Indians Nation (an entirely inappropriate and reasonably underutilized nickname) is on pins and needles, waiting to see what, if anything, Chris Antonetti will do in an attempt to push his improbably successful ball club "over the top." It's such a fever, in fact, that we've initiated a contest about it—one you should totally participate in, if only because I love to judge people and things (and you—yes, you, over there). The questions surrounding potential moves are as old as time: who will go? Who will stay? Is Trot Nixon available as a team valet? What about Joe Inglett? How mad is Eddie Murray? Did anyone remember to send Luis Isaac an apology gift?
Fans (that's us), are always invested in what moves a team will make, regardless of the time of year—for close followers of the Indians, understanding the intricacies of roster movement and arbitration rules is practically a requirement. Roster management is more prerequisite to living than fact of life for a small market franchise. But, even our counterparts in baseball's symbolic penthouse love rosterbation—it appeals to many basic human obsessions: self-improvement, getting something for nothing, gambling, et al.
This edition of the Indians, though, is the first in many years that can even entertain the notion of a trade to improve the current roster. The Tribe's deadlines of late have been characterized by sad goodbyes. In contrast, this season there is the possibility of bidding farewell to a player we hardly, if ever, knew. We are suddenly compelled by the prospect of trading one type of lottery ticket for another. For me, there's a reason beyond the typical for finding this trading deadline so intriguing: it's not just that gambling on a new (old) face would be exciting; it would also be a communication I badly want.
The Indians and I, I feel like we're not talking much. At the beginning of the season, the team's intentions seemed surprisingly clear: they intended to win the damn division. As the too cold of Cleveland spring has turned into the too hot of Minnesota summer, though, I'm not sure what they're saying. The Indians have become casually two-faced, breaking my heart one day and making it sing the next. There have been many moments this season that, if the Indians had tried to walk out, I would've let them. There have been just as many moments when I would've barred the door with my body, screaming, "No! We can make this work! Yes, of course Jack and Orlando can stay—anything you want! Anything!"
Thus, the life of the fan of a middling team, a team that needs all its luck to even get a shot at swinging wildly, eyes squeezed shut, in a title bout. Teams like the Yankees or Red Sox might occasionally flirt with the premise that they are something other than contenders but, ultimately, their messages are generally clear and generally the same: we are hear to try to win the damn thing and we've got a good shot at it. It's because this message is so often the same that the Chicken Little hand-wringing of those franchises' fans is met with so many eye rolls. In contrast, a team just hoping it works out has no consistent message; one week they sound like the Yankees, the next they're screaming bloody murder while their big brother spladles them. I recognize teams win games and lose games, that baseball is a long season, and that consistency is not something to be expected—even so, this is an emotionally draining group to follow.
So a trade, or a prominent promotion, or the lack of either one, would at least allow me to create my own false narrative, allow me to craft my own person e-card from the Antonetti's Outlook (you know he's Microsoft) to my Gmail. That's my request, Chris—can you light some lamps for us? One if by land, two if by Pence? Can you sneak a letter out, slipped in the petticoat of X, Y, or Z? Of course you can't, and of course it doesn't really matter; I'll have to wait until the story's ending is obvious before I'll know who the protagonists were.