Despite the outcome, how fun was Game 7? Forget Game 7, how fun was watching every Cleveland Indians game from October-November knowing than entire game and series could be decided by one pitch?
Well, now you have to pretend to care about that 12:05 Thursday getaway game in late April.
Sluggish April’s have plagued the Indians since Terry Francona took over and there were two ways of thinking: that it was just April, or that because of their sluggish April’s in 2013-15, that April games matter just as much any other game.
In 2017, the Indians, on paper, have one of, if not the best roster in the American League. To even improve on that outlook, the AL Central seems to be as weak as it’s been in quite some time. The Twins are still some years away (even though they gave the Indians problems in 2016), the White Sox just initiated a rebuild this offseason, the Royals are stuck between their window closing because of so many core players in the last year of their deals and dealing with the tragic loss of ace Yordano Ventura. The Tigers are still hanging around with an old, but talented roster but their pitching depth behind Justin Verlander, Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris is paper thin, as is their bullpen.
Aside from being derailed by injuries this year, the Indians have as clear a path to the postseason as they’ve had since the mid-90’s. So, now, October baseball isn’t a hope, it’s an expectation. The roster finally seems to match those expectations. That’s what happens when you finish one win short of your first World Series title in 68 years and sign one of the best hitters in baseball over the offseason.
Without worrying about injuries and the initial excitement of seeing Edwin Encarnacion in the lineup at the home opener, how does one go from the Rajai Davis eighth inning, game tying home run to watching Dan Otero work in the sixth inning of a noon weekday game against the Oakland A’s?
Expectations are higher than ever, but are we going to spend every game in April worrying about the kind of start the Indians get off to this year given the circumstances? Granted, the Indians are 38-55 in April under Terry Francona, so April woes can be a worry. Are we going to be able to care about games that aren’t the magnitude of October now that we’ve been there and we know this roster is capable?
We’re told time and time again that the Cleveland Cavaliers season from November-February means almost nothing because they’re the most talented roster in the eastern time zone. While they are partially cruising towards another conference championship, that ‘half the season doesn’t matter’ mentality takes away from the fact that the Cavaliers a special team that probably won’t be seen ever again in Cleveland once LeBron James retires. And while he and the rest of the team continues to have games of utter dominance and brilliance, it’s overlooked because it’s not a playoff game. Or a conference finals game, for that matter.
While the 2017 Indians aren’t the 1995 team, don’t take April games for granted, but don’t take them too hard, either. Even with some injuries, the Indians still stand a good chance to win the AL Central in back-to-back years for the first time since 1998-99. So, will it be hard to get amped up about facing the Minnesota Twins on a cold, spring night? Maybe. Will it be frustrating if they lose? Sure. That’s why the expectations are so high but that’s also why we shouldn’t take April-June because they’re not playoff games. Just don’t take each loss too seriously, either.
It’s going to be a weird year.