“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
With all due respect to Andy Williams, I’m not referring to Christmas here. For those of you just joining us, September is nearly over and your Cleveland Indians are still in the thick of a playoff race. In fact, as of this writing, the Indians hold the second wild card spot in the American League and would be facing the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card play-in game if the season were to end today. I personally feel that the Rays would pose a significant threat to anyone that has to face them in the playoffs, but I just want to see the Indians in the playoffs, and beggars can’t be choosers.
Unfortunately, the season doesn’t end today. But that’s alright. The Indians currently hold a half-game lead over the Texas Rangers for the second wild card spot, and as you’ve probably all heard, the Indians’ schedule the rest of this season could help them claim a spot in the postseason (provided they can play like they have been lately). The Indians control their own destiny from this point on and have only eight games left on the ledger this year — at least in the regular season. (*Wink wink*)
I’m typically more of an optimist, so I could probably give a million reasons why I’m as excited as I am about the Indians this year. I was only born in 1998, so I wasn’t alive during the magical World Series runs of 1995 and 1997 (which my parents still tell me about). I was also fairly young in 2005 and 2007, so I don’t remember what happened those years very well either. This season is essentially my first experience of the Indians playing meaningful baseball into September (and hopefully beyond).
Plus, let’s not ignore the fact that the Indians are actually a pretty good team. The pitching has far exceeded expectations, and the offense can keep up with anyone (especially when it’s not on a cold streak). The Indians, quite simply, are an entertaining team to watch.
Speaking of watching the Indians, it still surprises me that not very many people are doing so. Our own Brian Heise recently tackled this topic, and it’s easy to agree that the attendance, especially considering the circumstances, is quite low. Friday night’s rain-shortened win against the Houston Astros resulted in only slightly over 17,000 fans in attendance. You can blame it on the rain, but it’s still a higher number than what the Indians have been drawing lately. Maybe you won’t have as much competition for a foul ball (there’s always a silver lining, am I right?), but it’s pretty embarrassing that the Indians currently rank 28th in the majors in attendance.
Anyways, I’d like to think of myself as a pretty dedicated Indians fan. I’ve gotten pretty emotionally involved into this year’s edition of the Tribe, and that’s caused me to do some strange things. I would assume many of you have heard about the now-infamous deal that I’ve made to the Indians, but (*cue voice from corny infomercial*) wait, there’s more! I’m typically pretty strange, so I feel that I hold some massive responsibility for the Indians to make the playoffs. I usually get scared that if I wear my socks on the wrong foot or something weird like that, the Indians will lose and I’ll somehow be to blame for whatever happened (don’t worry, my socks seem to be on the right feet today). I know, it’s weird. But I’m pretty much living my life around the Indians for now. My parents raised me well.
Cleveland really does deserve a winner. That much is clear. Even if for nothing else, I want to see the Indians make the postseason to reward their passionate fans. I can imagine the reaction in Cleveland if the Indians were to make the playoffs. Sure, the Browns are the more loved team in Cleveland, but I’d be lying if I said that people wouldn’t care. I want a playoff spot. I want the excitement. I want to win. I want it all.
The question is: Cleveland, do YOU want it too?
I’ll bet that I already know the answer.