Cleveland Indians: The Striking Similarities Between 2016 and 2007

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The Skipper

May 20, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (17) exits the field after talking with an official after a foul at home plate as they take on the Boston Red Sox in the fourth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
May 20, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (17) exits the field after talking with an official after a foul at home plate as they take on the Boston Red Sox in the fourth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

The most obvious connection in this series, and one that is sure to be talked to death, is that Tribe manager Terry Francona was the Boston manager in 2007. That Tito was at the helm of a team that came to rip the hearts of Cleveland fans out in the American League Championship Series is part of the ancient history that nine years has covered up.

The Indians had a 3-1 lead in the ALCS (no Golden State jokes, please), only to be crushed in the final three games by scores of 7-1, 12-2, and 11-2. The Red Sox went on to sweep the Colorado Rockies in the World Series, giving Francona his second world championship.

But, Cleveland’s skipper having a connection to their opponent is something he is treading lightly around.

“The one thing I think I need to be cognizant of, is the players have worked so hard — both sides — to get to this,” Francona said Saturday morning. “I can’t let my personal feelings ever get in the way or take away from what they’ve done. So, whatever my feelings are need to remain my feelings, and let the players [have the spotlight]. They’ve worked so hard for this. It needs to be about them.”

The Indians have no players remaining on their roster from that team, though Coco Crisp, who the club acquired in August from the Oakland A’s, was a member of that Boston team. David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz, and Dustin Pedroia are the holdovers from that series with the Red Sox.

As is manager John Farrell, who at the time served as Francona’s pitching coach. Farrell, who was also a teammate of Tito’s in Cleveland and is widely known to be his best friend in baseball, is in his fourth year at the helm of the BoSox, and led them to another World Series victory in 2013 (of which Mike Napoli was a part of).

“It’s tough when you’re going to compete against one of your best friends,” Francona said. “That’s actually kind of hard, but I am so proud of him and happy for him, what he’s accomplished. I kind of consider it an honor to actually compete against him.”

This ALDS contains connections, storylines, and familiarity that will make it perhaps the most heavily-scrutinized series of October. The Tribe will be aiming to make sure that the present day does not follow the same script of the past, and that old friends are watching the next round of the playoffs from the comfort of their living rooms.

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