Monday, October 22, 2007

Catharsis

Many thoughts have entered and exited my head since Coco squeezed the 27th out in the deep recesses of Fenway early Monday morning, setting into motion the Cleveland “Doom and Gloom Machine” in print and on the airwaves…

…Finally, I’ll get to start watching Ken Burns’ “The War”, which currently occupies 80% of my DVR space.

…Perhaps I’ll throw myself, full force, into the Sporting News’ Strat-O-Matic game that will replay the 1986 season with me managing the 1986 Indians (I’ll keep a link on the sidebar so you can all blast my managerial style throughout the season) against other “celebrity managers” (me…a celebrity?) like Curt Schilling, Will Leitch of Deadspin, Dan Shanoff of “Daily Quickie” fame, former MLB player Doug Glanville, and Ba Ba Booey from “The Howard Stern Show”.

….Maybe I’ll get back on track with my quest to re-read the “Great American Novel List” that I still have from High School, when I wasn’t fully appreciative of what I was reading.

…Or do I watch the video of the serial commenter Baltimoran getting Rally Pied over and over again by fellow serial commenter Cy Slapnicka to remember the good times?

…I’ll certainly find out what a normal night’s sleep feels like without waking up in cold sweats about what happened to The Scarecrow’s slider (OK, that’s a stretch, but I worried about it).

Plenty of questions and scenarios abound for the Tribe off-season to keep me busy here, but it’s far too early for all of that or to even think about a season recap.

First things first, as it’s time for some catharsis for the last 5 days of our lives:
Coming to grips with the events of the past few days, I’ve run the gamut of emotions – pride in a tremendously successful season, fear in a young team tightening up at the wrong time, paranoia that Senator Mitchell and Dana DeMuth were working in concert to sabotage the season, irrational hatred of particular players of either team, and even optimism that the best is yet to come.

No matter how hard I try, though, it seems that frustration and disappointment are causing this empty feeling that has replaced the cauldron of stomach acid that I’ve grown so accustomed to. Frustrated and disappointed because the World Series was there, in the Indians’ laps. It was theirs for the taking, as the manner in which they lost that ultimately hurts the most - up 3-1, with C.C. on the mound in Game 5 at the Jake, with the city ready to explode.

Frustration…
Disappointment…
The two are intertwined despite the Indians taking us through a fantastic year and on a phenomenal playoff run, abbreviated by the team tightening up and lacking the “killer instinct” that a team has to develop to put their foot on the throat of an opponent.

But how far can frustration and disappointment go when the Tribe went toe-to-toe into Game 7 in the ALCS with the Red Sox, who are a supremely talented team with strong pitching, few glaring holes, and a consistently dangerous offense?

It hurts for sure, but would a sweep be the preferred method of exit?
Would the skeptics then just have the argument that the Tribe “didn’t belong there” as opposed to “they choked” or have the media (in their undying efforts to categorize everything in a nice little package) put some sort of generic moniker on losing the ALCS?

Would you have preferred the Indians got caught by the Tigers to “collapse” before the playoffs started?
Perhaps a “choke job” in Yankee Stadium would have felt better.

The Indians didn’t do that and wouldn’t allow the “I told you so crowd” to surface as they kept grinding forward, with more bandwagon fans jumping on at every juncture and the diehards growing more in-step with the young group of players congealing before our very eyes.

Obviously, some people still sat there and said, “they’ll blow it” or “they’ll find a way to lose it”, trying not to get too emotionally invested in the team for fear of having their hopes dashed and actually putting themselves out there for public ridicule in the chance that the unfortunate happened. The “fans” acted as if they were from Missouri and that the mediocrity and heartbreak that defines Cleveland sports were all suddenly Grady Sizemore’s fault or Fausto Carmona’s fault.

Simply by being in an Indians uniform, this team was unfairly lumped in with generations of disappointment and broken dreams. And, at the end of the day, is that really fair? Are the Indians, because they got close and weren’t able to make that one final push to nudge the Red Sox off the ledge, losers despite a 96-win season and being a win away from the franchise’s 6th World Series appearance?
Absolutely not.

But those feelings of frustration and disappointment won’t go away, perhaps fueled by the knowledge that nothing in baseball is ever guaranteed, regardless of talent, promise, or stability. When the moment presents itself, it must be seized. And therein lies the ultimate frustration and disappointment with this team – not that the season was a failure or that the team is full of “choke artists” and losers – it is that the Indians had put the Yankees away and were close to doing so to the Red Sox. It seemed that the Colorado Rockies were the only thing standing in the way of the first World Series trophy since 1948.

Anybody who says to you that the season was a failure or that this (the final 3 games of the series) was expected either wasn’t paying attention to the season or has trouble simply “living in the moment”, preferring instead to live their lives in a perpetual state of dread and unhappiness, simply waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I won’t let that thinking sabotage what has been a magical season for the Indians for me, taking my son to his first Indians’ game as I saw the 2nd renaissance of baseball in Cleveland in my lifetime from my perch in the mezzanine, and for many other like-minded Indians’ fans.

To me, the events of the past 5 days don’t make me lose my appetite for the ring or denounce my love for the Indians, it only makes me hungrier and hardens my hopes that the Indians are on the right path.

Regardless of what inane moniker the fatalistic Cleveland media finally choose to put on this ALCS, the Indians’ season was an unquestioned success, with brighter days ahead…no matter how hard that is to see today.

11 comments:

Jason said...

Very well put. The kids got tight and things fell apart. Let's hope they get another shot next year.

Baltimoran said...

thanks for the link paul, nothing like seeing yourself get blasted in the face with a pie in slow motion...and yes, that was a huge jinx because it happened before game 6, thanks again Cy

doby14, nobody here gives a crap about Millar or anyone on the Orioles (didn't hear his name mentioned once as people discussed the game or made fun of me). i know cleveland gets down on bad teams but the current ravens backlash and everyone claiming to hate the orioles make me see baltimore as a pretty "fair weather" city

Les Savy Ferd said...

Amen, spring training can't come soon enough. I can't find anything to see but tremendous optimism for this AL Central champ. We are not like the White Sox (whose collapse last year may be a result of having a truly epic hunger sated on a World Championship) or the Tigers whose age and injury prone tendencies were made manifest this year. In fact, we are probably most like the Twins, only we have started signing up our young talent.

You have to be excited about the wealth of arms and bats. As much as they cast a bitter taste in one's mouth at the moment, CC and Fausto are tremendous talents, Westbrook will return enhanced by a strong play-off push, and I even have a lot of faith in Sowers turning the corner. The only guy i really think needs to say adios is Lee.

Anyway, I blather on. Nice article.

Matt said...

Please just beat the Curt Schilling-led Red Sox. Badly. Please.

reyorra said...

I just keep reminding myself that the Indians did better than 30 other teams in the regular season, and better than 29 other teams in the post season. Just think about how poorly the fans in the 26 cities that did not get a post season this year must feel. Yes we had some heartbreak, but that means that we had hope. Or rather, that we have hope. And for that I am proud to be a fan of the Cleveland Indians.

Caderick said...

The day after the Indians lost Game 7, I wore the same Indians jersey and hat I'd worn while watching the game the night before. Call it my funeral clothes, at least for that day. I'll proudly continue to wear the Wahoo, and wait until Spring Training, when the resurrection will be upon us. Our hope is painful, but it is better than no hope at all. Go Tribe.

doby14 said...

I know all about Webkinz and High School Musical and play Yahoo fantasy baseball and CBS Sports fantasy football, BUT Strat-o-matic 1986 Replay?
I'm in the dark!
I'll call the Baltimoran's mother and get the explanation.

davemanddd said...

you call blowing a 3-1 lead in the alcs a "success"??? so what would you call actually winning a world series, a super-duper success??? gimme a break. what a bunch of richard simmons followers we have become when we can only accentuate the positive and refuse to face up to the harsh realities of the situation that the indians failed, plain and simple. yes, from the standpoint that this was their first season since 2001 that they qualified for the playoffs, well then from that standpoint, it was a success. au contraire, mon ami, was it really??? success is a relative term when it comes to actually winning a title and in that regard, this season became yet one more failure in a long line of failures in this town. until such time that we can accept their failures for what they are and to stop trying to label them with things like "the drive", "the fumble", "the shot", "the catch" and "the mesa", etc. can we ever truly enjoy true success which can only be achieved by one of our teams actually winning a pro team sports championship. the question now is, will the indians let this so-called "success" this year go to their heads next season and suffer a repeat of the 2006 season when they choked away an entire season of higher expectations only to fall flat on their faces??? it seems to me that the indians can only "succeed" when nobody expects them to, but when the pressure to actually "succeed" is upon them, it's like they just wilt under the pressure. if eric "the genius" wedge wins the a.l. manager of the year award, as he should, i think next year will be an even greater challenge for him, just to return to the playoffs, let alone win the world series. can he do it??? we can only hope.

Voltaire said...

This season was an unquestionable success and I'm going to remember this team very fondly for years and years to come.

Cy Slapnicka said...

davemannddd, "it seems to me that the indians can only 'succeed' when nobody expects them to, but when the pressure to actually 'succeed' is upon them, it's like they just wilt under the pressure."??? Those are generalizations based on what? This teams 2006 season? Nice sample size. Btw, nobody expected them to succeed in Boston series except for us...and I don't think we have a whole lot of stroke with the Indians.

Regarding the "success" comments, i think after getting smoked the last three games and being devastated...everyone is putting the season in perspective and realizing that it was a fun ride, that while not completely successful, has the team on a positive trajectory.

its no fun to dwell on the negative during the off-season, and i personally feel its good to be able to extract some enjoyment from this "failure" of a season. while experiencing alcs game 5 in person and watching 6 and 7 sucked, i'll never forget being at game 2 of the yankee series.

if everything is so black and white and cleveland has such a long line of "failures", why do you even follow? you must love reading the PD sports section, huh?

like a good road trip, sometimes the ride is more fun than the destination. of course, i won't know for sure until we get there....

btw, the 2008 schedule was released today. mark your calendars, as i fully expect Manny to spend 4/14 and 4/15 dusting himself off. also, the season ending series is in chicago on a weekend. finally, a weekend series in chicago! i'm going to run a lottery for our second bedroom for that weekend. please see clevelandindians.com for details on how to sign up. in the meantime, i'll be selling couch space on stubhub at ridiculous prices.

Flop said...

Pat: This is a very reasonable, well-considered view, one which I share. I started this postseason refusing to join the people awaiting that other shoe -- yes, even when Borowski was in, though man was Game 4 nerve-racking. As a good friend of mine put it before Game 7: "Is Jim Brown out there somewhere having a pity party right now? Hell no."

This makes me wish I was reading you all year. At least I can fix that mistake by continuing to read in the future. Great work. Five months until opening day.