Now is the time for Tribe to win it all
William Donald Schaefer, the late former mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, had a favorite line.
It was part political slogan, part motivation, part mantra.
“Do it now.”
That’s the line that keeps coming back to me about the 2017 Cleveland Indians.
The team will wrap up one of the most successful regular seasons in the history of the franchise today against the White Sox. Then they will have three days off before their second-straight appearance in the American League playoffs.
They come in with not just a head of steam, but a ball of fire.
Between Aug. 24 and Sept. 29, the Indians played 35 games. They have won 32. That’s a .914 winning percentage. And that still may not be as remarkable as the 22-game winning streak they enjoyed during that stretch, the longest streak in American League history. The five-week period has vaulted them to the best record in the American League.
There are some who will tell you that all of that will mean nothing if Cleveland doesn’t win the World Series.
I won’t go that far. Of course it means something. The winning streak — and the team’s continued strong play after it — has constituted the most ridiculous regular season baseball I have ever seen. It will be remembered, with awe, regardless of what happens in the next few weeks.
That said, I do feel like the Indians need to win the World Series this year.
The team is too good. It’s reasonably healthy. It has just about every advantage — homefield through the first two rounds of the playoffs, and homefield in the World Series if the Dodgers don’t advance.
But homefield isn’t as important as the starting starting rotation the Indians will be sending out in the postseason.
Corey Kluber — who should win the Cy Young, went into his final start of the season Saturday with an 18-4 record, and a 2.27 earned run average. In 198 2/3 innings, he had struck out 262 batters.
And he’s just the No. 1 starter. The second starter is Carlos Carrasco. He’s merely 18-6 with a 3.29 ERA, 226 strikeouts in 200 innings exactly.
And while I don’t want to drone on, I feel one needs to mention Trevor Bauer, who has won 17 games.
So the top three starters opponents will face have a combined 53 wins.
And that just sets up a bullpen with the usually unhittable Andrew Miller, a solid Bryan Shaw and a terrific closer in Cody Allen.
And a batting order that has everything. Guys who hit .300 (Jose Ramirez, Austin Jackson), hit 30 homers (Edwin Encarnacion, Francisco Lindor, Jay Bruce), provide steady production (Carlos Santana) and even play great defense (Lindor, Yan Gomes, Giovanny Urshela).
It’s all there — everything a team needs to win it all.
That’s the baseball argument.
But there’s also an emotional one.
Honestly, I wasn’t too down when the Indians lost the World Series to the Cubs last year. With so many injuries to their starting rotation, without one of their best hitters, and without a ton of expectations going in, it was hard to be down about what they accomplished.
Plus, the Cavaliers’ championship was still fresh. The Indians failure — or whatever you want to call it — wasn’t crushing.
But then I read a tweet from my friend Joe Boyle.
I’ve written about Joe before. Since 2011, the Toledo-area high school history teacher — and former A-T intern — has been battling a vicious form of cancer. Two years ago, threw out the first pitch before an Indians game against Boston to his childhood idol (and mine), former Tribe outfielder Cory Snyder.
Joe is a real life superhero. He’s incredibly optimistic and honest, and inspires people on a daily basis.
But after the Game 7 loss to the Cubs, Joe said this:
“Initial feeling is that this hurts worse than 97, because I don’t really have 19 years to wait around.”
And that’s the other part.
In sports, we often hear about patience. “Get ’em next year,” they say.
With the Browns, we are constantly being told to wait. They won’t be good this year, but maybe in a few years they’ll be decent.
But what about people who don’t have the time to wait?
The Indians had some great teams after 1997. They won four divisions and once made the playoffs as a Wild Card.
But it took 19 years to get back to the Fall Classic.
The point is, now is the time. The 2017 team is fantastic. It’s reasonably healthy. And, one would think, it’s ready.
Lord knows the fans are.
My message to the Indians?
Do it now.
Zach Baker is sports editor for The Advertiser-Tribune.
Contact him at:
www.advertiser-tribune.comwww.advertiser-tribune.com or on Twitter at: