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Sports Illustrated couldn’t wait to jump on Cleveland’s “history of sadness” narrative

The moment a Cleveland sports team showed weakness the national media jumped all over it. Shocker.

Divisional Round - Cleveland Indians v New York Yankees - Game Three Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

One day after taking a 2-0 series lead against the New York Yankees, one day after completing the biggest postseason comeback in franchise history, the Cleveland Indians lost their first playoff game of the 2017 postseason by a score of 1-0.

It certainly didn’t feel good, and I wish it hadn’t happened, but I and most Indians fans I follow seemed okay with accepting it. There was an overwhelming attitude of “oh well, let’s just just finish it tomorrow.” That’s the same feeling was echoed by Indians players and manager Terry Francona after the game. No sense of “we’re doomed,” not even a sense of being in any real danger. The Indians weren’t going to go undefeated in October, and winning at Yankee stadium is never easy.

So why did Sports Illustrated, specifically Tom Verducci, feel the need to immediately bring out the “history of sadness” moniker to build a narrative around a loss in which the Indians held the Yankees to just one run two days after depleting most of their bullpen. Couldn’t you at least wait until the Indians are eliminated to start with the bullshit?

If you haven’t already read Verducci’s piece, don’t. It’s not much more than a sloppy recap lazily built around a worn-out premise with quotes from some players that don’t back up the narrative at all.

Verducci wants to cling to the fact that the Indians have a “history of despair” similar to the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs before their World Series wins. He’s not entirely wrong, but if you’ve been wearing your Indians fan feeling weighed down by history in the last 30 years, that’s your own fault. There has been plenty to cheer about as an Indians fan since the dawn of the 1990s. The postseason heartbreak is real as well, even as recent as last year, but is anyone really feeling that same heartbreak after dropping one game in the ALDS?

Let’s try to examine why Tom is seemingly the only person feeling this.

These young Yankees now have faced two elimination games in five days and won them both. They get another one in Game 4, full of energy, confidence and the advantage of their suddenly rafter-shaking ballpark.

Another way to put this: The Yankees weren’t good enough to win their division in the regular season and the Indians won two games in a row to put them on the ropes in the ALDS and they barely stayed alive in both scenarios. But no, let’s make it about those scrappy young Yankees instead.

The Indians? They don't have their top run producer, the injured Edwin Encarnacion. Their ace and their best reliever have been hit hard. They do have a wily manager and 102 regular season wins to count on. But in Game 4, when they pull on their uniforms to face Luis Severino, they will pull on the wrong kind of history, too.

Verducci spends so much of his piece talking about the Indians’ ace Corey Kluber being hit hard by the Yankees, but salivates at the first chance to bring up Luis Severino and his great regular season. No mention of him laying a turd against the Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card, though. It’s now apparently up the Indians to win or “face history.”

And that whole notion of Miller being “hit hard” is absurd. He threw 12 pitches in Game 3, the average exit velocity on them was 84.2 miles per hour. Game 2 he threw 15.7 pitches with an average exit velocity of 80.7. Game 1 he threw 30 pitches with an average exit velocity of 75. Really blistered the ball didn’t they, Tom? I guess looking up those numbers is too hard compared to just making things up because you saw someone homer off him, though.

It’s the cruel side of history. Andrew Miller has nothing to do with Jose Mesa and Terry Francona’s Indians have nothing to do with Mike Hargrove’s crew from 20 years ago. But on nights like this, when the difference is one ball going out and one ball pulled back in, the dots of infamy reconnected.

You’re partially right there, Tom. This game has nothing to do with Jose Mesa and the World Series of 20 years ago. There have been a lot of games decided on one ball being caught or not caught, and the Indians have won a lot of them, so what’s the point of trying to connect the imaginary dots here besides itching at the chance for another dig on Cleveland the clicks it brings in.

In all honesty, I kind of miss “Cleveland vs. The World” being a real thing in sports. But other than the Browns, Cleveland sports are tops right now. The Indians are co-World Series favorites along with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Cavaliers are coming off three-straight NBA Finals appearances. It’s just now that true anymore, at least in the sense that Cleveland teams are always underdogs in big matchups. But I guess it makes for a good a story if you need a way to make a 1-0 game interesting. Just try to wait until the dust settles before you bust out your montages, please.