Being a Cleveland Guardians fan of a certain age is a bit of a strange experience.
Let’s say you were born sometime in the ’80s. For most of your life, the Indians/Guardians have been an incredibly enjoyable team to watch, from the blockbuster teams of the ’90s all the way through to Terry Francona’s successful reign as manager starting in 2013.
But, of course, despite all of the franchise’s success over the past 25-30 years, there is no World Series title to show for it. And, as we all know, the Guardians own the longest World Series drought in baseball, with the team’s last title coming in 1948. So at this point, there are very few fans who would even remember celebrating that one.
That’s well-trodden territory, however. We hear about that every single time the Guardians make the playoffs. The other drought that’s reaching a ridiculous length as well is the team’s own no-hitter/perfect game drought, which I was of course once again reminded of after the Houston Astros threw a combined no-hitter against the Phillies in Game 4 of the World Series Wednesday night.
The last no-hitter (and perfect game) for Cleveland came on May 15, 1981 from Len Barker. The Indians defeated the Blue Jays 3-0 that night and, depending on who you ask, there was something like four million Clevelanders in attendance. In case you were wondering, Barker finished the strike-shortened 1981 season with a 3.91 ERA in 22 starts as the Indians finished 52-51.
Given that 41-year distance from Barker’s perfect game, the Guardians currently sport the longest drought in this department as well. Cool!
But we’re living in a golden age of Cleveland pitching, with Cy Young candidates seemingly coming out of the woodwork every few seasons. So the time is ripe for the Guardians to finally break this streak. But that’s never a guarantee, either, and the funny thing is, Cleveland really never comes all that close to a no-hitter or perfect game, either. Carlos Carrasco once took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning of a game against the Rays in 2017 but beyond that, there haven’t been an abundance of opportunities in recent years.
I’d say that someone like Shane Bieber or Triston McKenzie would be the perfect candidates, but no-hitters and perfect games are such random events, it’s impossible to predict who would throw one. As long as a pitcher is having one of those magical nights of control – sprinkled in with a little bit of luck – it can happen to anyone.
But it is strange how Cleveland hasn’t been able to run into at least one in the past 41 years.
Just a weird tacked-on drought on top of the big kahuna that is no World Series title in nearly 75 years.