The major Indians news of the last day or two, I guess, is the team's cameo appearance in the New York Times sports section. Cleveland's stay in the country's paper of record is sure to be short, and any impression that this team makes on the general readers of the Times will probably be fleeting, at best. The hand-wringiest parts of the piece are the Chris Perez quotes, where Perez bluntly asks Cleveland to explain both the deep hate that fills its people's souls and the city's equally deep, unflinching commitment to one of the NFL's worst franchises.
No explanations are forthcoming for either phenomenon. Instead, what stands out for me is the bizarre rationalizations being offered for the Indians, to put it candidly, lack of overall baseball success.
"It’s been kind of weird, honestly," closer Chris Perez said. "If we’re ahead after five, we win. And even if we’re down by one or two, it seems big. It’s just one of those anomalies.
"When we get beat, we get beat. It’s usually big runs. And when we win, it’s close. The run differential is not going to be there."
"Over all, we’re pleased that we’re still in the race despite clearly not playing our best baseball," General Manager Chris Antonetti said outside the visiting clubhouse after the game."We still feel like the roster we have has a lot of upside to it and hasn’t played to our potential."
I guess I have to basically agree with the premise that it's pleasing to win more often than you lose but the rest of this, I'm not so sure. I don't think there's much "weird" going on here, and I don't feel this roster is bursting with upside. You never want to get down on your favorite team when they're 2 games over, but it's hard not to look at this team and sigh deeply.
The Indians of recent vintage have been characterized by injury-prone stars and a basic lack of pitching and, welp, here we are again. For the Indians to succeed in large chunks, they've got to improve substantially (nothing new there), and the bulk of that improvement is slated to come via homegrown stars. There's still excitement, justifiably, around players like Choo, Santana and Chisenhall but, increasingly, it appears the Indians need unlikely turns in individual players' trajectories in order to get substantially better.
At the same time, this team looks basically .500 to me, and basically .500 means you might sneak into the playoffs and then, who knows? And, besides, it's pleasing to win more often than you lose.