A Journal Entry on Why This Guards Team Is Starting to Feel Special: Sundays In the Metroparks, A Will Brennan Walk-Off, and Sweeping the Best Under .500 Team Money Can Buy


When I write, I usually make a point out of sticking to the facts.

Yes, I will make observations or give an opinion sometimes, but nearly always when I do this I will use some sort of factual information, whether it’s stats, general baseball knowledge, expert quotes, or something else to back those observations or opinions. I do this on purpose. I know that you, as the reader, have an entire internet superhighway’s worth of information right at your fingertips and within your pocket. Welcome to the internet. Where apathy is a tragedy and boredom is a crime.

The point is, you don’t suffer from a lack of choice in hearing opinions, and I get that. I’m not a writer that has the backing of one of those acronym networks with a lot of cachet. I haven’t paid Elon for the blue check mark and I’m pretty awful at social media even if I had ponied up the $8 per month. I’m just a guy that has been trusted by a website to put these articles together to the best of my ability, backed by the idea that I have a passion and knowledge for the game of baseball that hopefully out-punches its weight class. So when I write, I know people aren’t typically checking for an unsubstantiated opinion. If I am going to build trust in you as a reader and not waste your time, I need to be factual.

But today, I want to take a risk. I want to deviate a little. As one former Pulitzer Prize-winning writer recently proclaimed, “Sometimes you just gotta pop out and show (readers).” Today I want to do that. I want to talk about vibes. I want to talk about my favorite baseball team solely as a fan and not as a fan doing analysis.

I want to talk about this past Sunday. The Guards played, but before we get to that, let’s start with some other vibes.

The weather finally fully turned here in Cleveland over the course of this past weekend. After an incredibly gray winter and fairly tepid spring, we finally got a long-awaited taste of summer. While the Guardians were underway downtown hosting the Twins on Sunday, I was in the Metroparks playing softball in one of Lakewood’s men’s leagues. It was gorgeous out. 75 degrees. Not a cloud in the sky. I don’t ever think I’ve done this before, but I stood there, took a breath, looked up and noticed how picturesque the sky looked while waiting for play to resume between innings. With the densely laid out trees that the fields are cut out from in the distance, I just reflected on what was an idyllic moment. Summer. Sunshine. The outdoors. Baseball. If you find yourself with a moment of peace on a beautiful day off sometime, I recommend you try it soon. Find your moment. It can be quite glorious.

Meanwhile, the Guardians had staked themselves to a 2-1 lead against division rival Minnesota, looking to sweep the Twins and push them to arm’s length in the American League Central Division standings. With nearly unhittable closer Emmanuel Clase on the hill in the 9th inning, the game and series seemed like a lock. Until it didn’t. The inning was extended by a mental error by shortstop Brayan Rocchio who was late tagging second base for a force out that would have ended the game. The game was extended even further when Byron Buxton came up for the Twins and hit a bouncing ball to first baseman Josh Naylor. Naylor corralled it and tossed it to Clase covering first, except Clase dropped the ball. Alex Kirilloff scored for the Twins and tied a game that should have been over on two separate occasions.

The Guardians could have sulked. They could have let their frustrations get the best of them. They could have pointed fingers or tried to do too much and pressed at the plate. Instead, they rallied and with two outs and two on, Will Brennan would walk the game off with a three-run blast that cemented the sweep.

Now how’s that for persistence? And that’s exactly what this team has been. Persistent to a fault. At every moment when they’ve been given a reason to fail so far, they haven’t.

No major free agent off-season transactions? That’s okay. We were the youngest team in baseball for two years running. These young guys are going to progress. Plus, we brought back Hedges for $4 mil. You want a better clubhouse leader in the sport. And that’s more valuable than you realize.

The worst home run-hitting team in the sport by a huge margin? Not anymore. New year-new game plan. We get in a good counts and we are going to take some healthy cuts. And it’s going to work!

Gavin Williams won’t throw a pitch until the All-Star Break and Shane Bieber won’t make more than his first two starts this season? That’s okay. We’re going to have the best darn bullpen in the game and Ben Lively and Carlos Carrasco are going to pitch well enough to keep us in ballgames. Tanner Bibee is the real deal.

Arguably the best lead-off man in the game pulled his hamstring? Oh well. Tyler Freeman is going to find his footing offensively while hitting lead-off and this injury has allowed the baseball world to get introduced to David Fry. You know he’s third in all of baseball in OPS now, right?

A while back, I wrote that in order for this team to be successful this year, they were going to need to be over-comers. And that’s exactly what they’ve been so far. Sunday didn’t surprise me, because the final result was entirely on brand for who they are. This team isn’t afraid of adversity. If anything, they seem to flourish in it.

And then I look at their most recent three games that just concluded today- a three game sweep of the New York Mets.

The Mets… might as well be the anti-Guardians. All the flashy talent in the world. A gigantic payroll. A blowhard crook of an owner (sorry to break from the vibes for a second, but this is a fact, Steve Cohen paid a record $1.8 billion with a “b” fine to the Securities and Exchanges Commission related to insider trading) and a phony, fake-leader, money-chasing, under-performing shortstop at the helm of the best under .500 team that money can buy.

In short, despite the hype and the money and the cool factor, they aren’t good. They are a total waste of talent because of a severe lack of hunger, leadership and understanding that you can’t just slap a bunch of guys together on a roster like a video game and expect to win.

They are everything the Guardians aren’t. And with another Memorial Day approaching us, nothing makes me happier. As an amateur writer with a day job trying to punch above his weight class, I can’t think of a better team to identify with. As a citizen of a proud but underappreciated city on a majestic lakefront, I can’t think of a better team to represent the majesty of a Sunday in the Metroparks.

I consider myself grateful as a baseball fan to have four months of Cleveland summer approaching. They may not all be as delightful as this past week has been, but I now have a feeling that we can overcome it.

I’ll give Mr. Lindor this: sitting on a beach this fall, sipping on a Corona, sounds like a lot of fun. But, I have a feeling we are going to have a different kind of October to remember. And I am going to enjoy the summer journey there.

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