Believeland Baseball: The end of a fun ride for the 2013 Indians

As we find out all too often in the city of Cleveland…All good things must come to an end.

The 2013 Cleveland Indians season started with a palpable excitement about the potential of a franchise that finally came around to spending some money in the offseason and was looking like a team on the rise. Despite only winning 68 games in 2012 there were elevated expectations for the 2013 squad because of the additions of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. But while we all were no doubt hoping that the team would make the postseason, I don’t think many people actually expected it to happen.

So when the Indians went on a hot streak to end the regular season and earned the right to host a Wild Card playoff game it shouldn’t have mattered what happened in that game because the team had already overachieved, right? Unfortunately sports don’t work that way and in this moment the Tribe’s loss on Wednesday night hurts.

It hurts because I fell in love with this team. It’s tough not to get attached when you ride with a team for 6+ months through all the ups and downs. You ride the emotions of the team and even as a fan you try not to get too high or too low during the streaks. So when you get to the end of a long, grinding season and it’s just one game and then it’s all over, it’s kind of a tough pill to swallow.

In a win or go home situation—against a really quality opponent—you can’t squander the few opportunities you get. And that’s just what the Indians did. The Rays are a great team, there’s no denying that. In a longer series I would not have been optimistic about the Tribe’s chances. But when it’s just one game anything can happen and it only takes one break to make the difference. The break never came on Wednesday night. The Indians had their fair number of chances but they could never capitalize. The team that always seemed to have the knack all season long for getting a clutch hit at the right moment suddenly came up bust. No moment hurt more than the Asdrubal Cabrera double play in the fourth with the bases loaded and one out.[1] It didn’t feel like we were going to get anything close to that kind of a golden opportunity again against a stud like Cobb. The chance was there for a moment…then gone. And with it, the season.

For 162 games we witnessed the Tribe pitching staff be steady and solid while the bats were extremely streaky. When they were hot it seemed like there wasn’t a pitcher alive who cool them down. They seemed to feed off of the energy of one another. But when they were cold it felt like a January swim in the waters of Lake Erie. They rode a hot streak to a ten-game winning streak and home field in the Wild Card game only to have a cold wave roll in when they got there. Ultimately that was the difference obviously. The top three hitters in the Indians lineup—a group that was made up of those two exciting new additions and the team’s only positional All-Star—went a combined 0-12.

It feels unhealthy to focus on the sour ending when the totality of the season was so sweet. It truly was a great and memorable ride. I’ve already waxed eloquently about this ball club so I’ll spare you all doing it again. All I’ll say is that I really did love this team and I hope that next year’s group is just as much fun. There’s always going to be some turnover from year to year but with Terry Francona at the helm and the daily doses of energy from Swisher it should be a good one next year. And if guys like Kipnis, Brantley, and Santana continue to improve like they have then the team will only be better on the field.

It’s impossible to say right now what the future holds for this team. It sure feels like they’re on the way up but you never know in baseball. Sometimes it goes away in the blink of an eye.[2] So I’m glad that we (at least I) had this 2013 team to enjoy because you never know when another one like it will come around again. You have to savor the good moments as those are what helps you get through the tough times. So in the wake of the end of the season and an impossibly short playoff “run” I choose not to dwell on the loss but to think about Jason Kipnis’ dirty jersey, Jan Gomes gunning down base stealers, Nick Swisher’s “bro” smile, Michael Brantley’s smooth stroke, Tom Hamilton on the call, Ubaldo Jimenez’s quirky delivery baffling hitters, Chris Perez’s beer gut, the Goon Squad, Danny Salazar’s youthful confidence, and a .183 hitting old man Jason Giambi saving the season with a majestic blast to save the season.

It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Thank you, 2013 Cleveland Indians. It was a fun ride. Till next year…

Believeland.


[1] I’m not the only one to make this point, but that double play sure felt like a microcosm for Asdrubal’s season. A guy who not too long ago looked like a truly great up-and-coming player is now a guy who seemingly is incapable of coming through in the moment. With Francisco Lindor working his way up the system you have to wonder how much longer A-Cab will be in Cleveland.

[2] Cut to Grady Sizemore nodding.

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