Back in late March, our intrepid editor Lewie [Editor's note: he's also handsome] asked our staff if anyone would like to create a preview for each series for the season to come, including pitching matchups, things to watch for and other fun minutia. Both Merritt and Brian volunteered almost simultaneously, and what ensued was a dual journey of joy and sadness, excitement and misery, confusion and acceptance.
With the Indians’ season now behind us, they had to get some things off their chests. So here’s what was going through their minds as the season they so thoroughly covered came to an end.
Thoughts on these previews:
Brian: This started out like such a great idea. I figured it would be an easy way to generate some content for myself on a regular basis plus it would give me a niche on the site. Like, “Hey, I’m one of the preview guys!” Things started out great too. With the Indians looking like actual contenders I found myself wanting to watch more of the games, look up more stats and info on them and every team we were facing.
Then things went down the toilet, along with my motivation to write the previews. By my last set of three previews I had no idea what to say that hadn’t already been said about this sorry excuse for a team and half of the players on it. It was like pulling teeth and became one of the worst decision of my life to volunteer for these. I never understood writer’s block until I had to find a way to make Twins-Indians sound interesting with both teams 20 games out of first. I’m so happy this season finally ended. Would I do them again next year though? Definitely! Where do I sign up?
Merritt: You know, I was pretty jazzed about it, myself. Like Brian said, it seemed like a great way to get the articles I needed to publish, and with the freedom Lewie allowed us it gave me a shot to be creative. After all, the thing I like most, after irrational optimism for the Tribe even in the face of complete collapse, is witty turns of phrase and wacky descriptions of the mundane.
Through June and even into July it was a blast, stat diving for neat new ways the Indians are finding ways to win or telling our dear readers just why they’ll dominate this series or pitching matchup. Then late July happened, and despite my attention to the team I didn’t realize what was happening for about a week. “Hmm, the Indians haven’t won in a couple days. No biggie,” was at least one thought I had. But it just kept happening, and midway through August I began to dread that three-series cycle when it came my way. I’d do it again though, in a second.
- Thoughts on the team:
Brian: I think the Indians have a solid core of players that they can build around. I just think that other factors played a part in their midseason collapse. Injuries didn’t help, but I also think the apparent conflict between Manny Acta and the front office didn’t help things any and something happened between the players and Acta that caused them to quit on him. With the right moves and the right managerial hire there’s a good chance they might have an outside shot at contending next year, but a lot has to go right.
Merritt: I talked myself into at least a run to the ALCS this year, since I figured Travis Hafner would be healthy (I’m a bit insane) and that the core of Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana would combine for 50-plus homers. Also, I had a vision during a spirit quest that Jason Kipnis would become the next Chase Utley. There’s still great pieces on this team, but I’ve said it before, there’s not centerpiece to build around, just a ton of complements. Bring in a true offensive threat like a Joey Votto or an Evan Longoria or a Josh Hamilton, and this would be a special team. But when Shin-Soo Choo is your best hitter and your pitching looks how the Indians pitching looks, it’s going to be tough to do anything real.
Favorite Indians to talk about:
Brian: Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana were probably my two favorite Indians to write about all year. I still feel like Kipnis can reach that All-Star level. Santana is frustrating, but he still has a chance to be an elite level catcher so long as he learns that he’s actually allowed to hit the ball the other way. They’re also just something about them that I liked writing about. It’s hard to really pinpoint but they just provided me with a lot to say, both good and bad, and when I needed something to say I usually looked at their stats or highlight reels for help.
Merritt: Carlos Santana made himself my favorite player last year. Maybe it’s the seeming perma-stoned look to his eye, the silly huge swing he has from the left side, or just the fact he came over because of the trade of my old favorite player (outside of Grady) in Casey Blake, I fell for Carlos. This year was a struggle, but I still loved writing about him, because I believed he’d do it big. Plus, he had a big second half so I got to be excited about that at least. Along with Shelley Duncan when he was around, of course. I adore Shelley, he seems like the player I’d be if I made the bigs. Rumbling, swings for the fences, somehow very competent in the outfield. And he has so much fun, too. Hope he’s on the team next year, I’ll write more praising him.
- Least favorite Indians to talk about:
Brian: You and I are probably in agreement on this, but I loathed the series previews in which I had to talk about Ubaldo Jimenez. It went from optimism, to denial, to gradual acceptance, to absolute hatred for how bad he pitched. I’m probably even more upset that neither of us got the chance to preview the possibility of him losing his 20th game. We can dare to dream though. Seriously, Ubaldo Jimenez had become the bane of my existence by the time the season had ended. Can we get a mulligan on that trade?
Merritt: This one is easy, and most of it is because I had to do it every preview. Ubaldo Jimenez, you got that so right Brian. This was supposed to be 2010 redux for him, without the fall off at the end. Instead he was just dreadful by every measure. I took to talking about the Ubaldo Roulette, which gives you either just barely serviceable or utterly miserable. I’d rather have had Jo Jo Reyes.