It seems like the same thing happens every season. In a town with three major sports teams, Cleveland fans have spent the last 52 years waiting for all of them to drop the other shoe. Other franchises have sports memories about great sports moments, while Cleveland was defined by our failures. On June 19, 2016 that changed. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers brought home the NBA Championship. By now, you’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with an article about the Tribe, so allow me to explain.
How many times last season did the doubters come out, talking about disfunction and division in the Cavaliers locker room? “Kevin Love isn’t happy here. Kyrie wants out. LeBron is considering another team.” When it came down to it, none of this mattered, true or not. Kyrie hit the shot that brought home a title and LeBron and Kevin were the first two hugging each other when the Cavaliers won it all. The Indians have been in sole possession of first place in the AL Central since June 16th, but every time they’ve had a setback the same thing happens. Sports media in Cleveland seemingly can’t help themselves and keep perpetuating the negative storylines. “Brantley is injured, Indians are done. Gomes is injured, Indians are done. Salazar is injured, Indians are done.” This sort of negativity can tear a team apart, but it certainly hasn’t felt that way.
Every time they’ve faced adversity this season, the Indians have pulled together and risen. And yet, through all that, Paul Hoynes and writers like him repeatedly proclaimed the Indians postseason dead before arrival. Hoynes’ latest article, and the one that seems to have broken the last straw in the Indians locker room, was titled “Sept. 17: The day Cleveland Indians’ postseason dreams ended before they began.” I won’t even bother posting a link, as it’s really not worth the read. Hoynes tells everyone, like Chicken Little did, that they sky is falling. It’s the same sort of fatalism that I’ve come to expect from a large part of Cleveland sports media. Instead, two Indians, Trevor Bauer and Jason Kipnis, ran rampant on Twitter, with the majority of Cleveland fans rallying behind them. This seems to be the sort of thing that this team needs to grow closer together, as a city pushes them upward.
My mantra from the NBA Finals is the same one I have adopted for the Indians. When the Cavaliers went down 3-1, I repeated the same thing to anyone who would listen. “I will not give up on this team until the last second has run off the clock.” It was the absolute belief that the team was good enough and special enough that they could do what no one had for 52 years. I’ve seen that same thing from this Indians team.
My new mantra has become “I will not give up on this team until the last out is played.” I’m here to tell you to stop it. Don’t give in to the notion that we’re Cleveland and everything will go wrong. Don’t let people like Hoynes convince you that it’s over, because it’s not. LeBron and the rest of the Cavaliers proved that wrong. Enjoy this Indians team, enjoy the fact that they seem to repeatedly stand up regardless of what knocks them down. Most of all, enjoy this postseason because the Indians will.
Image: USA Today