Every once in awhile, my Cleveland cynicism erodes, and I realize once again just how much I love the sport of baseball, and in particular, Cleveland Indians baseball.
For awhile there, that cynicism helped me to look at things objectively, which is why I supported the Indians’ decision to decline Grady Sizemore’s $9 million option. It made perfect sense to decline the option; Grady had averaged just 70 games a season from 2009 – 2011, so a small-market team couldn’t afford to hand him $9 million and hope it worked out.
But underneath the hard shell, my heart hurt. I knew some team was going to sign Grady Sizemore. I didn’t know if Sizemore would be able to reclaim his former glory, but I knew I wasn’t ready to see it happen in another uniform.
But now, like a troubled couple giving it one last shot, the Indians announced today that they had re-signed Sizemore to a one-year deal.
Look, I’m very much a realist about this, and I know there’s still a high chance Grady won’t even deserve his $5 million base salary (or at least, a higher chance than I am comfortable with). But given the Indians’ lack of options in the outfield (with apologies to Ezequiel Carrera and Shelley Duncan, they’re not legit starting options) and the lack of realistic options available in free agency, bringing Sizemore back made sense.
But the fan in me is happy. Just as when they brought Jim Thome back in August, the Indians have done right by their fans. We’ve invested a lot in Sizemore. And I don’t just mean all the merchandise with his name on it: since 2004, Grady Sizemore has been a constant in the revolving door that has been Cleveland’s roster. No, he hasn’t always been healthy. But he’s always been an Indian.
We’re the organization who insisted on his inclusion in the Bartolo Colon deal in 2002, watched him lead a hungry young team in 2005, and thrilled to see him put up a MVP-worthy season in 2008. The Indians are the team that signed him to a six-year extension after he’d spent less than two seasons in the majors. It was Cleveland that has suffered through his injury woes the past three seasons.
Which leads me to another point: I’m not sure if this factored into their decision, but Grady Sizemore terrorizing the league next year in any other uniform would have been a bitter pill to swallow for Tribe fans. Grady says he’s back and he’s ready. If Sizemore’s predicted comeback comes true for another team, well, that’d much harder to watch it was for Jeremy Guthrie, Brandon Phillips or any other coulda-woulda-shoulda-been Indian who’s had success elsewhere. If Sizemore can’t stay healthy this season then I can be at peace with whatever happens next, but I would have a very hard time seeing him as an All-Star somewhere else.
Grady Sizemore is a Cleveland Indian. I can continue to say this until at least next November. And you know what? I’m at peace.