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Throwing Out Objectivity

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As the Indians continue to win, it's become difficult to think about this team rationally. Heck, even the local columnists are even drinking the proverbial Kool Aid.

But it's hard not to root for this club. Most of the guys on the team have either come from the farm system or from the scrap heap; even Kevin Millwood, the team's biggest free agent signing, signed only because of injury concerns from other clubs. The players are almost to a man likeable guys; there are no Albert Belles to admire but not adore.

Still, there's a segment of fans still bitter about something. Sometimes it's the fact that the Indians have one of baseball's lowest payrolls. Sometimes it's because the Indians let stars like Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel walk. I think that Cleveland fans in general are masochistic, just hoping for something to go wrong so they can soliloquize about it to everyone who will listen. Losing will do that do you, I guess.

The Cleveland Indians can really be seen as two distinct franchises during its 104-year history: There's the 1901-1960 franchise, and then there's the 1995-Present franchise. In the interregunum, thirty-five years, the team wasn't really a franchise but a foil for the rest of baseball. And during that time died a large portion of the fanbase. And those that remained viewed the team with more amusement than with passion.

So when the team actually became relevant again, for the second time since 1995, fans still don't know what to do with a winning ballclub. Losing has been programmed so permanently into our circuitry that there's no winning subroutine to run. Even seven years of playoff appearances hasn't changed it; in fact, it seems to have enhanced it. Because the Indians of the 1990s couldn't win a championship with offensive stars at virtually every position, those teams have made a snakebitten fanbase even more despondant and bitter. After all, if those teams couldn't win the big one, how could any other team do it?

This all goes back to my point about losing objectivity. For me, it means throwing out the statistics and salaries and just enjoying the team play baseball; I can worry about that stuff later. For others, it may mean dissolving the dark cloud of bitterness and despair hanging over them and to enjoy a team that's hard not to love. This is when it becomes less about three-year plans and rebuilding and payroll and more about the players on the field, where talent, not salaries, determine the outcome.