “little guys” from Carolina make their appearances over the past few months. These were guys that many “experts” had written off, but found a way to scrape their way on this team in 2014. Tyler Holt wasn’t a star, but he sure was fun to watch. Roberto Perez wasn’t a starting catcher (yet), but he sure could call a game. And T.J. House wasn’t…couldn’t…hell…he was a borderline mid-to-late summer star.
That’s special about the 2014 season, and I’m not ready for it to end.
This was the year in which Lonnie Chisenhall proved to be a valuable piece. This was the year that Trevor Bauer made it as a starter, if not a star. This was the year the starting rotation was absolutely devastating for the final month-plus of the season.
And the season is over.
One of the things that I love the most about baseball is how each and every Indians’ team I’ve watched over the years has a different personality, a different make-up, a different look and feel. The fingerprint of each team is as different as the water that runs through your fingers when you stretch your hand out into a crashing wave on a beach.
It’s fleeting, a moment in time that won’t be repeated.
How sure was I that the Indians of the 90’s would win a World Series?
But look back at those teams. From year-to-year, while they were a massively prodigious offensive juggernaut, the Albert Belle-led 1995 World Series team was vastly different from the Sandy Alomar Jr.-led World Series team in 1997.
I miss them both, as well as that 1996 team in between that felt like a flop after winning 99 games and getting bounced in four games to the Baltimore Orioles.
So while the Indians’ future is bright, you never really know what you are going to get, and I’m not quite ready to get them. While my next few Corners will likely continue to rant a bit about this year, I’m sure they’ll start heading into next year.
But until then…
…let me rest in my 2014 misery.
The 2014 Cleveland Indians are dead…
…Long Live the Cleveland Indians.