Like most good things, this ended too soon. It is cruel that a team could put together one of the strongest finishes in baseball history, only to have it ended by one bad game, a night when that one key hit that might have changed everything never arrived. It isn't right, it isn't just, but whoever told you life is right and just was not an Indians fan.
I've made my peace with this playoff format, with the Wild Card Game that takes six months' hard work and bends it into a single, crazed shot in the dark, but this new format gave last night a suddenness I'm not sure baseball has ever had before. No team in history had ever won 10 games in a row, then been sent packing after just one defeat.
The Tribe's 10-game winning streak to end the season (something no team had done in 42 years) was maybe the most exciting and enjoyable stretch of regular season baseball I've ever witnessed. You know what, scratch that, I don't need to qualify it with 'maybe;' that winning streak absolutely was the most exciting stretch of regular season baseball I've ever witnessed. It came at a time when a single loss might have sent the team tumbling out of the Wild Card race, giving every game a do-or-die feeling. It came at a time when, because of the wonders of technology, I could watch every game, something I'd never been able to do before in a contending year, on account of geography. It came at a time when I could come here and share in it all with all of you, and have you share in it with me.
This isn't the best Indians team we've ever rooted for, but it was a damn good one. The front office is to be commended for going out and acquiring practically half the team last winter. Terry Francona and his coaching staff are to be applauded for maximizing the roster's talents, helping many players to better seasons than most could imagine for them, and the players are to be remembered for never quitting on the season, even when many fans did. If you can't get behind this bunch, I don't know why you're even bothering with baseball at all.
I'm still too shellshocked to say much about what went down last night with any wit or intelligence. Tomorrow's another day though. Soon, we'll look at how this all happened. Not just last night, but the entire season. How did a team that lost 94 games a year ago turn around to win 92? How did a prospect no one cared about and a pitcher who'd been left for dead become the team's most important players in the second half?
We'll look back in wonder, and ahead with great hopes. When was the last time a pitcher electrified you the way Danny Salazar did in the 1st inning last night? When was the last time a prospect gave you as much optimism as Francisco Lindor does? When was the last time you wished a base runner would try to steal, just so you could watch Yan Gomes gun him down? There is work to be done, and there will be new holes to fill, but this team's future is brighter than it has been in a long time.
"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
- Winston Churchill
I can't wait to find out what's begun.