Cleveland Indians: The Wild Card and Julia Roberts

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There are things in this life that just don’t seem possible. There’s no logic to support them, but they still happen. The Cleveland Indians? Lyle Lovett?


For reasons I cannot fathom, I found myself checking the American League Wild Card standings today.  Earlier this season it seemed inevitable, just based on mathematical odds, that one of the five or six contenders for the second wild card would surge forward and win ninety games or so.  Now, as we approach the last thirty games of the season, the odds of that happening seem a lot longer than they once did.  The fact that a team with eighty-five or so wins may slink into the postseason opens up to possibility that a team currently still below .500 could surge forward and find itself in contention in the final weeks.  A team like… say… the Cleveland Indians.

Now, if the Indians get to the wild card game and somehow win it, they have a one in eight chance of winning the World Series.  Having been alive for the vast majority of the 67-year drought, this is not something I can take lightly, but I really don’t know how to feel about it.  It reminds me somewhat of how Lyle Lovett must have felt when he married Julia Roberts.  He must have spent the entire time they were married telling himself that he was out of his league, and he knows that when people read his Wikipedia page they try to edit that part of it, but when he’s 90 years old and in a nursing home he’ll tell everyone who walks past that was once married to Julia Roberts.  Probably every old man in a nursing home says that, but he’ll be telling the truth.

That’s about how it feels to be thinking about the Indians making the playoffs.  This team has annoyed the crap out of me since Opening Day.  Half the lineup has underperformed, the fundamentals still suck, the fans don’t care.  It’s just been a depressing, boring season.  But the rules of baseball are such that this depressing boring season could still possibly end in a World Series.  I always figured that some year there would be a trade that happened or some kid would come up from the minors and I would just know that this was the year, that I would hold on to that feeling of destiny and ride it through 162 games, that it would be a total joyride, keeping the faith through all the adversity, smiling knowingly when the rest of you caught on.

But this team?  The first home playoff game would probably be Sunday, October 11, the same day the Browns play in Baltimore.  How hard is it to imagine Progressive Field half-full for a playoff game?  Mind you, if we beat the Yankees in the Wild Card game and then win the first two games of the Division Series on the road, downtown will look like it did during the NBA Finals, with all the people who don’t know a jump ball from a curve ball pretending to be lifelong fans.  But if the Indians actually get that far, would it be the same as it would if they steamrolled through the season as a team of destiny?  Not really, but I’m old enough that I can’t be choosy.  If this team somehow is still playing past October 4, I will love them like it was 1995 all over again.  I will forgive Carlos Santana for hitting .225, remember only the saves for Cody Allen, and make believe Michael Bourn was never here.

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This is not idle pondering.  The Indians play the Angels this weekend.  A sweep would put them within one game of Los Angeles, one of the teams in prime contention for the wild card.  In September, they have seven games against the Twins, the current wild card leader, and the Tigers, who are also in contention.  That presents plenty of opportunities to gain ground on other contenders.  There are also seven games against the Royals, who will be coasting by then.  The Angels play Texas seven times, and Baltimore plays Tampa seven times, so there exists a real possibility that all of these teams will keep splitting series and stay around .500.  A 24-12 finish to the season would leave the Indians at 84-78, which at this point looks like it might be enough to make the last week interesting.  If the Indians were to make the playoffs and had enough off days to use Kluber, Carrasco, and Salazar for almost every start, who knows what could happen?

Now, do I think this team is good enough to make a 24-12 run?  I do not.  They still seem doomed to piss away one winnable game per week, either letting some guy with a 5.68 ERA pitch like Clayton Kershaw or letting the bullpen piss away a quality start or leaving twelve men in scoring position.  Unless that stuff stops happening, we will all be thinking about football in September.

But then, we all underestimated Lyle Lovett, didn’t we?  Just in case, as things stand now the pitching matchup for the wild card game would be Cody Anderson against Michael Pineda.

Next: The Indians' Urshela is here to stay

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